Front Page of the Day

A Blind Shaft-style coal mine scam

New Culture View, June 17, 2010

It's hot in Changchun, announces today's New Culture View. A dog shaved into a lion-like appearance to evade the heat attracts attention from curious onlookers in the paper's front page photo.

A small headline in the sidebar teases a story reprinted from yesterday's Beijing Times about murderers who staged mining accidents to make fraudulent claims against the management:

They Killed Multiple Relatives To Swindle Mine Accident Compensation

by Sun Siya / BT

Suspects' methods mirrored plot points in Blind Shaft.

In 2003, Blind Shaft, a movie that painted a true picture of bottom-rung workers in the mines of contemporary China, won the Silver Bear prize at the Berlin International Film Festival. Two slackers entice workers to the mining areas and then kill them underground, and by making the incident look like an accident, they then pretend to be the victim's family members and seek compensation from the mine owner. Now the movie has a tragic real-life version. Huang Yucai and three others are accused of killing their relatives in fake mining accidents in order to swindle compensation money from the mine. Beijing's First Intermediate Court recently accepted the case.

51-year-old Huang, Huang Xianzhong (41), Shi Xuesong (30), and Zhang Xihua (37) are all from Chengde, Hebei Province. According to prosecutors, on July 21, 2009, they tricked Zhang's husband Han into going into a small coal mine on the pretense of helping him find work. Huang Xianzhong took a hammer to Han's head, injuring his forehead and causing him to die from loss of blood. Then Huang Yucai and Huang Xianzhong faked the scene of a mining accident. Because they couldn't find the mine boss, they were unable to proceed with their plan to seek compensation.

The prosecutors say that this was not the first time that Huang and the others had committed assault. In June and August of 2007, Huang Yucai, Huang Xianzhong, and Shi Xuesong used the same techniques to kill Dong, the older brother of Huang Yucai's wife, as well as his cousin Zhang inside small coal mines, after which they faked accident scenes and extorted payments of 330,000 RMB and 190,000 RMB respectively.

Prosecutors also say that in September 2006, Huang Yucai attempted to kill his wife's younger brother Dong to fraudulently obtain accident insurance money. Before taking Dong to work at a construction site in Sanhe, Hebei Province, he first took out a 150,000-RMB accident insurance policy. That November, while Dong was working upstairs, Huang struck him with a wooden beam in an attempt to fake an accidental fall off of the building. But because Dong was wearing a safety harness, Huang's attempt was unsuccessful.

The prosecutors believe that Huang Caiyu, Huang Xianzhong, Shi Xuesong, and Zhang Xihua are guilty of intentional killing, Huang Yucai four counts, Huang Xianzhong and Shi Xuesong three counts each, and Zhang Xihua one count.

Links and Sources
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
From 2008
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
Danwei Archives