Police have arrested nine people in Leibo County on suspicion of trafficking mentally handicapped people to coal mines, murdering them, and trying to extort compensation from mining companies by pretending to be the victims' relatives. In China's dangerous mining industry, it is common for companies to pay the relatives of accident victims in order to prevent wider investigation or enforcement of stricter safety standards. The traffickers from Leibo allegedly killed at least 20 people over the past two years in order to take advantage of this practice.
What started with the December arrests of top officials for the Chengdu Blades on allegations of bribery has ballooned into a general crackdown on corruption in Chinese football. Twenty-two players, managers, and other officials have been arrested so far.
In more uplifting sports-related news, on Jan. 14 Chengdu will host a table tennis match to benefit victims of the 2008 earthquake. All ticket proceeds will go toward new sports facilities for Sichuan schools impacted by the quake. Chinese champions Ma Lin, Wang Liqin, and Wang Hao will face off against an international team comprised of Timo Boll from Germany, Michael Maze of Denmark, and Ryu Seung-Min of South Korea.
Speaking of earthquake relief, the Ministry of Finance announced last Monday the allocation of 20 billion yuan to reconstruction and relief in 2010. Some of the money will be used for projects in Gansu and Shaanxi, but the largest part will go to Sichuan. This spending comes in addition to the 130 billion yuan spent last year and allocated again this year, and is part of an effort to accelerate reconstruction toward a two-year completion instead of the originally scheduled three years. Among recently finished reconstruction projects is the Fulong Taoist Temple in Dujiang Weirs, which is now open to the public.
Chengdu plans to begin adding more non-stop international flights in the next three years, including flights to Tokyo and Dubai this year.
Compiled by Isaac Myers