Economy, Security and Democracy – China, Russia, and US

A few days back, Stephen Noerper wrote a commentary – capturing a historic little known visit by the Vice President Biden.

But, I like to rewind it a few months back.  A number of visits by Mongolian officials to its neighbors and third neighbors reciprocated in a very short period.  This was not a case before.  Reciprocation for high-level visits to India, China, US, South Korea, and now Finland as well as Germany is happening just in one year.  Maybe Mongolian diplomats are working so hard, or there is some special interest – attracting Mongolian friends in shorter period.  Mongolian tabloids are linking all these high-level visits with the country’s natural resources, investment in infrastructure, and even not-so-clear nuclear waste repository talks.  These puzzles probably need to be re-visited – What attracts series of high-level visits?  All wants to visit Mongolia while it is a summer there, maybe, – In fact, three high-level persons from US, China, and South Korea landed in the Chinggis Khaan airport in a same day.

In June, 2011, we also observed another interesting dynamics of Mongolian foreign policy.   Mongolia secured over 10 agreements with China and declared strategic partnership.  Almost at the same time, Mongolian President assured that Mongolians miss Russians in his speech in Moscow while Russia was still hardheaded in settling fates of joint ventures in Mongolia in order strike a deal in Mongolian mining exploitation.  In contrast, Mongolian President visited the US military hospital in Washington to express his sympathy for the US military personnel. This was surprised and touched Biden and many other Americans.  Mongolians bought Boeing and requested support for Mongolia’s lead on democratization.  A quick observation is a small nation could play diplomacy with big powers, but it is difficult, and costly, which we start seen from last summer as Mongolia starts receiving bids  from them in the largest choking coal deposit.  Another look, China offers money, Russia tries to make a deal using its old legacy, and US admired Mongolian democracy.  Mongolia looks China for economic support, Russia for security, and US for democracy. Is it representing changes in major powers’ capability and interests.  They all want to be major powers, reality is changing dramatically. Will these three converge or diverge?

About mendee

Jargalsaikhan Mendee is a Deputy Director of the Institute for Defense Studies of Mongolia. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, and MAs in International Relations from the US Naval Postgraduate School and in Asia-Pacific Policy Studies from the Institute of Asian Research of the University of British Columbia.
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