Beijing, May 20: China has begun large-scale mining operations on its side of the border with Arunachal Pradesh. A huge stock of gold, silver and other precious minerals valued at about US 60 billion dollars has been found in Lhunze County, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
According to the report, projecting the mining operations are part of China's move to take over Arunachal Pradesh. China always claims Arunachal Pradesh as a part of South Tibet. People familiar with the project say the mines are part of an ambitious plan by Beijing to reclaim South Tibet, reported South China Morning Post.
China is rapidly building up the infrastructure in the area to claim the natural resources. China is following the same strategy which it followed in the South China Sea, where it had built artificial islands to gain control of the area.
The report of large-scale mining in Lhunze County surfaced within a month of the first ever informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The main aim of that summit was to reduce tensions to avoid incidents like the Doklam military standoff. After the standoff, the relations between both the countries had hit a new low.
Just about two months after Doklam, Xi in a rare gesture replied to correspondence from a herding family in Lhunze County. In his correspondence, XI had underscored Beijing's claim to the entire area. The family is based in Yumai, China's smallest town in terms of population. Yumai is located close to Arunachal Pradesh.
Xi thanked the father and his two daughters for their loyalty and contributions to China. The Chinses President also urged the people of Lhunze to ‘set down roots’ to develop the area for the national interest.
The Chinese government is investing heavily in building roads and other infrastructure in the area. It has provided easy access to the area. As per the report, most of the precious minerals which include rare earth used to make hi-tech products are hidden under Lhunze county.
The scale of mining activity in Lhunze has increased tremendously. The mining in the area had surpassed as compared to other areas in Tibet in the last year. Thousands of tonnes of ore is loaded and transported out by trucks every day along roads built through every village. The South China Morning Post reported that extensive power lines and communication networks had been established and construction is underway on an airport that could handle passenger.
More than 80 percent of Lhunze county government's tax income came from mining. Zheng Youye, a professor at the China University of Geosciences in Beijing and the lead scientist for a Beijing-funded northern Himalayan minerals survey, confirmed to the Post that a series of discoveries in recent years put the potential value of ores under Lhunze and the nearby area at 370 billion yuan (USD 58 billion). According to Zheng, Chinese troops withdrew after the 1962 war from the areas in Arunachal Pradesh as they had no people to hold the territory.
The mining activities in the region could lead to rapid increase in population in the area. The scientist believed that this would help in stabilising Chinese diplomatic and military operations in the area with the aim of claiming entire area including Arunachal Pradesh. Experts believe that China would take the same approach to the Himalayas as in the South China Sea.
(With inputs from PTI)