The leader of a Mongolian trade union set himself on fire during a national press conference in protest of a proposed deal with China which could have a dire effect upon Mongolia’s mining industry.

Prior to the incident, the man said to reporters: “The government no longer supports our company, families of the workers are forced to starve, this is why I will burn myself for the people of Mongolia and our children,” the Daily Mail reported.

Moments before the incident. Photo: Youtube.

He proceeded to set himself on fire with a lighter, and was seen being consumed by the flames and collapsing onto the ground as onlookers screamed.

Three people standing near the man attempted to put out the fire with their jackets, and another eventually succeeding in doing so with an extinguisher. The man is said to have sustained severe burn injuries on over 40% of his body and remains in a critical condition. He was sent to the National Trauma and Orthopedic Research Center of Mongolia, the New York Post reported.

The man, whose name remains unknown, called the press conference to bring attention to the plight of Mongolian miners. He reportedly works for Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, a state-owned mining company that holds the license to a giant coal mine deposit near the Chinese border, according to mining.com.

After the incident. Photo: Youtube.

It was said that, if the deal worked out, many Chinese workers would be brought into the country and Mongolian employees would lose their jobs.

According to Hong Kong Economic Times, Mongolia sells much of its coal to China and and there are concerns that the country’s resources will be depleted if it continued to export to China at a falling price.

”Click for Video. Warning: disturbing footage enclosed.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WM4wTzkKXdY

Mongolia and China have been in talks over a US$4 billion deal on the development of Mongolia’s Tavan Tolgoi coal mine. However, in September, Reuters reported that the deal was unlikely to happen given China’s slowing growth. Plans for a Chinese company to take over Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi were also blocked by Mongolia’s parliament speaker earlier this year, meaning that it would be left to lawmakers to dictate the future of the deal.

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Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.