Ulaan Baatar (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A Mongolian union leader opposed to the proposed sale of his country’s coal mining industry to China set himself on fire in protest, according to reports.
Disturbing video of the incident shows him then douse himself with a flammable liquid, and light his jacket on fire.
Two men use their jackets to try to extinguish the flames, as members of the press rush over to try to help, too.
The man was rushed to the National Trauma and Orthopedic Research Center of Mongolia, where he was in critical condition after suffering burns over 40 percent of his body.
The man’s company, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi — which has 39 coal mines in Mongolia — was forced to foot the bill for any medical expenses he incurs, according to AKI Press.
Mongolia is considering selling stakes in 10 state-owned companies, including part of the Tavan Tolgoi mine, to boost investor support for its economy. Union leaders fear their workers will get the boot if the sale goes through.
After decades of economic stagnation, in which animal husbandry and subsistence activities predominated, the country has decided to exploit its rich mineral resources: coal and rare earths have become valuable bargaining chips.
China already buys more than 90 percent of Mongolia's exports, mainly of coal and copper, and 49 percent of foreign companies registered in Mongolia are Chinese, Xinhua reported.
Hence, despite Xi's reassurances, Mongolians persistently worry about Chinese political hegemony and presence.