Hotan Jade Business Off-limits to Officials

Hotan Xinjiang is a home for high quality white mutton fat jade. The river, Rurungkash or white jade, is the headwater of Hotan jade industry. The banks of the Yurungkax River produce the world’s finest jade “Hotan jade” and are renowned for their pure white nephrite variety of the stone.

The Hotan white jade used to make imperial seals in ancient times, carved into ornaments in the shape of Buddha’s and mythical wild animals to protect the wearer from misfortune. The “mutton fat white jade” was used as a centerpiece for the 2008 Beijing Olympic medals. An antique white jade seal sold for over US$12 million at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2010 for a piece the size of a regular carved chop.

Xinjiang produces some 250-300 tons of Hotan jade annually, 20 percent of which is pure white nephrite. A kg of the jade is usually priced over 100,000 yuan. But the prices have kept surging in recent years due to a steep decline in output.
Lured by get-rich-quick tales, jade hunters from all over the country swarm around the river during summer before it freezes over in autumn. And the rampant excavation is taking its toll on the environment.

Officials in a northwest China’s desert oasis region have been banned from abusing their power to profit from the “jade rush”, in which excessive mining has almost exhausted reserves of the precious stone. The government has installed cameras and deployed inspectors at key road sections to keep tabs on heavy machinery in the area. Cash incentives ranging from 5,000 ($793) to 10,000 yuan are promised to informants in the crackdown, according to the circular. The government of Hotan prefecture, has issued a circular that threatens officials with penalties including Party expulsion if caught profiting from the jade business. Under particular scrutiny will be their roles in excavation, protecting illegal jade diggers, investing in jade businesses, and bribery, local officials said on Monday.

Source: China Daily

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