* Inquiry followed deadly 2015 blasts in Tianjin port city
* Warehouse blasts killed nearly 170, injured hundreds
(Recasts with details of case, background)
BEIJING Feb 21 China on Friday jailed the
former head of its safety watchdog for 15 years for graft, the
state broadcaster said, wrapping up an inquiry launched after
deadly blasts in 2015 killed nearly 170 people in the city of
Tianjin, where he worked.
Regular mishaps, from factory fires to mine cave-ins, have
boosted public concern about China's relatively lax safety
standards, which the government has pledged to improve.
Yang Dongliang, former head of the State Administration of
Work Safety, who spent much of his career in the port city, was
suspected of violating law and party discipline and sacked days
after the blasts in a warehouse storing hazardous chemicals.
A court in Beijing found Yang guilty of abusing his
position, including when he was former vice mayor of
northeastern Tianjin, by accepting bribes to grant contracts to
companies, China Central Television (CCTV) said.
In 1999, a property developer gave Yang an apartment in a
new development complex that he failed register with the
The court reduced his sentence because Yang confessed and
took steps to return bribe money and assets to the state
treasury, CCTV said.
State media did not mention the blasts. Yang could not
immediately be reached for comment.
The company operating the chemical warehouse that blew up in
August 2015, injuring hundreds, did not have the licence needed
to handle and store dangerous materials for more than a year,
state media said at the time.
Yang's agency, the State Administration of Work Safety, said
on its website he signed a directive in 2012 allowing companies
to function without a licence to work with dangerous chemicals
as long as they had a licence governing port operations.
Chinese president Xi Jinping vowed after the Tianjin blasts
that the authorities should learn the lessons paid for in blood.
The explosions in the world's 10th-busiest port forced the
evacuation of thousands of people from a large industrial site
and nearby residential areas after toxic chemicals were detected
in the air.
There were about 700 tons of deadly sodium cyanide in the
warehouse at the time, the government said.
(Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Clarence