Whistleblower Exposes Guangzhou Metro Line 3 Safety Failures

A girl standing on a subway platform.

A girl standing on a subway platform.

Signs of shoddy workmanship are apparent on a section of Guangzhou’s Beiyan Metro Line 3, says an engineer from the company responsible for its safety inspection. The line was completed in anticipation of the 2010 Asian Games to be held there.

In a post on his Sina blog titled “The deadly path to the Asian Games has not yet gained the attention of higher authorities”, construction engineer Zhong Jizhang (who nicknames himself “冒死爷” [“Life-Risking Grandpa”]) points out in detail the relevant guidelines that the project fails on, and calls on the relevant government departments to fix them. He goes into (quite technical) detail, specifying the measurements he took, and the standards that they don’t meet. An example of some of the evidence he provides (a concrete strength test report):

Concrete strength test for a section of the new Guangzhou Line 3 subway.

Zhong even includes scans of his numerous qualifications to back up his claims:

Zhong Jizhang's credentials.

Zhong Jizhang's credentials.

Zhong Jizhang's credentials.

Netizens quickly worked themselves into a frenzy, and on the 16th, the media picked up the story. Ma Diming of “The First”, a Beijing newspaper, sums up the bigger picture:

The obvious problem is since construction isn’t done openly, whenever there are safety problems there’s no way for anyone not involved to find out about them. This issue with the Guangzhou metro is an example. If this brave engineer hadn’t blown the whistle, the public would still be in the dark. Quality control, and the eventual opening of the line would have happened without a hitch. As soon as a problem emerged, the responsible party would not have been found, or a deep investigation be attempted – accusers and those responsible are often in the same ‘group’, have mutual interests, or the same viewpoint.

The problem is in this: There are actually a lot of problems that occur in construction, but very few people like Zhong Jizhang are willing to take a risk and tell people about it. This means that whenever an accident occurs, the reason is kept secret. Risk takers like him are few, but incidents where people are reckless, when unfavorable reports are concealed, or problematic people are relieved of their position are numerous. No one knows how many construction defects are concealed by falsification of reports, pressure applied or by being ignored. In such a situation, accidents caused by safety issues being always left unresolved, or the suppression of serious accidents become unavoidable.

In response to one of the many copies of Zhang’s blog post reposted around the Chinese internet:

Comments from Tianya:


My God, what kind of society is this.


If they even dare make fake medicine, what could they possibly not dare to do?


I was planning to go to Guangzhou next month, now I think I’ll just be good and stay at home. I hope more people pay attention, and they find out the truth… Ding this up~~~


Safety on the metro shouldn’t be taken lightly, each car is full of human lives! Lou zhu, your comrades in Yizhuang township of Beijing salute you! Guangzhou people, take extra care when commuting!


Thanks to this lou zhu, you who have protected the lives of a group of people. When I go visit to watch the Asian Games, I won’t be taking that metro line. Thank you, generous people like you is exactly what China needs. Once again, thanks!


Ding this up. I hope the relevant authorities make a thorough investigation.
A harmonious societies needs voices like this~~


Examples of Guangzhou’s tofu construction are too numerous to count. Their drainage system is terrible, there are already a lot of small vehicles that are paying for it. Guangzhou’s roads having to be fixed four or five times a year is commonplace. The same road is dug up and fixed, fixed then dug up again, it’s painful to watch. This is how taxpayers’ money is stuffed into those parasites’ wallets.


Mr Zhong, be careful!
You exposing this, who knows how many bad guys are looking to beat you up!


I hope the relevant authorities investigate this thoroughly. How many peoples’ lives [could be at risk].
I salute the lou zhu! I hope this post isn’t river crabbed. You can’t stop the voice of the people.


I’m in the construction business. This isn’t an isolated case, it happens everywhere!

A new metro station at for Guangzhou's Line 3 subway.
A new metro station at for Guangzhou's Line 3 subway.

Ticketing gates for Guangzhou's Line 3 and Line 4 subways.
Ticketing gates for Guangzhou's Line 3 and Line 4 subways.


Written by maxiewawa

Native English speaker who'd like to make a living from translating some day. Until then continuing to teach English.


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