Mongolia – From Sino-Russian Buffer to Conversion Zone

Memo #318

By Mendee Jargalsaikhan – mendee [at] alumni.ubc.ca

J_MendeeLast autumn, Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin made separate visits to Mongolia, met for a tri-lateral (Russia-China-Mongolia) summit in the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe during the leadership summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and dispatched their vice-foreign ministers for a working-level meeting in preparation for next year’s summit in Ufa, Russia… Continue reading

By Pipe and Rail: Russia in Search of Shorter Routes to Asian Markets

Memo #301

Putin Prioritizes Geo-Economics over Geo-Politics

By Mendee Jargalsaikhan – mendee [at] alumni.ubc.ca

J_MendeeRussia’s largest state-owned oil giants, Transneft and Rosneft, as well as Russian railroad authorities are again eyeing Mongolian routes as the shortest, most efficient, and safest way to Asian markets. Russia’s previous transport options to these markets—through the Russian Far East (RFE), North… Continue reading

Visas, Medicine, Education: Feeling Chinese Soft Power in Mongolia

Pacific Prospective features the research of graduate students.

Memo #256

By Jargalsaikhan Mendee – mendee [at] alumni.ubc.ca

China has been gradually increasing its soft power in neighbouring Mongolia, from offers of visa-free travel to access to its medical facilities, and most recently, growing educational opportunities in China for Mongolians. These policies have gone far in diminishing… Continue reading

Keeping Neighbours Closer: Beijing’s Geopolitical Pitch

Pacific Prospective features the research of graduate students.

Memo #249

By Jargalsaikhan Mendee – mendee [at] alumni.ubc.ca

Lately, Chinese leaders have been busy bolstering relations with their immediate neighbours.  As evidence, the Prime Ministers of India, Mongolia, and Russia arrived in Beijing for bilateral meetings with China’s President Xin Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang on the… Continue reading

Tertiary Education in Mongolia: Tackling Mongolia’s Labor Deficit Problem

The Mongolian economy is booming and continues to enjoy an extremely high GDP growth rate. Economic opportunities for citizens in urban and rural settings abound. Mining is a major portion of the economy, with the massive Oyu Tolgoi mining project accounting for a third of Mongolia’s GDP. While World Bank development projects focus on infrastructure development, economic governance and institutional strengthening of the mining sector, the demand for a sufficiently educated Mongolian workforce remains unmet. Continue reading

Cultural Objects and Tradition in Post-Socialist Mongolia

Since the end of Mongolia’s socialist period (1921-1990) the country has been experiencing a “cultural revival”. Post-socialist nationalism permeates private and public life, and deeply colours the way “traditional” culture is imagined. Once religious prohibitions were lifted in the early 1990s, newly constructed Buddhist temples and their monastic populations emerged as sources of authority. Lams (monks) performed rituals to protect Mongolians and the Mongolian state from the uncertainties of the new democratic and capitalist era as much as provide spiritual benefits. Continue reading

The Politics of Mining in Mongolia and Burma/Myanmar

Protests against mining projects reveal contrasts in the political impact of resource extraction in Mongolia, an established 23 year-old democracy, and Burma/Myanmar, a liberalizing authoritarian state. Two similarities are apparent in the domestic tensions surrounding Mongolia’s Oyu Tolgoi and Burma’s Letpadaung copper mines: both governments and populations are keen to balance Chinese influence in their economies; and both struggle to balance development goals with local grievances. Yet, the differing role of the countries’ politicians means that the protests have different outcomes. Continue reading

State Formation and Contemporary Mongolia (Video with Dr. Robert Bedeski)

States are a paradox. On the one hand, with a monopoly on the use of force, they provide security, but on the other the formation of the state is often accompanied by violence.

The example of Mongolia is an interesting demonstration of this. Genghis Khan’s unforgiving destruction of enemies shows state formation to be brutal, but this was accompanies by the development of the rule of law and a written language, through which the nation developed. Continue reading

Mongolia: Gauging Inner Asian Tensions over Railways

Broad gauge or standard gauge railway? This domestic Mongolian debate reflects Inner Asian ambivalence toward economic opportunities through engagement with China, as well as broader geopolitical and economic competition between Russia and China. After he was fired from the post of Director of the Mongolian Railway on January 10, former Prime Minister M. Enkhsaikhan criticized the government’s plan to extend the domestic broad (Russian) gauge railroad network. Instead, he argued for a 267 km standard (Chinese) gauge railroad from Tavan Tolgoi, a coal mining deposit, to Gashuun Sukhait, a Sino-Mongolian border post. With this argument Mr. Enkhsaikhan triggered another round of the debate over narrow vs. broad gauge. Continue reading

Change in Democratic Mongolia (Video Interview with Dr. Julian Dierkes)

Memo #181 – In this interview, Dr. Julian Dierkes introduces the edited volume “Change in Democratic Mongolia: Social Relations, Health, Mobile Pastoralism, and Mining.” By tracing rapid change in Mongolia in four broad fields of contemporary social relations, the chapters in this volume will elucidate the state of contemporary Mongolia and help us understand Mongolia ten or 20 years from now. Continue reading