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Report: Tianjin warehouse owners used guanxi to land phony safety licenses

The owners of the warehouse in the port of Tianjin that exploded last week and killed more than 100 people obtained fraudulent safety licenses through their connections with fire and safety officials, China state media said.

Ruihai International Logistics owned the warehouse. The main shareholders of the company are ex-Sinochem executive Yu Xuewei and Dong Shexuan, the son of a late police chief, VAO News reported.

“In an interview with the official Xinhua news agency, Dong and Yu admitted to using their connections, or guanxi, with local officials to obtain various fire safety, land, environmental and safety certifications,” VOA said.

“My guanxi are in police and fire. When we needed a fire inspection, I went to meet with officials at the Tianjin port fire squad. I gave them the files and soon they gave me the appraisal,” Dong said.

Dong and Yu are in police custody, along with eight other local officials.

“The People’s Daily reported last week that Ruihai had operated without a license to work with dangerous chemicals because of an administrative loophole,” VAO said.

This week China said the head of the national work safety regulator is under investigation for corruption.

Yang Dongliang, head of the state administration of work safety, is “currently undergoing investigation” for suspected violations of party discipline and the law, a phrase often used to indicate corruption, the Singapore Straits Times said.

Safety regulations don’t allow storage of dangerous chemicals within 1,000 meters of major roads and public buildings, China media reported.

The Tianjin warehouse was only about 560 meters from residential buildings. It was filled with 3,000 tons of hazardous materials, including sodium cyanide and potassium nitrate, VOA said.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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