BEIJING, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday called for technological upgrade to sharpen the competitive edge of China's coal industry and protect Chinese miners.
The premier made the remarks while meeting model workers from the coal industry at the Great Hall of the People.
He expressed appreciation and respect for the 5.5 million workers in the coal industry, saying the Chinese people would not forget the great contributions they had made to the nation's economic development.
The premier said the industry had made encouraging progress in structural reform, technical development and production safety with an annual output of 2.3 billion tons.
He instructed coal companies to step up technological progress to build "safe and highly efficient" mines and protect miners' lives. He urged companies to provide more staff training to raise their safety awareness.
Meanwhile, the premier said stories of dedicated coal workers should be publicized and the whole society should pay due respect to coal workers.
Coal already provides up to 70 percent of China's energy needs, mostly for the power sector and steel industry.