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Regulating Death in China’s Free Market: The Case of Mining Fatalities


  • Qi Li
  • Bill Taylor


Although China has emerged as a major capitalist (or mixed) economy, there is much debate over the ability of the central government to institute a regulatory framework to both promote capitalist expansion and ensure some notion of social justice. This paper uses the case of coal mining accidents to illustrate an incentive structure which neglects workers’ safety. Following a major increase in the number of coal mining accidents, the central government has developed many policies and directives to improve the mine safety record. These initiatives have been both comprehensive and diverse, and the figures are improving. The paper will show, however, a more complex picture, in which incentives create new problems, encourage under-reporting, and are not implemented because they conflate with higher economic priorities. Despite the drive to reduce accidents, the government institutionalises the priority of economic growth over miners’ safety.

Suggested Citation

  • Qi Li & Bill Taylor, 2008. "Regulating Death in China’s Free Market: The Case of Mining Fatalities," Journal of Current Chinese Affairs - China aktuell, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 37(1), pages 101-138.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:chaktu:v:37:y:2008:i:1:p:101-138

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