Chinese authorities are handling ethnic demonstrations in Inner Mongolia according to the law and will respond to reasonable demands from protesters, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Tuesday.
Protests by ethnic Mongolians began on May 25 and were sparked by the death of a herdsman struck by a coal truck in China's biggest coal producing region.
Chinese authorities declared martial law and deployed riot police and paramilitary forces in major cities in the Inner Mongolia region in an attempt to quiet protests spreading across the region, the Tibet post said on Tuesday.
The same day Inner Mongolia's foreign affairs office official Wen Fei told CNN that there was no protest in downtown Hohhot. "Everything is normal and there is no martial law," the official said.
CNN cited activists as saying that Chinese authorities Monday arrested dozens of demonstrators in Hohhot.
"Several hundred people, mostly students and ordinary Hohhot residents, gathered at Xinhua Square around 11 a.m. Monday, chanting slogans and holding signs demanding legal rights for the Mongolian people," Enghebatu Togochog, director of the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center told CNN. "Paramilitary troops dispersed the crowd after an hour and dozens were arrested."
Though Inner Mongolia is rich in coal, its infrastructure is extremely poor and leaves many safety and environmental concerns untouched.
"The local government will strive to handle the relationship between environmental protection and economic development and will take all the necessary measures to safeguard the fundamental interests of people of all ethnic groups," Jiang was quoted by Xinhua official Chinese news agency on Monday.
BEIJING, May 31 (RIA Novosti)