See More on Facebook

Analysis

China defends treasure hunt at India border

The mining project is being undertaken in Lhunze county, under Chinese control, adjacent to India’s northeast.


Written by

Updated: June 6, 2018

China has begun large-scale mining operations on its side of the disputed border with India in the Himalayas, where a huge trove of gold, silver and other minerals worth nearly US$60 billion has been found.

The mining project is being undertaken in Lhunze county under Chinese control, adjacent to the border of India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which is claimed by Beijing. The mining operations are being seen by India as part of China’s move to reclaim parts of Arunachal Pradesh, which the latter refers to as South Tibet.

The two countries fought a brief but bloody border war in the area in 1962.

“South Tibet” is a treasure-trove of minerals – with the area being the world’s top producer of lithium and China’s biggest reserve for 10 different metals.

The mining operations were first reported by a Hong Kong-based daily last month, soon after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping held an informal summit in Wuhan. The meet was significant as it followed last year’s 73-day military standoff at Doklam that took India-China ties to a new low.

Experts say the mining operations may lead to a situation akin to another South China Sea, and that China is rapidly building infrastructure in the ecologically fragile Himalayas – which stretch across India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Bhutan and Nepal.

Beijing has defended its right to carry out large-scale mining, saying the area is “completely within China’s sovereign territory”.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told the media: “The area mentioned by the report totally belongs to China’s territory. China conducts regular geological and scientific research on its own territory.”

China also hoped India would not be provoked by the mining activities, according to a Press Trust of India report from Beijing.

The demographics of Lhunze county have apparently changed in the past year or so, with people pouring into the region following the mining activities. The unprecedented heavy investment by the Chinese government to build roads and other infrastructure in the area has made access easy.

Zheng Youye, a professor at the China University of Geosciences in Beijing, told a Hong Kong-based daily the new-found ores could tip the balance of power between China and India in the Himalayas.

“This is similar to what has happened in the South China Sea” where Beijing has asserted its claim to much of the contested waters by building artificial islands and increasing its naval activity, he said.

Geostrategist Brahma Chellaney has expressed concern at the ecological damage that the mining will result in.

“From its rush to mine gold in a border area captured from India to its frenzied dam-building on rivers flowing to other countries, China has gone into overdrive to appropriate natural resources in Tibet, rich in both water and minerals…Having depleted its own natural resources through an improvident style of economic growth, China is avariciously draining resources from the Tibetan Plateau,” Chellaney wrote in Hindustan Times.

India has, so far, not reacted to reports of the Chinese mining. India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj today (June 6) met her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the margins of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) foreign ministers’ meet in Pretoria and discussed ways to boost bilateral ties.

Public policy expert Jansen Tham says there are three considerations to explain Beijing’s seemingly hardline position on continuing mining activities in Lhunze – evidenced by the reactionary statements from its foreign ministry.

First, the projected value of the minerals in Lhunze makes it lucrative for companies – often state-owned – to build the necessary mining infrastructure, the Diplomat reported.

Second, the perpetuation of mining in Lhunze can be attributed to Beijing’s desire to consolidate sovereignty over disputed border regions, and hence safeguard its national security vis-à-vis New Delhi.

The third consideration behind Beijing’s mining activities is the need for a regional balance of power in the Indian subcontinent.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Lamat R Hasan
About the Author: Lamat is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis

Swift assistance needed to rehabilitate Hokkaido’s quake-stricken industries

To realize Hokkaido’s post-quake rehabilitation, it is indispensable to rebuild its industries. A half month has passed since the Hokkaido earthquake, which registered the highest level on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7. A power blackout that spread to all parts of the prefecture has been resolved. The No. 1 unit at the Tomato-Atsuma thermal power plant — a facility that plays a central role in the supply of electricity there — has been brought back on line. The government has withdrawn its request for power-saving, and neon lighting has returned to flourishing areas in Sapporo. However, scars from the earthquake have not yet healed. Even if the amount of direct damage, including that caused to roads, rivers and forest land, is calculated alone, the figure exceeds ¥150 billion. There are still many disaster victims in evacuation centers. T


By The Japan News
September 25, 2018

Analysis

Maldives strongman Abdulla Yameen in shock election defeat

The Maldivian election was watched closely as an indicator of China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region. Maldives strongman Abdulla Yameen’s hopes for a second presidential term were dashed on September 24 with opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih defeating him in the country’s elections. After a months-long sweeping crackdown on the opposition and a brief state of emergency imposed by the autocratic Yameen, the election on September 23 was preceded by a bitter campaign during which opposition leaders frequently accused the ruling regime of rights abuses and oppression. Several independent news websites reported that after the counting of a majority of the votes, Solih had won more than 58 per cent of the votes to 41 per cent for Yameen. Hours after the emergence of the informal results, Yameen conceded defeat to Solih during a televised news conference, saying: “Mal


By Lamat R Hasan
September 25, 2018

Analysis

Thai seafood giant to address slavery issues at UN

Thailand’s progress in promoting human rights in the fishing industry will be addressed in a panel session on modern slavery and human trafficking at the United Nations General Assembly by seafood giants Thai Union. Darian McBain, global director of sustainability for the Thai Union Group, will address the panel on the topic of “Stepping up Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking”. “Thailand has made a number of advances on human rights, which should be commended, but there is more work to be done and I believe Thailand has the opportunity b


By The Nation (Thailand)
September 24, 2018

Analysis

Opinion: One Belt, One Road: We must secure our interest

Shah Husain Imam argues in the Daily Star that Bangladesh must put its interests first in joining China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. The ancient Silk Road, of which the Belt and Road Initiative is a gigantic new avatar, dates back to the Chinese Han Dynasty’s westward expansion more than 2100 years ago. The Road derived its name from the lucrative silk trade along the routes through which it branched into what are today the central Asian countries Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, as well as present-day Pakistan and India to the south. These routes eventually spanned 4,000 miles to Europe. Interestingly, silk was regarded as more precious than gold as a commodity in those times as if to convey the misty romanticism with the old world charm about a fine fabric. At any rate, the Silk Road by no means offered silken smooth passage to travellers like Marco P


By Daily Star
September 21, 2018

Analysis

The aftermath of super-Typhoon Mangkhut

Typhoon Mangkhut, which swept through the Philippines, Hong Kong and Southern China over the weekend will go down on history as one of the regions most powerful storms in years. The Philippines In the Philippines, the aftermath of the storm which locally bore the name “Ompong” has been devastating. More than half a million people have been impacted and the latest death toll shows that the typhoon claimed the lives of at least 74 people and injured 74 more. As many as 55 people are still missing. The majority of those casualties are related to the dozens of landslides that tore through the Cordillera Administrative Region, a gold-mining zone. The search effort for those who are still missing has been slow-going. Major roads were rendered impassable, making heavy e


By Quinn Libson
September 19, 2018

Analysis

How a new party trumped the ruling PDP in Bhutan’s primary polls

In its third election as a full-fledged democracy, Bhutanese came out in large numbers to oust the ruling People’s Democratic Party run by Harvard-educated Tshering Tobgay. Come October 18 and Bhutan will witness a close fight between one of its oldest political parties – Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) – and Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), a new party that has gained popularity in the recent past. The tiny Himalayan kingdom – called Druk Yul in Bhutanese (Land of the Thunder Dragon) – is nestled between economic rivals China and India. It opened up to the world as late as the 1970s. Before Bhutan became a two-party parliamentary democracy in March 2008, the Wangchuck hereditary monarchy wielded power from 1907. On September 15, Bhutanese


By Lamat R Hasan
September 19, 2018