Lingering anti-Sinic sentiments in post-Communist Mongolia: Why dislike the Chinese?

Just sharing a long-waited working paper on anti-Chinese sentiments in Mongolia.  The following is the abstract, for the full paper – here is the link.

Sino-Mongolian relations have been amicable ever since the Sino-Soviet and Sino-Mongolian rapprochements of the late 1980s, after over three decades of hostility. Today Mongolia and the People’s Republic of China have broadened relations in all areas of cooperation, returning to a state of relations similar to the 1950s. However, in Mongolia, anti-Chinese discourses continue to appear in daily conversations, the news media, in Internet comments, literature, hip-hop, and even graffiti. This paper advances four reasons for such lingering anti-Chinese sentiment. First, like any small state, Mongolia remains vulnerable to the dominance of its two large neighbours. Memories of colonization are still vivid. Second, Mongolians, like many other ethnic groups, are concerned with the population’s “purity of blood.” Third, the communist regime’s use of anti-Chinese sentiment during the Sino-Soviet conflicts of the 1960s-70s has had a lingering impact on the views and attitudes of Mongolians toward China, Chinese people, and Chinese culture. The anti-Chinese myths and narratives that were institutionalized have not been critically analyzed. Finally, various external and internal actors use anti-Chinese sentiment to forward their business interests.

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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4 Responses to Lingering anti-Sinic sentiments in post-Communist Mongolia: Why dislike the Chinese?

  1. Tom says:

    It is all to facile to condemn Mongolians for their antichinese attitudes. Interestingly nobody chatises Danes for their anti German attitudes or Czechs for the same. In relation to them everybody understands that you need to limit the possiblites of Germans to acquire Danish or Czech property. Furthermore there is always the war that you can refer to. In contrast Western researchers like to paint Mongolians as essentially irrationally Antichinese or else victims of past Soviet indoctrination. In reality Mongolian antichinese bias is not at all hard to understand and quite easy to justify. The history of Inner Mongolia is a case in point. One just needs to read Owen Lattimore and how the Chinese acted towrds Mongolians in lands that had historically always been Mongolian. Or just look at the policies enacted in Innrer Mongolia today. Or the way Inner Mongolian dissidents have been harrassed and arrested right in the center of UB at the intigation of China. Or the way China constantly interferes whenever there is talk of the highest religious authority (the Dalai Lama) visiting. Finally it seems to be a secret to no one but the authors of this article that there´s already informal censorship regarding China in all of Mongolian masss media. A fact that certainly only heightens the all to justified fears of ordinary Mongolians. If one further considers the all pervasive corruption in Mongolia and the fact that Mongolians political elites are ever ready to sell their country to the highest bidder one has to congratulate average Mongolians for their principled stance. I for one believe Mongolian culture and Mongolian traditions well worth preserving. Were it not for the grass roots resistance of ordinary Mongolians (which Western commentators smugly denounce as “racist”) UB might already be a majority Chinese city. Just as Lhasa or Hohot.

  2. Nurlan says:

    Tom, right you are! The text is full of orientalism cliches (within Said’s meaning). Though it’s not surprising to see views like these at the blog

  3. George says:

    Kudos to Tom. You are bang on button. Sad that the article is coming from a Mongolian student.

  4. Iveelt says:

    PS. Mendee is not a student, but a researcher… IMO, Self preservation is a driving force behind most fears. Now, there certainly is an element of discrimination due to natural differences. Omitting all the mentioned factors… It is notable that culturally, in China, Mongolians are also discrimanted against, perhaps justifiably so as well. To an extent of thousands of years of wall building at the cost of generations of neighboring populations. The elephant in the room are terrible things Mongols did to those popluations throughout years. So now, when larger more populous, multicultural, and expansionist neighbor discrimnates against a smaller, troublesome, and unweilding neighbor, there is bound to be some terrible cultural fractures in the latter… perhaps justifiably so.

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