Asia-Pacific

China says foreigners stir Inner Mongolia unrest

Handout photo taken on May 26, 2011 and released on May 31, 2011 by Southern Mongolian Human Rights shows Mongolian herders and students protesting in Huveet Shar Banner
Image caption Hundreds of ethnic Mongolians took part in protests

China's Foreign Ministry has claimed that foreigners are stirring up trouble in the province of Inner Mongolia.

Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said attempts cause trouble would not succeed, but she did not specify which foreigners she was talking about.

Last week, hundreds protested after two ethnic Mongolians were killed - allegedly by Han Chinese assailants.

Protest groups say the deaths have highlighted wider concerns about the economic development of the region.

Many ethnic Mongolians say their traditional nomadic way of life is being overridden, particularly by mining projects.

'Ulterior motives'

The Chinese authorities have tightened security across the region, and there have been no reports of demonstrations this week.

The government has largely removed references to the protests from the internet.

Ms Jiang told a regular news conference that the authorities would try to tackle the grievances of the people in Inner Mongolia.

"As for the reasonable claims by the people, the local authorities will respond positively to them," she said.

But she added that people overseas were trying to use the incident to cause trouble.

"As for those overseas trying to play up this incident for ulterior motives, we feel that it would be impossible for them to succeed," she said.

The unrest erupted last week after two ethnic Mongolians were killed in separate incidents.

A farmer was run over and killed on 10 May while trying to protect his land.

Five days later, another ethnic Mongolian was killed during a protest at a mine.

Less than 20% of Inner Mongolia's estimated 25 million residents are ethnic Mongolians. About 80% are Han Chinese.

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