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July 21, 2009

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Teachers suspended over mine complaints

A COUNTY government in northwest China's Shaanxi Province has suspended two teachers whose relatives blew the whistle on illegal mining, China National Radio reported yesterday.

The mines are allegedly under the protection of local government officials who reportedly have stakes in them, the state radio reported.

Li Yanrong of Suzhuangze School and Bai Boling of Shajiawan Primary School, both in Hengshan County of Yulin City, told China National Radio that they were told they would not be allowed to resume work until the complaints stopped.

A Hengshan's Party Committee member ordered the suspensions, Zhang Zhonghou, director of the Hengshan Education Commission, told the radio station.

Zhang said Li's father-in-law, Hu Jianhuai, a 72-year-old retired teacher, had encouraged villagers to complain about illegal coal mining in Huloufang Village. Zhang didn't specify how Bai's family was involved in the campaign.

Hu complained about Leiyangpan and Xitagou mines in Huloufang Village. According to villagers, the illegal mining had caused a 13.33-hectare sinkhole in farmland and drained well water for 10 months.

Both mines were listed as illegal mines to be shut by the Shaanxi provincial government in January, he said. But they were still in operation.

Villagers said local government officials with stakes in the mines had sheltered the illegal production.

Wang Yaobing, an office manager of the Agricultural Development Bank of China's Hengshan Branch, is said to have a 15.6-million-yuan (US$2.28 million) stake in the Xitagou Mine.

Cao Peiming, vice director of the Hengshan Urban Construction Bureau, and Zhang Bingtuan, office manager of the Hengshan Mine Resources Office, also have stakes in mines, the report said.


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