(Bloomberg) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping urged rescuers to make all-out efforts to save 53 people missing after a coal mine accident that also killed two people — a disaster that comes less than two weeks before a major political event.
Xi also ordered a probe into the accident on Wednesday, state broadcaster China Central Television reported. The mine is located in the Alxa league, in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
The incident comes at a sensitive time on the political calendar for Xi. The annual National People’s Congress meeting beginning on March 5 is set to finalize a broad reshuffle of personnel that kicked off last year.
Xi is trying to keep his government’s focus on boosting an economy that was left battered by three years of Covid Zero. China saw its most widespread protests in decades in November as people around the country voiced frustration with the harsh policy.
Read: An Obscure Chinese Mining Law Is Hobbling Global Energy Security
The world’s No. 2 economy has struggled for years to ensure that coal mining industry is safe. A spate of deadly accidents in late 2020 and in early 2021 led to a legal change that boosted penalties for company officials found to be at fault.
After the latest accident, the coal industry will be waiting to see how regulators react given the upcoming political events, the China Coal Transportation and Distribution Association said in a WeChat post.
--With assistance from Lin Zhu.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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