The deputy mayor of Xi’an, a northern Chinese city, has apologised after it was revealed that the electric cables on the city’s metro line were substandard.

A post purporting to be written by a whistleblower at cable manufacturer Aokai circulated on Chinese social media before Xi’an Metro said they would investigate. The post claimed that the cables used in building the subway system’s line three were substandard and that they could cause a fire to break out.

Wang Zhiwei of Aokai in a video apologising for his actions. Photo: Screenshot/The Paper video.

The municipal government held a press conference on Monday night to announce their sampling inspection results, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Out of five samples of Aokai low voltage cables taken from line three, none of them passed their inspection, they said. They announced that safety inspections will also be taken on lines one and two.

22 out of the 26 stations on the line used cables from Aokai. They were mainly 400V auxiliary cables and 120V signal control cables and will not affect the control or operation of the subway cars, which are controlled by a 1500V system, an expert said at the conference.

Xi’an deputy mayor apologises. Photo: WeChat.

The city’s deputy mayor Lv Jian said during the press conference that the safety of the subway system concerned human lives, and must not contain any errors. For such a serious problem to occur means that the municipal government has not done its job properly, Lv said. A photo showed him bowing in apology.

He said last week that line three was safe and asked everyone to continue riding without worry.

The Aokai Cable company previously denied the allegations. On Tuesday, Wang Zhiwei, who is in charge of the company, admitted that three quarters of the 40 million RMB worth of cables he supplied to the Xi’an subway were of questionable quality.

Wang Zhiwei apologises. Photo: Screenshot.

He said in a video interview that the company asked for a low price during the bidding process for line three in order to get the bid, then it cut costs in order to earn profit, resulting in a substandard product. He crouched down on his hands and knees in apology in the video.

Eight staff members from the company have been taken into custody, mainland site The Paper reported.

Cables of the same brand were also used in the city of Chengdu, state media Chinanews reported.

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Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.