Officials block graft reports
Local officials are blocking citizens seeking to report corruption to a central government inspection team, state media said yesterday, in the latest apparent abuse of the country’s petitioning system. Citizens unable to find redress from local officials can appeal to higher-level authorities under a so-called petitioning system, but are often illegally detained by local officials. The Chinese Communist Party said last month that government bodies must avoid such blocking of “normal petitioners,” Xinhua news agency reported. However, officials in Henan Province have sent teams to surround a hotel to block residents hoping to report corruption to an inspection team sent from Beijing, the state-run Global Times reported. The move was slammed by another state-run media outlet as “illegal,” but a staff member of the central government inspection team declined to condemn the move, the Global Times said. Detention of petitioners seem to have continued despite official vows to halt the practice.
Huge weapons cache seized
Police have seized a huge cache of weapons, including 15,000 guns and 120,000 knives, from an illegal arms ring and detained 15 suspects, state media reported yesterday. The weapons were confiscated after a four-month investigation, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper, which called the operation the nation’s largest-ever such seizure. Police were tipped off to the arms ring’s existence after investigating a robbery in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province, the newspaper said. They traced the source of a gun used in the robbery to a family-run “gang” in Hunan Province that advertised itself as a factory, but controlled several warehouses where guns and knives were sold.
Detentions over bus crash
Police on Sunday said that they have detained five people over a bus accident that killed eight elementary school students and injured 32 others last week. Those detained included the driver and an executive with the bus company, a notice on the Hainan Provincial Government’s Web site said. The principal of the private Xincai School, its chief investor and her husband were also detained, the notice said. Thursday’s accident came during an outing organized by the school for 586 students. Xinhua said the accident occurred when the bus with a total of 47 people on board rolled over on a road under construction that was slippery from rain. Xinhua said no special safety arrangements for the outing had been made with local authorities, despite the large number of students taking part. It said those killed were four girls and four boys.
Searchers to deploy mini-sub
A ship leading the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will deploy a mini-sub “as soon as possible,” the head of the search said yesterday. “Ocean Shield will cease searching with the towed pinger locator later today and deploy the autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 as soon as possible,” said retired air chief marshal Angus Houston, who fronts the Joint Agency Coordination Centre. Houston said that in the hunt for the plane’s black box transmissions, the last signal was logged six days ago. “We haven’t had a single detection in six days so I guess it’s time to go underwater,” he said at a press conference in Perth.