Chinese Leader Nervous About Regime Stability After Gas Blast Kills at Least 25

By Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.
June 13, 2021 Updated: June 14, 2021

After a huge gas explosion in central China’s Shiyan city, Chinese leader Xi Jinping ordered the regime to bolster its rule, rather than ordering local officials to speed up the rescue of people still trapped beneath collapsed buildings.

The explosion happened around 6:40 a.m. on June 13, destroying a busy market in Zhangwan district of Shiyan city, Hubei province, as locals were shopping for the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival. As of June 14, at least 25 people had been killed and another 138 injured, with 37 in severe condition. Countless more are still buried underneath the rubble.

Xi then ordered via state-run CCTV in the evening that the regime must “investigate the cause of the accident,” “make officials accountable,” “strengthen [officials’] political acumen,” “prevent more major accidents,” “maintain the stability of society,” and “create a good atmosphere for the Party’s centennial celebration,” referring to the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“Maintaining stability” is a euphemism for maintaining the CCP’s power. “Make officials accountable” is a method the CCP uses to create an incentive for officials to hide the true scale of a disaster and incident. Officials are dismissed if death tolls are high.

The Shiyan blast happened the day after the CCP assigned Huang Jianxiong to be the city mayor.

“Xi’s order after the incident apparently shows he’s concerned about maintaining the stability of the Chinese regime over saving peoples’ lives,” U.S.-based China affairs commentator Tang Jingyuan told The Epoch Times on June 13.

In the same CCTV program, Premier Li Keqiang said he was concerned that China will see more safety incidents given the numerous fatal accidents being reported across the country in recent times. He asked local authorities to speed up their rescue efforts and for the whole country to examine the possible safety risks.

Xi emphasized in an announcement on June 13 that officials in positions of responsibility will be held accountable for any future incidents, implying that officials will face political consequences such as loss of rank, while ordering local authorities to tighten their control.

Tragic Explosion

Residents close to the market told The Epoch Times on June 13 that the neighborhood was full of the wreckage of flattened houses and that bodies could be seen after the blast. They said the regime had blocked the affected streets and were preventing people from returning home.

They said they believed there were still people buried in the rubble.

“[I saw and heard that] wounded people are being treated at different hospitals. Dead bodies were picked up [and sent to the funeral home] directly. There were still a large number of people waiting to be rescued [when we were forced to leave],” said Li, a resident who lives beside the market and didn’t want to give her full name.

Wang, a business owner who operates a hotpot restaurant in the market, told The Epoch Times: “The market has three floors. The two floors above the ground are restaurants, stores, and shops. The underground floor is a wet market. The whole street was blown up. Very scary!”

Another resident told The Epoch Times: “It’s a busy market. A lot of seniors like to enjoy the fresh air by sitting beside the shops [in the market] in the early morning. Tomorrow [June 14] is the Dragon Boat Festival. You can imagine how many shoppers were there [when the blast happened].”

Epoch Times Photo
Firemen injured in the gas blast in Shiyan, central China’s Hubei Province, on June 13, 2021. (Supplied/The Epoch Times)

Li said the authorities had asked her family and her neighbors to leave the area at 8:00 a.m. on June 13 and didn’t allow them to return, even to collect emergency items.

“The regime invoked martial law in the neighborhood. Residents can only leave and aren’t allowed to enter,” said another resident from Yanhu street in Zhangwan district, which is close to the blast.

Li and two other interviewees told The Epoch Times that they had heard that the explosion was caused by a leaking gas pipeline.

The Epoch Times contacted authorities and media offices in Shiyan city, as well as the local blood bank, for comment. Officials either said they didn’t have information on the situation or that they were too busy to answer questions.

During the day, residents in Shiyan lined up in front of the local blood center to donate blood after they heard that hospitals didn’t have enough to care for the injured.

Threat of Lone-Wolf Attacks

The Chinese people have experienced numerous public safety threats in the past month alone.

At 10:30 a.m. on June 13, four hours after the Shiyan gas blast, six workers died in Chengdu, a city in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province, when they were cleaning a food factory’s wastewater pipe and pond.

On June 12, a toxic chemical leak from a truck unloading methyl formate killed at least eight people and injured three at a chemical handling facility in Guiyang city in southwestern China’s Guizhou Province, according to local authorities.

On June 10, 13 miners were trapped underground in an iron mine in Xinzhou city in northern China’s Shanxi Province, after a significant volume of groundwater infiltrated the mine.

However, the most concerning safety incidents for the CCP are random lone-wolf attacks against society, which are on the rising and becoming a major challenge for the regime. Though this type of incident doesn’t target the CCP and its institutions directly, the majority have been committed by people with grudges against the regime.

On June 5, a 25-year-old man attacked people with a knife in a busy street in Anqing city in eastern China’s Anhui Province, killing six people and injuring 14 others, with one left in serious condition. The regime claimed that the man’s rampage was caused by family issues.

On May 29, a 41-year-old man drove into pedestrians and attacked bystanders with a knife, injuring eight people and leaving four in critical condition. Authorities said the man was taking revenge on society after having conflicts with his ex-wife.

On May 28, a man in his 40s injured five primary school students with a knife in Chenzhou city in southern China’s Hunan Province. At least one student died in the hospital. The regime’s official report claimed that the man had mental issues and no motive for the knife attack.

Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.