High Speed Train Collision Results in Firing Three Top Aides in China


Even before the accident this week, the high speed rail project had become a thorny issue for Chinese government officials. China has spent over $60 billion on numerous high-speed lines, an investment which has not been without political corruption.

In February of this year, China's railway minister Liu Zhijun was sacked on corruption charges, being accused of taking $500,000 in kickbacks, which Chinese media reported is a small fraction of what analysts believe he really took.

A chief rail engineer identified as Zhang Shuguang was fired shortly after for corruption and was accused by some of having billions of dollars in overseas bank accounts.

David Bandurski, a media analyst from Hong Kong University, told ABC News that especially after the dismissal of Liu Zhijun, "The rail project has become such a political hot potato that is has almost become political suicide for a government official to come out and talk about the high speed rail."

Bandurski said that the Chinese media has had almost unprecedented freedom to report on corruption and the frustrations over the high speed rail project.

Other infrastructure projects in China have been plagued with similar problems of hurried construction.

China's state broadcaster reported that days after the opening of the world's longest sea bridge off China's east coast, workers were still tightening bolts on the bridge that could easily have been loosened by hand, as 18,000 cars crossed the bridge daily.

Nanjing South Station, the most expensive station built along the Beijing-Shanghai rail line, has had problems since its completion. Repairs to a leaky roof and floor tiles that have already had to be torn up and replaced were defended by the technical director of the project as "fine tuning," Shanghai Oriental Satellite TV reported.

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