Asia in Review Archive

Mongolia

Date of AiR edition

News summary

13 October 2020

Japan-Mongolia: Joining efforts to promote Free and Open Indo-Pacific

(dql) Japanese and Mongolian Foreign Ministers – Toshimitsu Motegi and Nyamtseren Enkhtaivan – last week agreed to cooperate in promoting a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” during the former’s visit to Ulaanbaatar last week. They also agreed on stepping up security, medical and economic cooperation, and signed a 235 million USD emergency loan to help the pandemic-hit Mongolian economy and fund medical equipment. [Yahoo News] [Kyodo News]

Motegi’s visit came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a trip to Mongolia because of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 infection. According to Shannon Tiezzi in [The Diplomat] the cancellation of the visit defrauded the USA from an opportunity to profit from an anti-China sentiment currently running high in Mongolia over the sidelining of Mongolian-language education in China’s Inner Mongolia region.  

6 October 2020

Mongolia: Anti-Chinese protests 

(dql) Ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Mongolia, Mongolian protesters took to streets in Ulaanbaatar to demand the release of ethnic Mongolians arrested in China for criticizing a controversial language policy which was introduced in neighboring Inner Mongolia last month and which reduces Mongolian as instructing language in schools. 

Protests, which erupted in Inner Mongolia over this policy, were swiftly suppressed by the Chinese authorities. [The Nation, Pakistan] [AiR No. 35, September/2020, 1] [AiR No. 36, September/2020, 2]

6 October 2020

Mongolia: Access to Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement

(dql) Mongolia last week acceded to the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), the country’s first regional trade agreement with developing countries. Joining the APTA, Mongolia will benefit from reduced tariff barriers as well as from enhanced market access to Bangladesh, China, India, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka, the other six member of APTA

APTA, signed as Bangkok Agreement in 1975 and renamed in 2005, is currently negotiating expanding tariff preferences in trade in goods and further liberalization in investment, services trade, and trade facilitation. [Scoop]

In an earlier move, Mongolia and Turkey during consultations late September agreed to boost efforts to deepen economic cooperation in the fields of agriculture, tourism, culture, humanitarian aid, and energy. [Aki Press]

22 September 2020

Mongolia-Russia relations: Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to be deepened

(dql) Mongolian and Russian Foreign Ministers Nyamtseren Enkhtaivan and Sergey Lavrov met Monday in Moscow to discuss issues on bilateral ties, international and regional cooperation. Both sides agreed to further expand and develop their countries’ Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. [Aki Press]

22 September 2020

China and Mongolia agree on deepening ties and Health Silk Road

(dql/ef) Just weeks after China replaced Mongolian language books in Inner Mongolian schools, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Mongolian President Battulga Khaltmaa, Prime Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa and Foreign Minister Enkhtaivan Nyamtseren. The protests that ensued after the curriculum change in Inner Mongolian schools drew vast attention in Mongolia and led to protests in front of the Government Palace on the first day of Wang’s visit. However, official meeting summaries did not indicate that the topic of Inner Mongolia came up. Rather, it is stated that Wang visited Mongolia in order to strengthen cooperation in the fight against Covid-19, to extend cooperation on economic and social development, and to ensure long-term healthy and stable development of China-Mongolia ties. [The Diplomat (€)]

Meanwhile, Wang also announced last week that China and Mongolia along with Russia, Kazakstan, and Kyrgyzstan have agreed to jointly build a Health Silk Road, adding that China will provide the participating countries with support in the purchase of anti-pandemic supplies, expertise training, experience sharing and cooperation in drug development, and accelerate the building of communication mechanisms with concerned parties on pandemic information. [The Star]

15 September 2020

China: Protests against reducing Mongolian as teaching language in Inner Mongolia quashed

(ef) The school strikes in the past weeks that were aimed against reducing Mongolian as teaching language in favor of Mandarin in schools in Inner Mongolia [AiR No. 36, September/2020, 2] have been successfully quashed by Chinese authorities, with parents sending their children back to school without further public complaints and the new textbooks being used. [Financial Times] [Manila Standard]

8 September 2020

China: Beijing’s hardline response to protest against reducing Mongolian as teaching language in Inner Mongolia

(dql/ef) In response to what a Mongolian human rights organization called a “a massive, nonviolent, civil disobedience resistance movement” of ethnic Mongolians against a new regulation of the Chinese government to reduce Mongolian as language of instruction in schools in Inner Mongolia, the Chinese police has conducted a search operation for protesters, in an attempt to  “firmly crack down on illegal activities related to the new regulation,” according to a notice of an Inner Mongolian public security office. Furthermore, government officials and Communist party members are threatened with expulsion from the party if they do not send their children back to school, while Mongolians will become automatically ineligible for social benefits for the same offense. [Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center] [Wall Street Journal] [The Diplomat ($)]

