Two articles grabbed my attention from Chinamining.org this morning. They both relate to the fact China’s ethnic regions also happen to be home to a great proportion of the countries commodity and energy wealth.
You can click on the titles of each respective article to access the stories in full from Chinamining.org.
–> Tibet has copper ore reserves of 30 mln t, half of China’s total
Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region has geological copper ore reserves of more than 30 million tons, accounting for over a half of the country’s total, according to the region’s geological prospecting bureau.
The bureau director said that Tibet is the largest region in China by its copper resources reserves. By 2008, 329 copper ore deposits had been found in the region, including 11 large deposits and six mid-size ones. Its Qulong copper ore mine, the largest one in Asia, is estimated to possess copper reserves of more than 10 million tons.
[Photo I personally took during a trip I made to
the region in December 2006, Bennett A. Reiss]
–> 1st Kunming Mining & Cooperation Forum (Sept 2-4, 2009)
Entering the 21st century, the global mining industry is writing a new chapter. It is an era of resource economy. Mining market becomes more open and capitalized. Mineral exploring as well as financing becomes more diversified.
Yunnan is rich in natural resources, known as “the Kingdom of non-ferrous metals”. More than 150 kinds of minerals have been proved there, accounting for 92.6% of Chinese total. Among the proved 92 minerals, 9 of them have the largest reserves in China and 21 of them are listed within top three. Mining as one of the five pillar industries in Yunnan plays an important role in the development of the local economy.
Earlier this summer another ethnic region grabbed world headlines. Does the region of Xinjiang ring any bells? Xinjiang is home to a large number of China’s ethnic Muslims, is culturally quite similar to other republics in central Asia and is often referred to as East Turkestan. Xinjiang is also on track to become China’s most important oil and gas producing region.
This article, “Xinjiang’s oil and gas equivalent ranks first in China” is from little over a year ago (July 2008), asserts that Xinjiang has already passed Daqing (China’s other oil producing region) as the number region in oil and gas output.
As one hand seizes development, the other taps into the potential to allow Xinjiang’s oil output to soar. The latest statistics show that Xinjiang’s annual oil and gas equivalent output has already exceeded that in Daqing and ranks the first in the country.
The third national resources evaluation shows that: Xinjiang’s total oil and natural gas resource reserves exceeded 30 billion tons. Although it is rich in resources, Xinjiang still requires development and a reduction in consumption. Recently, Xinjiang has been producing 75,000 tons of crude oil daily, occupying 14.4 percent of the country’s daily crude oil output. In 2007, Xinjiang’s oil and gas equivalent reached 44.94 million tons, and ranked at the top.
In all likelihood, the development of commodity sectors in these regions will be controlled by Beijing…not locals. What industries can these regions develop as to diversify their economic development from commodity sector led growth?
Furthermore, Yunnan’s strategic location in SE Asia put it in a good place to be at the center of the future growth of trade and exchange between China and the countries of Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos.
[Map courtesy of leafgovso.co.uk]
Tibetan tourism is growing as well, but remains inhibited by the sporadic changing of restrictions and the need to acquire a special internal visa or permission to visit.
When analyzing this situation from a the perspective of the people in the Chinese government determining domestic policy, China can not and will not simply let three of its most resource rich regions control the development their natural resource industries.
Sad as it may be for some members of the minority groups in these regions, one thing is sure–Xinjiang, Tibet and Yunnan are all going to remain integral pieces of China for a long time and be subject to increased inflows of ethnic Han Chinese seeking economic opportunities.
Let me clearly state, the opinions expressed in this analysis not reflect how I the author, (Bennett A. Reiss) feel on a personal level. Allow me to try to put things into perspective with two analogies which I feel help explain the Chinese point of view.
Canada is full of resources from top to bottom. I am by no means an expert, but I highly doubt the Eskimo and Native American populations have much say about development of Canadian mining and energy companies in their ancestral territories.
Likewise, a more mainstream analogy might be the US in Iraq. To the “logic” driven Chinese bureaucrat, China is far more justified in their domestic policy towards these resource rich regions than the United States is in Iraq. On the surface the US is subjugating a foreign population in a country half way across the globe from its own territory. China in its own official opinion is not subjecting anyone, and to further add to the Chinese argument, these regions have been a part of China for centuries if not thousands of years.
Even if your feelings on the war in Iraq produce other rationalizations for the US invasion (outside of oil), try to justify this to a country with over 1.4 billion people to feed and improve the lives of.
I welcome debate in this area to any readers who would like to discuss this topic further.