Mongolia would benefit from less nationalism, more trade with neighbors

By Wu Chuke Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/12 10:58:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Given US President Donald Trump as a precedent, the election of Khaltmaa Battulga as Mongolia's new president is not a surprise. Both of them are successful businessmen and self-proclaimed patriots. They won the presidential elections under the slogan of reviving the country. Both have foreign wives.

Battulga, 54, is the president of the Mongolia Judo Association (MJA). Under his MJA stewardship, Mongolia won its first Olympic judo medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. This undoubtedly has earned him additional popularity among Mongolians, who favor a stalwart figure.

Battulga has a varied background as a politician, artist, sportsman, businessman and patriot. His election demonstrates Mongolian people's eagerness to improve the country's national image and their high expectations on the new president to lead the country out of economic recession.

However, what Battulga campaigned on cannot represent his governance abilities, and the future development of Mongolia cannot hinge on political correctness.

Although the new president promised a tougher stance against China during the election campaign, the history of Mongolia's development over the past three decades has proved that only by developing a friendly relationship with neighbors can the nation's stability and people' s welfare be guaranteed.

The geopolitical position of Mongolia determines it must develop sound cooperation with China and Russia. The Mongolian government once put forward the Third Neighbor Policy with the purpose of breaking its dependence on China and Russia. But the policy failed to revive the country's national prestige.

Instead, Mongolia has been constantly used by "third neighbors" over the past decades, which has widened the gap between the rich and poor, deepened its economic dependence on others and caused a severe loss of talent. Mongolian politicians should think about how to conduct cooperation with neighbors in a wiser way, rather than dream of changing neighbors.

Nowadays, China has become one of the world's most powerful countries. It has enjoyed robust economic growth over the past decades. Many countries have benefited from China's rapid development, and China has engaged in pragmatic and equal cooperation for mutual benefits with other developing countries, including many African nations and most of its Asian neighbors. Mongolian politicians should know that Mongolia's economic dependence on China is a result of economics and market laws. 

China has long insisted that all countries, regardless of their size, are equal sovereign states and that independence and self-reliance are foundations for national dignity and strength. It sincerely hopes the new Mongolian president could lead the Mongolian people into prosperity through their own efforts.

Economic interdependence among countries has become an inevitable trend. Isolation from the outside world will only result in backwardness. The G20 summit, BRICS summit and Forum on China-Africa Cooperation are all platforms to seek mutual cooperation and development, and China has played an active role in the IMF, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

Mongolia has a geopolitical advantage. However, narrow-minded nationalism has hindered the country's development. To realize rapid development, Mongolia should show its sincerity about peaceful coexistence and advance friendly cooperation between the Chinese and Mongolian people. Only by this, can a development miracle be created.

The author is a professor at Minzu University of China.


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