The media have been praised for exposing corrupt officials believed to be responsible for most of last year's workplace accidents. The director of the State Administration of Work Safety, Zhang Baoming, said earlier this week in Beijing: 'These [corrupt] officials oppose our nation's safety laws and decrees. They don't care about workers' lives or deaths and they act arrogantly because of their official backing.' Mr Zhang, who was giving a work progress report covered in the mainland media yesterday, said official corruption and protection networks could be linked to most of last year's one million workplace accidents, which killed 130,400 people. While noting an 18 per cent reduction year on year since 2000 in accidents that caused the deaths of more than 10 people, Mr Zhang said official wrongdoing could still be traced to the 140 large-scale accidents and 2,556 related workplace deaths last year. He also expressed his outrage at the massive official denial and cover-up of the flooding at a tin mine in Nandan, Guangxi province, in July last year that killed more than 70 people. Only after reporters continued to publicly question official denials of the accident did the People's Daily and central government leaders acknowledge the truth. 'In the first trial, 15 deputy party secretaries, county chiefs, and industrial and commercial bureau leaders were found guilty of taking large bribes, including one county chief who took more than three million yuan (HK$2.82 million),' Mr Zhang said. He condemned the official protection rings local cadres were providing to many of the small and more dangerous coal mines his bureau had repeatedly tried to shut down. Despite Mr Zhang's bureau closing 11,882 coal mines last year for their poor safety records, mine owners are often able to stay in business by bribing local officials. Mr Zhang said the media had been indispensable in exposing the majority of large accidents, and encouraged them to continue their supervisory role, exposing corrupt officials who attempt to cover up the accidents. 'We believe our bureau can't supersede the supervisory role the media has been playing in safety accidents, as their understanding is increasingly penetrating,' Mr Zhang said.