China says gold mine operation in Tibetan county close to Arunachal is its sovereign right
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson says the country’s position on the boundary issue with India is consistent and clear cut and “China never recognised the so-called Arunachal Pradesh”.Updated: May 21, 2018 16:47 IST
China on Monday defended large-scale mining operations in the Himalayas close to the Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh to extract minerals worth billions of dollars, saying it has “full sovereignty” to carry out “geological” activities in the area.
China has begun mining operations in Lhunze county in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) adjacent to Arunachal Pradesh, the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported Sunday.
The report said a huge cache of gold, silver and other precious minerals valued at about $60 billion has been found in the location, a remote and ecologically fragile area.
“I have also noted the report mentioned by you. The area mentioned by the report totally belongs to China,” Lu Kang, ministry of foreign affairs (MFA) spokesperson said at the regular ministry briefing on Monday.
“China conducts regular geological and scientific research on its own territory. It is completely within China’s sovereignty. China always attaches importance to protecting ecological environment. We hope relevant media can refrain from hyping up based on groundless report,” Lu said.
Quoting anonymous sources, the SCMP report said “…the mines are part of an ambitious plan by Beijing to reclaim South Tibet, a sizeable chunk of disputed territory currently under Indian control”.
China’s moves to lay claim to the region’s natural resources while rapidly building up infrastructure could turn it into ‘another South China Sea’ they said”.
The spokesperson did not deny the report directly but seemingly dismissed the insinuation about “reclaiming south Tibet”, which is how Arunachal Pradesh is known in China.
“I hope the media can stop hyping up based on groundless report and the area mentioned by the report belongs to China’s territory and the geological and scientific activities are conducted on China’s territory,” Lu said.
China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet and the claim is part of the Sino-India dispute over the 3,488 km along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
On the part of the report which said China is rapidly building infrastructure to turn the area into another South China Sea like scenario, Lu said, “I can tell you that China’s position on the India-China boundary is consistent and clear cut. China never recognised the so-called Arunachal Pradesh.”
The remote Lhunze was in the news last October when President Xi Jinping urged Tibetan herdsmen staying along the border with Arunachal Pradesh to “set down roots” and safeguard “Chinese territory”.
Responding to a letter from a family of Tibetan herders from Lhunze, Xi said it was important to develop their remote hometown in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
“Chinese President Xi Jinping has encouraged a herding family in Lhunze County, near the Himalayas in southwest China’s TAR to set down roots in the border area, safeguard the Chinese territory and develop their hometown,” official news agency Xinhua had quoted Xi as saying.