The central government, meanwhile, insisted that the protest was caused by misinformation about the new regulation, adding that the use of the Mongolian language, textbooks and the bilingual education system will not change while the new regulation reflects efforts to strengthen the “common language of a country [as] a symbol of its sovereignty, and it is every citizen’s right and responsibility to learn and use it.” Echoing this, China’s Public Security Minister, who was present in Inner Mongolia at the time of the protest, called on the security authorities to “fight against separatism, firmly implement anti-terrorist measures, and promote stability and harmony in the ethnic and religious fields.” [Global Times]

Critics of this move view it as part of an assimilationist education policy within the frame of a nation-wide drive to promote ‘ethnic unity’, with some having even termed this development a ‘cultural genocide’ against the Mongolian minority in China. [Human Rights Watch] [BBC

1 September 2020

China: Beijing tightens grip on Tibet and Inner Mongolia

(dql) Indicating fresh efforts of the central government to tighten its grip on Tibet, President Xi Jinping, speaking at a work meeting of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee last week, stressed the need for a new strategy to govern Tibet and deepen the promotion of coordinated economic, political, cultural, social and ecological advancement there. To this purpose, he called for the establishment of a “impregnable fortress” to maintain stability in Tibet and protect national unity, underpinned by political and ideological education in Tibet’s schools which “plants the seeds of loving China in the depths of the hearts of the young people,” adding that “Tibet’s traditional Buddhism needed to be sinicized.” [Xinhua, in Chinese]

For the geostrategic importance of Tibet for China (and for India) see [AiR No. 33, August/2020, 3].

Meanwhile, in a rare move ethnic Mongolians in northern China have staged rallies to protest against new rules to reduce teaching in the Mongolian language in favor of Chinese in three subjects – including  politics, history, and language and literature – before completely switching to Chinese. [BBC]

The measure deepens fears that Beijing is gearing up its efforts to assimilate the Mongolian minority in China, mirroring developments in Xinjiang and Tibet.

In a related development, Bainu, the only Mongolian-language social media site in China, was shut down last week by Chinese authorities. [Vice]

25 August 2020

Mongolia: China censors and threatens Mongolian language policy critics

(ef) After plans for the elimination of teaching in the Mongolian native languages were leaked, widespread protests in the Southern Mongolian society have ensued. As a consequence, the only social media application in Mongolian-language available in China was shut down by Chinese authorities as it was used to discuss this so-called “bilingual education” policy which entails the elimination of teaching in Mongolian language starting on September 1. Some have suggested that a school strike should be carried out to boycott this new policy. Others have called this policy part of “the trend of Chinese cultural genocide against Southern Mongolians”. [UNPO] [Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center] [Radio Free Asia]

11 August 2020

China-Mongolia relations: Ulaanbaatar reassures Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang are Chinese domestic affairs

(dql) At the Fifth China-Mongolia Strategic Dialogue Between Foreign Ministries held last week, both sides agreed to deepen cooperation in a number of areas including political and diplomatic affairs, economy and trade as well as cultural and people-to-people exchange. The Mongolian Deputy Foreign Minister reassured that “Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xizang [sic] affairs are purely China’s internal affairs.” [Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China]

28 July 2020

Mongolia: Ex-prime minister sentenced to five years in prison

(dql) Mongolia’s former Prime Minister Sanjaagiin Bayar (2007-2009) was sentenced to five years in jail for power abuse in the context of signing a fuel and lubricants supply agreement favoring a friend’s a company and allowing it to illegally gain a profit of 147 million USD. [Aki Press]

30 June 2020

Mongolia: Mongolian People’s Party retains majority in parliament

(ef) In last week’s parliamentary election, held under special Covid-19 related health and safety measures, the ruling Mongolian People’s Party, although loosing three seats compared with the election in 2016, retained its majority securing 62 out of 76 seats. Voters turnout was high at more than 73 percent of the electorate. [AKI Press]

For more details on the composition of the new parliament see Julian Dierkes at [East Asia Forum] who sees the outcome of the election as a “sign that Mongolian democracy is starting to heal from the corruption-induced frustrations of the 2010s.”

 

 

23 June 2020

Mongolia: Ruling party set to win parliamentary election

(dql) In Mongolia’s eighth parliamentary election since the country adopted a constitutional system in 1992 after sixty years of rule of the Soviet Union, a total of 606 candidates, representing 13 political parties and 4 coalitions as well as 121 independents, will compete this Wednesday for 76 seats in parliament. 

The ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) led by Prime Minister Khurelsukh, which won 65 seats in the past election 2016, is believed to win the election again due to its success in combating the coronavirus pandemic. [East Asia Forum] [Nikkei Asian Review]

 

26 May 2020

Mongolia: A new type of candidates in upcoming parliamentary election

(dql) In less than four weeks, Mongolia will hold parliamentary election in which 670 candidates will race for 76 seats. Bulgan Batdorj and Julian Dierkes at [The Diplomat] provide insights into the diversity of the candidates and argue that while new candidates might not win in the election they might contribute to “nudg[ing] political discourse in the direction of concrete policy debates that have been lacking in previous elections” because they establish a new kind of relationship with the parties and the people. 

