(Adds comments from companies, details)
By Samuel Shen and Fayen Wong
KUNSHAN, China Aug 7 China has suspended work
at more than 200 factories in an eastern province for safety
checks as part of a nationwide review following an explosion at
an auto parts plant that killed 75 people, government officials
and state media said.
Officials have been ordered to shut all aluminium and
magnesium processing factories - and others that generate metal
dust - for safety violations, the Jiangsu provincial government
said in a statement late on Wednesday.
Some 214 factories in Suzhou and 54 factories in Kunshan
have been shut and will not reopen until they obtain government
It was not immediately clear how long that would take, but
some companies affected by the safety blitz said they expect to
resume work in about one to three weeks.
When Reuters visited the Suzhou Industrial Park, which hosts
a number of foreign auto-part makers, most of the factories were
still running and had only suspended work in areas that generate
Metaldyne, which makes automotive parts such as valves and
gears, said the government order only affected one of its
productions line that uses about a dozen workers out of a total
of 300 at the plant.
"So far, our production and delivery schedule hasn't been
affected, but there may be some impact if operation at that
facility is suspended for too long," said Yuan, a safety officer
at Metaldyne, who would only give her surname.
She added that the plant should resume full production in
between two and three weeks.
An official at Georg Fischer, which produces cast components
for vehicles, consumer goods and machinery, said the company
only had to shut down one piece of equipment and expects
production at the affected workshop to restart in about a week.
Provinces such as Shaanxi, Tianjin and Sichuan, as well as
Guangxi region, have also stepped up safety checks. The
crackdown comes after a blast at Kunshan Zhongrong Metal
Products Co Ltd on Saturday, China's worst industrial accident
in a year.
State media reported that investigators' preliminary
findings show Kunshan Zhongrong bears the main responsibility
for the blast in Jiangsu, which also injured 185 people when a
flame was lit in a dust-filled room.
An hour's drive from Shanghai, Kunshan Zhongrong polishes
wheel hubs for automakers including General Motors Co.
"The suspended factories were found to suffer the same
safety risk of dust pollution," the official Xinhua news agency
said on Wednesday, citing the government in Suzhou, which
includes the satellite city Kunshan.
Xinhua did not give further details on the factories or what
they produced. Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces are known for
their alloy wheel makers, with Jiangsu home to four of China's
top 10 exporters, according to the Automobile Association.
Earlier this week, President Xi Jinping demanded a full
inquiry into what happened at Kunshan Zhongrong and that those
responsible be punished. China's State Council Work Safety
Commission ordered nationwide inspections and a safety campaign
targeting factories that process aluminium, magnesium, coal,
wood, paper, tobacco, cotton and plastic, Xinhua said.
Xinhua also said authorities would draw up comprehensive
regulations for dust control at factories.
Police took at least two Kunshan Zhongrong representatives
into custody earlier this week, Xinhua reported.
(Additional reporting by the Shanghai Newsroom, Michael Martina
in Beijing and Clare Baldwin in Hong Kong; Editing by David