A Reporter's First-hand Report at a Shanxi Mine

The Death of a Shanxi Journalist is currently an international news story, but the details are quite sketchy about just what happened.  For comparison, here is what happened to another reporter a few weeks ago.  This reporter is a properly licensed reporter with Shanxi Evening News, and this is a first-person report in a matter-of-fact tone.

(Shanxi Evening News via Xici Hutong's ReporterHome)

(in translation)

On December 27, 2006, a tip came to our newspaper that the Xinzhai mine in Zhanglan town, Jiexiu city, Shanxi province has begun mass production without receiving approval.  After the Nanshan mine disaster in Lingshi county, all the mines in Jinzhong city had been ordered closed for reorganization and would have to pass inspections before permitted to resume production.  If the Xinzhai mine is really doing what this reader said, then it was producing while still under orders not to do so.  On December 28, 2006, our reporter set out to investigate.

At 15:15 on December 28, 2006, the sound of machines was roaring at the Xinzhai mine in Jiexiu city.  The motorized conveyor belt continued to bring up coal from underground.  Inside the mine pit, two huge bulldozers carried the newly extracted coal onto a mountain of coal several dozens of meters tall.  So the reporter went up to film the busy scene.  Suddenly, three workers emerged from a factory more than 20 meters away, followed by 20 to 30 unidentified persons.  Once the reporter saw what was happening, he tried to protect his camera.  But it was too late.  The medium-built person leading the group immediately grabbed the camera and tugged it away.  The other people moved up and dealt blows to the reporter.  In the perilous situation, the reporter had to identify himself and the people stopped.

Taking advantage of the respite, the reporter called 110 at 15:30 for help.  A person at the scene identified himself as the mine director (later known to have the name Li Bingda) said arrogantly: "You want to call the police?  When 110 arrives, I wonder whom they will arrest?  I am going to take you down to the public security bureau."

As the attackers were growing more hostile, the reporter called the Jinzhong city public security bureau's 110 command center.  At 15:44, the Jinzhong public security bureau's 110 command center called back, "We are continuing to ask for help from the Jiexiu city 110."

At 15:50, the reporter called the local 110 again.  But there was no reply.

At 16:08, the reporters called the personal line of Jinzhong city public security bureau director Lei Dangchen.  Director Lei was shocked when he learned about the matter and immediately ordered the Jiexiu public security bureau to sent out police officers quickly in order to apprehend the perpetrators and guarantee the safety of the reporter.

After the attackers heard the reporter got through on the telephone, they quickly dispersed.  While the reporter was departing from the scene, the Jiexiu city 110 command center called back and said that the camera has been retrieved by the public security personnel and can be picked up at the Zhanglan town police station.

When the reporter got to the Zhanglan town police station, he was surprised to find the mine director Li Bingda already there.  Afterwards, a militia policeman named Kong interviewed the reporter and took notes.

While the militia policeman was taking notes, the Jiexiu city 110 called the reporter again and said that the perpetrators have been arrested and detained.  At that moment, the person who led the assault on the reporter was still being interrogated in another room in the police station and the militia policeman said that nobody has been detained over this matter.

After a while, the militia policeman Kong sitting across the reporter received a mysterious telephone.  Kong was embarrassed and told the reporter: "That was a call from the station chief Wen Yufu.  He wanted me to meet with the mine boss.  I said that I am interviewing the reporter and it is against the regulations to do so."

At that moment, a middle-aged man wearing glasses came in without invitation.  The militia policeman said that this was the mine boss Shi Guohua.  After the interview was finished, the reporter followed Shi Guohua to the second floor and saw that another militia policeman was interviewing mine director Li Guohua.

The reporter identified himself and asked Shi Guohua to speak to the illegal production that afternoon.  Shi Guohua said, "That depends on how I want to talk about this.  If it is for the public, then I am saying that I was just building the infrastructure facilities and not in production.  If you want to resolve this privately, that is another matter."  When Shi Guohua saw the tape recorder in the reporter's hand, he tried to seize it even though the militia policeman was right in front of him.  The militia policeman acted as if he saw nothing.

At 7pm that evening, the reporter met with the Jiexiu city public security director Qi Jianping.  He was shocked that the reporter was assaulted and he said that he will find the truth and punish the attackers.  Then came the person in charge of the public security squad in Jiexiu city and he told the reporter that only three coal mines have received approval to resume production, but the Xinzhai mine was not one of them.

On the afternoon of December 30, the reporter called the Jiexiu city Zhanglan town mayor named Jin.  The reporter asked once again whether the Xinzhai mine has been approved for production.  Mayor Jin said definitively that the mine has received permission to rebuilt the infrastructure facilities, but it has not received permission to produce.