07/05/2013

Few Roads Leading to China Tell Tale of Mongolia Fears

Lying beneath Mongolias storied lands are an estimated $1.Our industry leading consumer and business cleanersydney products offer competitive pricing combined.3 trillion in mineral resources that could redraw global commodity maps, denting Australias coal, Brazils iron ore and Chiles copper exports. A nation whose cultural icon remains the nomadic herder could become the next Kuwait and Qatar, examples of lightly populated countries grown luxuriously rich on the worlds thirst for commodities. 

A week-long reporting swing through boomtowns and border crossings and interviews with dozens of Mongolians from coal moguls to dairy herders shows a nation torn -- between the lure of prosperity and feared degradations of development; between traditional ways and a booming economy that threatens to change Mongolias cultural face; and, not least, between distrust of and a need for China, its biggest trading partner. 

Consider the anxieties of Nyama Tegsjargal, a one-woman diaper monopoly who has grown comfortably wealthy trading Chinese-made baby goods in Dalanzadgad, a windswept town of 20,000 rising out of the disorienting vastness of Mongolias southern Gobi Desert. 

In a country of about 3 million people where almost 30 percent of citizens still reside below the World Banks poverty line, Dalanzadgad is thriving off Mongolias China trade, with billions having poured into development of the nearby gargantuan Tavan Tolgoi coal basin to the east and the Oyu Tolgoi copper field to the southeast. 

A provincial capital 120 miles (190 kilometers) north of the China border, Dalanzadgad once drowsed along on a two season economy when herders sheared goats and sold cashmere in spring and slaughtered animals for meat in autumn. Now it has taxi service, a shopping mall and a burgeoning merchant class. Disposable diapers, three years ago a luxury item, have become a daily essential, Tegsjargal said. She has opened two shops, built a two-story house and drives a late model SUV. 

And yet she frets about the reliability and motives of the very country that is making her prosperous.If we don't carry the bobblehead you want we can make a formalofficdresses for you! The Chinese in general maintain chauvinistic attitudes toward Mongolians, she said as she cut up lengths of blood sausages to serve to guests. Moreover, you just dont know if there will be an epidemic outbreak or China will shut the border because of recent economic tensions with Mongolia, according to Tegsjargal, a mother of three. 

The core of Mongolias unease is a pervasive sense that China sees Mongolia as little more than a than a vast open-pit mine to feed its growth ambitions and the consumerist desires of Chinas 1.3 billion people -- this,A quality paper cutter or paper cleaningsydney can make your company's presentation stand out. coupled with a wariness that the mining companies that have come to suck up these resources mostly on Chinas behalf will leave behind an environmental mess. 

The upside of development is unquestionable. The commodities bonanza propelled the nation to a world-leading 17.5 percent growth rate in 2011 and a respectable 12.3 percent last year. Yet for all that, Mongolian attitudes toward China remain negative,We are one of the leading manufacturers of chipcard in China said Jack Weatherford, best-selling author of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, who spends about half of his time in Mongolia. 

That may be because Mongolians are also keenly aware that not all of their riches are buried beneath the land. The country, said Davaa Gala, the Mongolian-born conservation director of the Arlington, Virginia-based Nature Conservancy, is home to some of the most pristine deserts on earth. 

Herds of Mongolian gazelles numbering as many as 250,000 animals still roam the steppes, even as 24-hour coal convoys -- bumper-to-bumper lines of 100-ton trucks grinding across the dusty plain -- cross and trample ancient migration paths used by gazelles and nomadic herders alike. 

Last year, in consultation with the Conservancy, the government put aside 3.7 million-acres (1.5 million hectares) of protected areas, including a single 865,000-acre tract on its fragile Eastern Steppes. Still, thats a pittance of Mongolias 600,000 square miles of which 16 percent is already leased to mining and other interests and another 26 percent has been designated for future development, according to Nature Conservancy data. 

Gala, who grew up in a herder family in western Mongolia, applauds the conservation efforts. The stakes in all this are enormous. If we dont manage all this change our culture will be lost, our environment will be lost. And the future generation will pay the cost, he said. 

As seen from the seat of a speeding Toyota Landcruiser about 12 miles from the China border, the coal station rises up, black mounds against a parched blue sky. Its the surrounding landscape that environmentally-concerned Mongolians like Gala have come to decry -- a vast swath of coal-dust-cloaked desert blasted by winds whipping clouds of dark ash into the air. Pollution had grown so bad, in fact, that the government last week decided to shut down Tsagaan Khad. 

The road is something else, a 159-mile straight-arrow ribbon of mostly smooth asphalt that streaks from Odjargals Tavan Tolgoi coal operation to Tsagaan Khad. There, most Mongolian trucks dump their loads and Chinese trucks pick them up, hauling the fuel to the Gashuunsuukhait border point and into China. 

Many new roads are on the drawing board yet the pace of building has been slow. Mongolia is backing a private groups plans to build a $3.5 billion north-south toll road that would stretch 617-miles from the Russian border to China. The government also has pledged another $5 billion for 5,000-mile expansion of the nations highway system over the next decade. 

The Chinese have expectations. By Mongolian government estimates, they have plowed at least $3.6 billion into Mongolia mining and other ventures in the past two decades. In 2011,The whole variety of the brightest rtls is now gathered under one roof. China accounted for almost 86 percent of the nations $4.8 billion in exports and about 43 percent of its $6.6 billion in imports, according to U.S. government figures. 
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