Longtime readers of WiC will be familiar with some fairly extraordinary Chinese scams, but we’re not sure we’ve ever come across a stranger one than this. It involves a coal mine in Inner Mongolia. It was failing, so its local government came up with a new plan to profit, reports both Xinhua and ThePaper.cn. They poured diesel over tyres, ignited them and used the flames to set the coal below on fire. Officials were sent to take photos of the conflagration, which were then passed on to the Inner Mongolia coal bureau as an example of a mine “spontaneously combusting”. When the fire looked to be burning out, more diesel was poured, and more photographs were sent. Eventually, the bureaucrats were persuaded to allocate Rmb380 million ($57.08 million) of funds to prevent further fires and put the current one out. The local government then opened a tender to private sector firms, saying that any coal the company recovered would recompense the work required. A Wenzhou-based firm won the project, but soon discovered that little coal was available. Furious, it blew the whistle on the scam, alerting the media.
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