Mongolian elites need to change zero-sum game mentality: experts

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/26 23:53:39

China needs to reduce Sinophobia and reinforce bilateral ties with Mongolia by improving economic cooperation, as Mongolian presidential candidates hype the "China threat" theory, experts said. 

Miyegombyn Enkhbold of the ruling Mongolian People's Party and Battulga Khaltmaa of the opposition Democratic Party are considered the main contenders of the 2017 presidential election.

Voters will choose between an investment-friendly candidate (Miyegombyn) and a populist "resource nationalist" rival (Battulga) in an election that is a referendum on both economic policy and China's role, Reuters reported.

The report added that Mongolians are ambivalent about China's growing influence, and those feelings loom large in Monday's election.

A Diplomat magazine report said the Mongolian presidential election has "sinophobic elements," and "some engage in xenophobic competition over determining each other's 'blood purity' vis-à-vis Chinese ethnicity."

"During the presidential election, hyping the 'China threat' theory is not new in Mongolia at all," Da Zhigang, director of the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Northeast Asian Studies, told the Global Times on Monday.

Mongolia is a landlocked country bordered by China and Russia. "Russia's political and security influence in the country is quite powerful due to the former Soviet Union's legacy. But economically, Russia's influence and presence in the country is much weaker than China's," Da said.

Chinese commerce ministry data for 2016 shows that China's share of Mongolia's foreign trade was about 60 percent, and 82.26 percent of Mongolia's exports go to China. The main mining resources that China imports from Mongolia are coal, copper and iron.

The massive economic presence will surely cause some negative images for China, so hyping Sinophobia is very normal for the politicians to attract votes," Da said. But due to geographic limitations, the country cannot change its biggest trade partner, he added.

Even it is seeking a "third neighbor" from outside, such as the US and Japan, the ties with them are mainly political, diplomatic and security, and its economic reliability on China will not be changed, so the country's elites need to change their zero-sum game mentality and face reality, Da added.

In addition, Mongolia was a part of China (before it gained independence in 1921), and most Mongolian people are living in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, said Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations.

Mongolia has 1,978,298 eligible voters for the presidential election which mainly involves candidates from three leading parties. 

The candidates have offered different measures to ease the government's mounting debt, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Newspaper headline: Hyping ‘China threat’ theory nothing new

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