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China Questions Construction Quality

  • Jamila Trindle

Chinese officials say they are concerned about the quality of construction materials going to Sichuan province, which is struggling to recover from an earthquake that killed more than 68,000 people. As Jamila Trindle reports from Beijing, the government has begun inspecting the ruins of thousands of schools that collapsed in the quake, searching for clues about why they crumbled.

Over 13,000 schools were damaged during the earthquake, killing as many as 10,000 teachers and students.

Zhi Shuping, an official with the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, says is department has already organized investigations into the quality of certain schools and structures.

Zhi said Thursday that when inspections have found violations, they have already taken punitive measures. However, he would not say what punishments have been imposed.

Thousands of parents around the province have accused local officials and builders of cutting corners in school construction. In some cases, schools collapsed during the earthquake, while other nearby buildings were little damaged.

Now the government is worried about the quality of materials that will be used to rebuild the hundreds of thousands of buildings the quake destroyed or damaged.

Zhi says his organization is stepping up inspections and looking out for people who might try to bring substandard materials into the rebuilding effort.

He warns those who take the disaster as an opportunity to manufacture substandard, inferior materials and try to cash in on a national disaster, his department will take swift and serious measures against them.

The concern is not an idle one. For years, China has suffered from corruption. Hundreds of national, provincial and city authorities have been prosecuted for taking bribes or skimming off public money and goods for personal use.

In addition, businesses have been caught selling or using substandard goods. In many cases, such practices have lead to deaths from tainted foods, unsafe car parts and other shoddy products.