China Closes Brick Works Set Up to Support Tibetan Monastery

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Authorities in northwestern China’s Qinghai province have closed two facilities set up to provide income for a local Tibetan monastery, calling the move part of a drive to improve the local environment, Tibetan sources say.

The two facilities, one a brick works and the other a sand-sifting plant, had been operated by the Ragya monastery in Qinghai’s Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) prefecture for many years, a Tibetan living in South India told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“But recently, Chinese authorities arrived to shut them down,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing contacts in Golog.

“They claim that they are doing this so that they can plant trees and clean up the environment in the area, but they are creating a real nuisance and disturbance with this order,” he said.

“The sand plant and brick works that they closed were the main source of income for Ragya monastery,” he added.

Local authorities are meanwhile building bridges and highways nearby “in a tight-lipped scheme to mine natural resources in the area,” RFA’s source said, adding that excavations on nearby Machen mountain are continuing without a break.

“The Chinese mining on Machen mountain has not stopped, and the welfare of the Tibetan people is being completely ignored,” he said.

Mining operations in Tibetan regions have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms of disrupting sites of spiritual significance and polluting the environment as they extract local wealth.

In August 2015, security forces in Qinghai attacked and beat a group of elderly Tibetan villagers and women who were blocking construction of a dam, injuring an unknown number and later detaining several, sources said in earlier reports.

The group had sought since the beginning of the year to halt the work near Seching village in the Yadzi (Xunhua) Salar Autonomous County amid concerns it could be linked to mining operations in the area, an area resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.