China: anti-mining protests rock Inner Mongolia

Chinese authorities have tightened security across the province of Inner Mongolia after days of unrest, which began last week when a Mongol herdsman was killed by a coal truck as a group of traditional herders sought to block a convoy from crossing their pastureland. Hundreds of riot police armed with batons have been posted at the main square in provincial capital Hohhot. Access to the internet has been blocked in some areas, and universities and schools are under close watch. “Students were closely monitored by their teachers and security personnel inside the campuses,” the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) said in an e-mailed statement. China accused unspecified “foreign forces” of trying to exploit protests by ethnic Mongolian students, but the government also pledged to address the underlying issues—the mining industry’s rapid expansion and its impact on the environment.

Locals told The Guardian the latest protests took place on May 30 in Hohhot despite tightened security. “It was about 20 Mongolians in Xinhua Square,” said a blogger, who goes under the name Blue Sky Pigeon. “But I doubt it will last long because the controls are tight.” The repressive measures are overseen by Hu Chunhua, whose appointment as party chief of the resource-rich region last year was widely seen as a step towards top office in 2020. (WSJ, June 1; Radio Free Asia, May 31; The Guardian, BBC News, May 30)

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