China investigates Qinghai’s richest man, officials for illegal mining in Yellow River source area

The mining site where the Qinghai Xingqing Industry & Trade Engineering Group Corporation has been suspected of illegally mining, in Muli mining area in Tianjun County, northwest China's Qinghai Province. (Photo courtesy: Xinhua/Li Zhanyi)

(, Aug15’20) – Illegal mining in collusion with corrupt locally posted party and government leaders in Chinese ruled Tibet continue for many years, even for more than ten years, until Beijing finally happens to take notice and order an investigation, a fact most recently illustrated by the ongoing crackdown on coal mining in an area of what is now Qinghai Province of the People’s Republic of China. There have been a plethora of reports about Tibetans in various parts of Chinese ruled Tibet protesting against illegal mining in their local areas, including by trying to taking their cases to Beijing, only to end up being arrested, persecuted, and thrown into jail if not killed during crackdown.

In the current, rare instance of its kind, a Qinghai mining company, led by the province’s “invisible richest man” was being accused of illegally earning billions from mining millions of tons of coal that had damaged water resources along the Yellow River, reported China’s party mouthpiece Aug 10.

The report said two departmental-level officials had been fired and were being investigated for illegal mining in the Muli (Tibetan: Mili) mining area in Qilian Mountain area of Liangshan Prefecture, Qinghai Province. The companies involved were suspected of violating laws and regulations, the report said, citing preliminary findings released at a press conference on Aug 9 afternoon and reported by State broadcaster CCTV.

The report cited Economic Information Daily as reporting Aug 4 that Qinghai Xingqing Industry and Trade Engineering Group Company had carried out predatory mining in the hinterland at the foot of Qilian Mountain and earned tens of billions of yuan. Its coal mines severely damaged the Qinghai Lake and the Qilian Mountain water conservation area, which are upper sources of the Yellow River, the report noted.

The company is accused of illegally mining more than 26 million tons of coal from the Muli mining area for the past 14 years, making profits of more than 10 billion yuan. Its chairman, Ma Shaowei, has been dubbed “the invisible richest man” in Qinghai, the report noted.

Wang Zhengsheng, deputy governor of Qinghai Provincial Government and director of Qinghai Public Security Department, were reported to have announced at a press conference that Xingqing Company was suspected of illegal mining and damaging the environment. The report that added the public security organ had taken compulsory measures against Ma Shaowei and others.

The report cited Teng Jiacai, secretary of the Commission for Discipline Inspection of Qinghai Province, as saying at the press conference that Liang Yanguo, member of the Standing Committee of the Haixi Mongolian and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai Province, and Li Yongping, member of the Party Group of the Haixi Mongolian and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, had been removed from their posts and were being investigated, citing a decision of the Provincial Party Committee.

Teng has said serious punishment will follow if during investigation it is found that there was collusion between officials and businesses that enabled the alleged illegal mining by Xingqing Company.

The report said the public security organ will release details of the case in due course and accept the supervision of the media.


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