Grain depot fires during the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection’s investigation of Sinograin’s corruption
While the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
(CCDI) team just began the first investigation of corruption
in China Grain Reserves Corporation (Sinograin), a fire
ripped through one of its depots in Lindian County, Heilongjiang Province.
Sources said the fire burned 78 barns containing
47,000 tons of grain.
The damage is expected to be as much as 100 million yuan.
The public suspected that the fire was deliberately set
in order to destroy corrupt officials’ evidence.
Netizens revealed that there had been
a previous arson case involving the CCDI.
On the afternoon of May 31, a grain storage center
in Lindian County was set ablaze.
As several tens of barns burned, smoke billowed into the air.
Three hours later, the fire was brought under control,
and no casualties have been reported.
Sources have said that Lindian grain depot
was established in 1961.
140,000 tons of grains were stocked there
when the fire took place.
The local authorities claimed that due to the temperature
having reached 34°C that day, the fire spread.
Experts said that there is a strict fire regulation requirement
for the distance between barns, and firewalls are used.
Experts understand that it is possible for a couple of grain
piles to burn, but feel several dozens of burned barns is rare.
An NTD reporter called the CCDI team hotline
for a comment, but received no response.
Feng Xingyuan, deputy director of Beijing Unirule Institute
of Economics: “A government should have restricted power.
The supervision for grain storage in a company
also has problems, such as an insufficient amount of reserved grain and substandard quality.
These problems likely have occurred.
The state-owned companies are
possibly involved in such crimes.
Thus, the companies diverted attention
by destroying the evidence.”
Regarding the grain depot fire incident,
netizens exclaimed history has repeated itself.
Netizens say that to burn the depot is not a big issue,
but to burn the investigation team is a fierceness.
In June 2011, China’s Oriental Outlook magazine reported
that Shantou Yingbin Hotel had a fire incident in 2000.
Five people were killed, two of whom were CCDI members
that were carrying out a local investigation.
At that time, they just had finished investigating
and were set to leave the next day.
Unexpectedly, a bizarre fire blazed. Rumors circulated
widely that the incident was a tactic to destroy evidence.
Hong Kong’s Apple Daily reported that since 2006
when China’s grain reserve policy was implemented,
Sinograin took over sole management of national grain
and oil reserves, and they expanded on and established many grain storage depots.
During the operation, each level of the entity has personally
gained from state subsidy payment and difference in price.
Many depots falsely claimed more storage than they
actually had and applied for subsidy funds and loans.
Some officials claimed false losses, selling
unregistered grain, then pocketed the profit.
Feng Xingyuan said the CCDI team’s investigation
of Sinograin should be carefully looked into,
all barns should be completely investigated at
the same time and should not be allowed to dispatch inventory between depots.
Feng Xingyuan: “I think the CCDI team should not just
investigate one place, they should inspect all depots in one go.
Take over all management, take strict inventory control,
and do a thorough investigation.”
Wang Jiangsong, a professor at China Institute of
Industrial Relations, said that
the CCDI team is similar to an “imperial envoy” in the
ancient times, they can’t achieve the goal of anti-corruption.
From the history we can tell that the system that’s
allegedly against corruption will grow more corrupt.
Wang Jiangsong: “From 1991 to 1999, the state implemented
a general commissioner system, sending commissioners to state-owned companies.
The commissioners were similar to the CCDI inspection team.
Their job was to supervise the boss of the company
to prevent him from accepting bribes.
In the name of reform, the state-owned assets were turned
into private assets and then could not be accounted for.
In the end, there was no positive outcome.
Many state-owned enterprises
were privatized and operated behind the scenes.
What’s the use of general commissioners?
In 2008, “the Father of Hybrid Rice”, Yuan Longping,
said that the state grain reserves report false data.
Some grain storage bases are empty. Up until now,
grand theft in the grain sector has been countless.
Sources have said that the National Audit Office announced
in May that in 2011, Sinograin deposited about 8.5 billion yuan in the bank without approval.
In addition, in some branches, grain storage depots didn’t
meet regulations, or some have disqualification issues.