Chinese security forces have embarked on a crackdown in Inner Mongolia with “stability” drills and a civilian disarmament campaign, reported a rights group recently.
As tensions between Mongolians and Chinese resource developers increase, regime forces have begun asserting their influence more aggressively in the region, ostensibly to prevent incidents and ensure stability.
The recent anti-terrorism drill “2013 – Mission Stability” in the south of Inner Mongolia’s Tongliao Municipality follows a roundup of 52 people in connection with online posts earlier in the month, according to human rights organization Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC).
Resource-rich Inner Mongolia’s traditional herder population has been pressured by a growing Chinese presence, whose resource development in the past few years has been accompanied by environmental destruction and land expropriation.
Ethnic tensions in the region have likewise grown and violent standoffs between ethnic minority herders and Chinese mining companies have become more common.
The anti-terrorism drills and a disarmament push in Tongliao, home to about 1.5 million Mongolians, brought a show of force with more than 1,700 public security personnel, armed police, and over 30 specially equipped vehicles and police cars, reported the SMHRIC.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials emphasized the importance of “maintaining stability” and urged the Tongliao Municipality to “develop anti-terrorism crack troops.” Chinese propaganda called Inner Mongolia the “defense line of the northern frontier’s stability and ecosystem,” SMHRIC said.
In order to promote a “Peaceful and Stable Inner Mongolia,” the Public Security Bureau conducted a 10-day long weapons confiscation action to disarm civilians across the region, before the Chinese National Day, which fell on Oct. 1. Public security forces confiscated guns, ammunition, and knives, and “cracked down on 82 groups and struck hard at 3,644 criminals,” according to SMHRIC, quoting the Public Security Bureau website.
In early September a police roundup of Internet users resulted in the detention of 52 citizens who “created and spread rumors via the Internet” on more than 1,200 occasions, said state media. Most of them are being charged with spreading rumors, under the new stricter Chinese Internet regulations.
Radio Free Asia reports that the official language used suggests the authorities are increasingly worried that local conflicts between Chinese developers and ethnic Mongolians could reach a wider audience.
Six Mongolian herders who were taken into custody in May will be sentenced soon, with expected heavy terms of up to seven years for trumped up charges, SMHRIC has reported. The organization said that the men were accused of “sabotaging production and management” and “intentionally destroying public or private properties” after a clashing with Chinese employees of a state-run forestry company that illegally occupied their grazing land.
The herders have argued that officials greatly inflated the damages, and that the latter were concerned that “the disclosure of bribes and graft in connection with land expropriation” would be revealed.