Tibetans challenging Chinese mining operations in northwestern China’s Qinghai province have vowed to take their protest to Beijing, citing what they call directives from the country’s leaders to protect the environment, local sources say.
Mining has now resumed in one of two sites in Qinghai’s Dzatoe (in Chinese, Zaduo) county where clashes last week between police and Tibetan protesters left dozens injured and eight detained, according to local sources.
Tibetan residents of the area have long regarded the mountains targeted for mining as the abodes of protective deities, and documents with government seals appearing to give central government approval for the work were later found to be fakes, one source said.
Protesters now argue that their attempts to obstruct mining activities were legal and in conformity with speeches made by national leaders, a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday.
“Their actions are in accord with statements made by [former Chinese president] Jiang Zemin and [current Chinese president] Xi Jinping,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The mining sites in Dzatoe fall within the area described by the central government as a protected environment,” he added.
“If the protesters who were detained are not released, and their efforts are not successful in the county or the prefecture, the protesters are planning to take their appeal directly to Beijing,” he said.
Protesters at one point set up a large banner with a photo of Xi Jinping and quotes, both in Tibetan and Chinese, from a statement by Xi urging protection of the environment as “everyone’s responsibility,” the source said.
Meanwhile, a television broadcast in Dzatoe on Thursday declared that mining activities in the area will proceed, a second source said.
“They say that to promote economic development in Qinghai, the mines need to be dug,” the source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Anyone attempting to resist will be severely punished,” he added.
Reported by Norbu Damdul and Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.