Resource Depletion in China and its Implications for Mongolia

Frontier and Historical Perspectives

in Inner Asia
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China’s natural resources are concentrated in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities which constitute over 60 per cent of China’s territory. When world attention is drawn to China’s rapid economic development and its global energy strategy, people tend to forget how natural resources in the minority regions were extracted to fuel China’s development prior to its high growth era. In other words, who or what regions sustained China’s economy by providing energy and resources after the 1950s? We may also ask what has happened to these minority regions in China’s new energy strategy. Since these regions are frontier regions, what does China’s energy globalisation look like there?

This paper studies the historical process of resource extraction in areas inhabited by the Mongols, focusing on the Daqing Oil Field and North China Oil Field. Through discussing how the depletion of oil in these traditional energy bases has led to China’s energy expansion into its northern neighbour of Mongolia, it aims to define the place and significance of Mongolia in China’s global energy strategy.

Resource Depletion in China and its Implications for Mongolia

Frontier and Historical Perspectives

in Inner Asia



BiligB. B. Bilige Manhua 2013 Huhehaote Nei Menggu Renmin Chubanshe [B. Bilig’s Manga Drawings]

BorjiginB. Survey Reports on Open Mongolian Land 2014 Tokyo Kingendai Shiryo Kankoukai (compiler) part two of Compendium of Pre-1945 Japanese Language Survey Materials on Mongolian Social Relations.

ClarkeP.N. Petroleum Prospectivity of the Mongolian People’s Republic. Report 3: Eastern Mongolia 1991 London BP Petroleum Development Ltd Exploration & International (Report of the 1990 bp/mgt Field Survey).

Mongolian Investor’s Forum 2002 Current Status and Prospects of Oil Resources in Mongolia. Unpublished Report

National Bureau of Statistics China Energy Statistical Yearbook 2004 2004 Beijing China Statistics Press

ShiFu Wai Menggu Duli Neimu 1993 Beijing Renmin Zhongguo Chubanshe [The Inside Story of Outer Mongolia’s Independence].


Cf. Shi Fu’s notorious book (1993). More recently with China becoming the second largest economy some Chinese netizens have become more assertive to redress China’s alleged historical woes. In the wake of the Russian takeover of Crimea they appear to think that the time has come for China to take similar actions with regard to Mongolia.


At the beginning of the 1980sin addition to the rare-earth industry the other big foreign-currency earner was cashmere. Propelled by the soaring demand from both domestic and international markets many Inner Mongolian herders and peasants began to raise goats and caused massive desertification. Undoubtedly the rare-earth and cashmere industries have inescapable responsibility for causing environmental deterioration in Inner Mongolia.


Between 1969 and 1979Jirim League Jo’uda League and Hulunbuir League in the eastern part of Inner Mongolia were given to Jilin Province Liaoning Province and Heilongjiang Province respectively. During this period the Central Government of China initiated many natural resource extraction projects in these leagues including the Yimin Coalmine and Huolin River Coalmine.


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    Major oilfields in northeast China and Inner Mongolia and their relations with Mongolian land.
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    Index diagram of China’s main domestic energy production and consumption.
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    The transformation of the territory of the eastern Inner Mongolian leagues and banners in modernity.
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    Distribution of oil deposits in Mongolia.
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    Signpost inside Dornod Province of Mongolia.
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    The model picture of ‘(Chinese) Oil Refinery in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’.
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    ‘Nöhügsen ni’ [Bu], a popular manga appeared on the internet during the protest movement of May 2011. It was originally drawn by B. Bilig and was selected in the Okhotsk international cartoon competition/Japan 1997.


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