Inner Mongolia, which covers more than a 10th of China’s land mass and has its largest coal reserves, was rocked by protests in 2011 after an ethnic Mongol herder was killed by a truck after taking part in protests against pollution caused by a coal mine. Ethnic Mongols in China have long complained that mining and desertification have destroyed their traditional grazing lands, and that the government has forced them to settle in permanent dwellings in defiance of their herding traditions. Calling for an end to “illegal land grabs” and for Han Chinese miners and farmers to vacate traditional grasslands, Mongol demonstrators protested in the regional capital of Hohhot. From March 26 to March 28, more than 100 people demonstrated outside a local government building and the Inner Mongolian city of Bayannur. The protests came after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited the region last week. On Monday, Chinese police detained at least 39 ethnic Mongol herders participating in the protest.

 

(Chicago Tribune, Reuters, April 3)