Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Man Bites Dog

A very bizzare editorial by a fellow named Tony Henderson about Asia's delicate relationship with China. Here's the bit about the Mongolia-China relationship:
As a small nation situated between two giant powers - China and Russia - confronting one another, Mongolia’s Government saw no other choice but to come under the protective umbrella of one of them. For Mongolians, historical experience caused them to choose the Soviet umbrella. Consequently the relationship between Mongolia and China did not recover until the end of the Sino-Soviet confrontation when Beijing and Ulaanbaatar each recognised their shared strategic interests, and re-engaged. While Russia continues to have a political and economic influence in Mongolia, it is now the PRC which is emerging as the main political and economic partner.

Mongolians had viewed China as a hostile country before the late 1980s, but now generally regard China as a major power able to generate regional and world economic development.

As Jiang Zeming has said, there are no unsettled political, legal or historical problems between the two countries. Yet, deep-rooted distrust of China caused by historical experience still persists among Mongolians and the Mongolian media is frequently suspicious of China’s ambitions, particularly fearing Chinese expansion....

A mishandling of [trade] issues may provoke an upsurge in Mongolian nationalism that would damage Sino-Mongolian relations. Mongolians and Chinese each have different historical viewpoints and while Mongolians see themselves as one of Asia's oldest ethnically pure groups, as do the Han Chinese, the Chinese regard Mongolia as a former part of its Middle Kingdom and view Mongolians as an ethnic minority. This is a deep-rooted contrary view that could have explosive effects in the future relations of Ulaanbaatar and Beijing.

At present, Mongolian nationalist movements may be found in Mongolia, the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, and Russia's regions of Buryatskaya and Kalmykia. Based on their common traditional culture, Mongolian nationalism began quickening during 1989 when Mongolia was making a political turnaround. In 1990, after the Mongolian Democratic Party publicly stated its: "Uniting the Three Mongolias" stance (Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Mongolian Buryatskaya), the party also advocated "providing a unified spoken and written language and a nationality which could naturally be linked together". There was also support for a union between Inner Mongolia, Mongolian Buryatskaya, Mongolian Xinjiang, and other regions which would in turn unite Mongolians under one "Great Mongolia". China is taking note of those moves.

I'm inclined to let the irony speak for itself. Mongolia's fear of Chinese expansionism is long-standing and deeply rooted in recent experience and modern political reality (Macao, Tibet, Hong Kong, and Taiwan all may have something to say on the topic.) Oddly, that's only given a quick mention in this article. The real threat in the region, we are informed in this article, is Mongolia's desire to enfold part of China into "Great Mongolia."

Please forgive me if I state the obvious. If anyone's guilty of expansionist dreams and the power to turn them into reality, it's, well, definitely not Mongolia (well, at least not for the past 700 years or so). I've never--not even once--heard Mongolians talk about a vision of a greater Mongolia that stretches from Russia to Northern China. Even if Mongolia were to harbor secret designs on China, does anyone doubt that that any move toward Mongolian reunification would be quickly, unceremoniously, and definitively smashed to smitherines by China?

Can any balanced observer even begin to commence to start to think that Mongolia is threatening China rather than vice versa? Who writes this stuff?

(For the answer to that last question, click here.)


Anonymous yan said...

One person who did actually raise the question of Mongolian reunification was Mao Zedong (at least if you can believe the quotes in http://wwics.si.edu/topics/pubs/ACF4CA.pdf , p.23/24

You can sometimes hear pan-mongol sentiments from Inner Mongolians, an extreme example are the guys on www.innermongolia.org . Halh often seem to view Inner Mongolians as Chinese rather than as Mongols, though.

6/23/2005 6:23 AM  
Anonymous yan said...

One more: In the run-up to the soviet offensive of August 1945 against Japan and its allies (namely Manchuguo and Mengjiang), in which Mongolian troops took part, pan-mongolian propaganda clearly played a role. IIRC, there was a speech by Choibalsan where he urged all Mongolian tribes (including those of Inner Mongolia, like Ordos, Tumed or Chahar) to rise up and expel the foreign invaders.

6/23/2005 6:34 AM  
Blogger nabetz said...

Yan, thanks again for your insights. You always add to the conversation.

I wonder, how do you know so much about Mongolia? You're knowledge seems equally broad and specific, so I'm guessing you're a scholar of some sort. I'd love to talk more. If you have the inclination, e-mail me at nabetz at gmail dot com.

6/23/2005 8:26 AM  
Anonymous yan said...

That's flattering, thanks :). I'm just an amateur, studying something completely unrelated. The interest into Mongolia is rather private, so don't take my posts too serious...

sent the mail.

6/24/2005 4:44 AM  
Blogger Jaruul said...

Hm... very interesting. Nationalist views in Mongolia are common in fears of Chinese invasion. To your point Yan, there are around 3 ml. Mongolians leave in Inner Mongolia rest are Chinese. For sure Chinese people will outnumber. It is indeed interesting that my Chinese Friend’s mom strongly believes that Mongolia should be part of China. It was really difficult to carry on two hour conversation and be polite at same time. Mongolia does think “we are own group, we do believe that Great Wall of China is the original border between China and Mongolia”. But Mongolia is not a treat to China. We are an independent country.

6/28/2005 4:57 PM  
Blogger samraat said...


4/04/2010 10:23 PM  

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