China detains suspect in steelworker riot death

AP

Police in northeast China have detained the chief suspect in connection with the July death of a steel factory manager beaten by workers during a riot over plans to merge the mill with another company, a state news agency reported Sunday.

Beijing is trying to streamline China’s sprawling steel industry, the world’s largest, by orchestrating a series of mergers aimed at creating globally competitive producers. The mergers often are accompanied by layoffs that sometimes spark complaints that workers receive too little severance pay.

The Xinhua News Agency said the 50-year-old suspect was a worker at the state-owned Tonghua Iron and Steel Group in Jilin province, where thousands of steelworkers clashed with police in July in a protest over plans by Beijing’s Jianlong Group to take a majority stake in the company.

State-run media said the workers beat Jianlong executive Chen Guojun to death and blocked ambulances, police and government workers who tried to rescue Chen.

Xinhua said police captured Ji Yigang on Friday and that he confessed, although the report did not say what charges the man faced. Five other suspects had earlier turned themselves in to police, Xinhua said.

The merger was called off after the riot.

Jianlong had had a stake in Tonghua since 2005 but jettisoned the company after it suffered losses when steel prices dropped, the report said. It said Jianlong revived the takeover plan after steel prices rebounded, making the business profitable again.

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