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China- Greater Transparency in Report of Submarine Accident (4 Mar 2003)

China's report of a recent submarine accident in the media appears to be an attempt by the Chinese Government to be more transparent. Xinhua news agency disclosed that the submarine accident killed all of its 70 men, however the cause of the accident was not reported. The vessel has been towed back to an unidentified port.

In the wake of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), President Hu Jintao has promised greater openness and the report signals the first time a fatal submarine accident has been reported.

Military experts stated that such a report required Mr. Jiang Zemin's approval. China's former president is currently chairman of the Central Military Commission.

The report stated that the accident occurred during a submarine exercise. The submarine, No. 361 was a Ming-class vessel, which could hold nine officers, and 46 men thus rising suspicions on the 70 reported deaths.

Some military experts suspect the deaths to be caused by a poisonous gas leak.