Tragic Train Crash in China Was No Accident

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SHANGHAI, China -- The tragic train crash that happened in Wenzhou, China, killing 39 people and injuring hundreds, was not just an accident; it reflects a systematic problem in the way the railroads are managed in China, according to a commentary in Shanghai Business Daily. In recent years, China's rapid development of high-speed rails has put it in the international spotlight, but its management problems are just as obvious. Last year, former Railway Minister Liu Zhijun, deputy chief engineer Zhang Shuguang and several other high ranking officials with the Railway Ministry were laid off. Apart from personnel issues, the commentary points out, there is a clear conflict of interest in the way the Railway Ministry is run: The Chinese government is directly involved with the operation of the railways but at the same time, plays the role of the regulator that oversees the operation. 

As the new Railway Minister Sheng Guangzu pointed out in April, the main problem with the Railway Ministry is that the government holds too much power over the enterprises involved, so it's difficult to improve the services. The first step to improve the railway system, the commentary argues, is to separate the government's role as regulator from its business interests.