Governor in self-criticism over mine deaths

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2005, 12:00am

Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua has been forced to make a self-criticism over the Daxing Colliery disaster that killed at least 123 miners this month.

Mr Huang rushed to Meizhou city's Xingning township - his home town - after the mine flooded and publicly took responsibility for the disaster along with Guangdong Communist Party Secretary Zhang Dejiang .

However, it has also been revealed that Mr Huang was required to make a self-criticism at a prefectural-level meeting normally attended by party bosses and mayors.

'It is a very serious thing to make a self-criticism,' a political scientist said. 'It is different from saying you will take responsibility.'

Another source pointed out that cadres had been removed in the past after making self-criticisms, but other analysts said Mr Huang's background in the Communist Youth League - President Hu Jintao's power base - would protect him.

A media source said it was significant that Mr Huang's self-criticism was conducted internally and not publicised. 'This means they allowed him to save face,' he said.

Mr Huang's leadership has been under siege since the start of the year, with crisis after crisis affecting Guangdong. Along with the spring labour shortage, his administration has had to grapple with a worsening electricity shortage, slowing economic growth and an acute lack of fuel.

Meanwhile, media reports and online postings during the past month have hinted at wrongdoings on the part of Mr Huang and other officials, suggesting there is a power struggle taking place between the so-called Hakka and Chaozhou factions.

An item posted on the Boxun News Network, a dissident website based overseas, recently alleged that anger at preferential treatment given to a relative of Mr Huang, a Hakka, led to a confrontation between taxi drivers and police in Dongguan in June.

Separately, Oriental Outlook magazine revived complaints about an artists' colony that was destroyed to make way for the construction of Guangzhou's controversial university town. The town, one of Mr Zhang's pet projects, was built in nine months under the supervision of Guangzhou party chief Lin Shusen .

Analysts say there is no love lost between Mr Huang and Mr Lin, an abrasive native of Shantou who often tried to upstage his boss when he was Guangzhou mayor and Mr Huang was party secretary.

Members of the Hakka community and people from the Chaozhou and Shantou region have traditionally taken turns controlling Guangdong. Mr Huang's predecessor, Lu Ruihua, is from Chaozhou .

Mr Huang, a former local Communist Party Youth League leader, did not enjoy an easy rise to the top in Guangdong because he was not Mr Lu's preferred successor, sources say.