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What do you know about Mongolia?

Or, you might reasonably ask, what do *I* know about Mongolia?

Not much, but, as Sherlock Holmes said more than once, the important thing is to know where you can find out about Mongolia. (Actually, he probably never mentioned Mongolia, but you get the point.) I happened to talk to a couple of people this week who had been or were going there, which led me to wonder about it, and then to wonder just how much one would find in the definitive reference work on modern Asia. (Yes, a Berkshire production: the six-volume, 2.2-million-word Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, published with Scribners in 2002.)

It’s quite impressive:
● Mongol Empire
● Mongolia—Economic System
● Mongolia—Education System
● Mongolia—History
● Mongolia—Human Rights
● Mongolia—Political System
● Mongolia—Profile
● Mongolia-China-Russia Relations
● Mongolian Languages
● Mongolian Social Democratic Party
● Mongolia–Soviet Union Relations
● Mongols

Here’s a little from two of the articles, to give you a sense of the tone and approach. First, from “Mongolia–Political System” by Gombosurengiin Ganzorig:

The most important achievement for Mongolia in last ten years has been that, despite some internal controversies between the government branches, it has been able to institute and develop a democratic form of government with the essential attributes of checks and balances. Each branch acts independently, but overlapping powers enable each to contribute to the nation’s successful transition from a centralized economy to a free market economy and from one-party dictatorship system to a multiparty system and democracy. Even though different political parties have gained majorities in the legislature, over the years the government has retained its leadership and strong commitment to democracy and human rights in Mongolia.

And here’s an extract from “Mongolia-China-Russia Relations,” by Eric Hyer, who’s contributed more recently to Guanxi: The China Letter:

On 16 December 1962, China announced that MPR leader Tsedenbal (19161991) would travel to Beijing to sign an agreement to settle the boundary. After demarcating the boundary, a treaty was signed in Ulaanbaatar on 2 July 1964. This boundary agreement closed a long chapter in Sino-Mongolian relations. Despite the boundary treaty, China and Mongolia remain extremely sensitive about their historical relationship. The triangular Mongolian-Russian-Chinese relationship is entering a new period of flux and possible instability. Democratic Mongolia could emerge as the focal point for a reinvigorated pan-Mongolian nationalism that would surely alarm Russia and China. Russia also needs Mongolia as a buffer state to shield it from an awakening Chinese dragon that is becoming an economic and military power. And apparently the legacy of the Chinese empire lingers in the minds of Chinese. In 1992 China’s State Security Ministry revived the specter of Chinese irredentism when it issued a statement saying that: “As of now, the Mongolian region comprises three parts that belong to three countries”the Russian regions of Tuva and Buryatia, Mongolia, and the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Regionbut “the Mongolian region has from ancient times been Chinese territory.”

3 thoughts on “What do you know about Mongolia?

  1. In fact, Mongolia was more our (I am a chinese) enemy than our compatriot in history.
    ” the Mongolian region has from ancient times been Chinese territory” – I think most of the time should meant Yuan and Qing Dynasty. However, It is Mongolian conquered Chinese (Han ethnos) when Yuan, and Manchu allying with Mongollian, they beated Monolian first, conquered Chinese when Qing Dynasty. So many Chinese were slaughtered when they rebelled for free.

    Off course, now Han, Manchu and inner Mongolian are all Chinese. we are not enemy for each other again.

    There are more than 5 millions of Mogolilan living in China, comparatively, only 2 millions of Mogolian are living in Mogolia.

  2. I don’t know about finding about more about Mongolia (but you could read my book “Mr Campbell’s journey to Mongolia”) – but you can also find out more about Sherlock Holmes in the Portsmouth City Library service in England who have just acquired the Conan Doyle archive for their collection. Conan Doyle was a child of that famous naval city

  3. I love old travel accounts so it seems strange that I haven’t read your book, Tim! It’d be fun to have here in Milwaukee, actually, where I am attending the World History Association conference. Fortunately, I have a new-to-me Trollope novel, Is He Popenjoy?

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