 

 

28 April 2020

Mongolia: Parliament ratifies social protection deal with the Czech Republic

(ef) In a move to eradicate flaws in pension calculation for Mongolian citizen residing in the Czech Republic, the Mongolian parliament has ratified an intergovernmental agreement between Mongolia and the central European country. Under the agreement Mongolian expats to receive their pension in the Czech Republic or have their years of service abroad included in the calculation of their benefits in Mongolia. [AKI Press]

 

 

28 April 2020

Mongolia: Asian Development Bank approves loan for renewable energy

(ef) As Mongolia is set to install its first large-scale advanced battery energy storage system, the country received a 100 million USD loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to complete that project. Being among the most heavily coal-dependent developing member countries of the Asian Development Bank, Mongolia seeks to increase the share of renewable energy in total installed capacity from about 12% in 2018 to 30% by 2030. [AKI Press]

 

4 February 2020

Mongolia: Amendment to Rome Statue of International Criminal Court ratified

(dql) Mongolia’s parliament last week passed a bill ratifying the 2010 Amendment to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adding the definition of the crime of aggression and the conditions for the exercise of jurisdiction over this crime. [Aki Press]

Mongolia signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 2000 and ratified it in 2002.  

7 January 2020

Mongolia: Parliament approves law to write off loans of pensioners

(dql) Mongolia’s parliament approved a law to write off loans of pensioners. The move follows President Khaltmaa Battulga’s a decision at the end of the last year to pay off the loans of pensioners to help them get out of debt. Under the law, loans of up to almost 2,200 USD of each pensioner will be written off. [AKI Press]

26 November 2019

Mongolia: Head of Constitutional Court dismissed over sexual harassment case 

(dql) Mongolia’s Constitutional Court last week dismissed its chairman Odbayar Dorj from his office for sexually harassing a Korean flight attendant on his flight to South Korea weeks ago. Dorj, however, remains one of the nine members of the court. [Channel News Asia]

The case sheds light on the fact that there is no legislation to punish sexual harassment and to protect the victims in Mongolia.

19 November 2019

Mongolia: Constitution amended to strengthen Prime Minister against President

(dql) Mongolia has amended its constitution for the second time since it was ratified in 1992, strengthening the powers of the prime minister in a bid to end years of costly political instability and economic stagnation. In Mongolia’s hybrid political system, power has been shared by an elected president and the government, which is appointed by parliament and headed by a prime minister. The president, who usually comes from the political party in opposition, is able to veto legislation and propose his own. Experts say the changes, approved by parliament on Thursday, will tip the balance of power in favour of the prime minister, giving the office full authority to appoint and dismiss the cabinet and weakening the role of the presidency. Future presidents, though still elected directly by the people, will be limited to one six-year term, compared to two four-year terms previously, starting from 2025. [Reuters]

12 November 2019

Mongolia: Hundreds of Chinese citizens detained in crackdown on cybercrime

(dql) Mongolian local authorities announced that 800 Chinese citizens have been arrested on various charges including illegal gambling, fraud, computer hacking, identity theft and money laundering. [Reuters]

22 October 2019

Mongolia put of FATF “graylist”

(dql) The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) last week put Mongolia on its “graylist” of monitored jurisdictions, acknowledging the country’s development of an action plan with the FATF to address the most serious deficiencies

 

1 October 2019

Mongolia’s parliament set to debate country’s first whistleblower protection law

(dql) Transparency International (TI) has welcome Mongolia starting to debate in the parliament a draft law on whistleblower protection, submitted in 2016, as part of a reform of the country’s anti-corruption law. At the same time TI has warned against attempts of the parliament to shrink space for political rights in Mongolia. [Transparency International]

 

Date of AiR edition

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9 July 2019

Mongolia: Concerns over dismissal of judges

(dql) Transparency International expressed extreme concerns over the dismissal of 17 judges two weeks ago by the Judiciary Council and National Security Council. The judges, accused of corruption, were dismissed on the basis of amendments to the laws governing the judiciary and anti-corruption agency adopted in an emergency session of the parliament in March, at a time when two-thirds of Mongolia’s 76 lawmakers were investigated over allegations of embezzlement of public funds. [Transparency International] [AiR 1/4/2019]

 

4 June 2019

Mongolia: Protesters demand government to step down

(dql) Thousands of government-critical protesters took to the streets of Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, last week and demanded the resignation of the leadership over corruption allegations and failure to revive the country’s struggling economy.

Mongolia was plunged into an economic crisis in 2016 over disputes with foreign investors like mining giant Rio Tinto, government overspending and slipping commodity prices from which the country has not recovered yet. Government pledges of large spending on infrastructure, social services and housing based on foreign investment have remained unmaterialised. [Reuters]

 

4 December 2018

Mongolia: Government survives no-confidence vote

(dql) Last week a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh and his cabinet government was launched in parliament but narrowly failed to oust the government after 40 out of the attending 73 lawmakers in the 76-seat parliament voted against the motion and 33 for the motion. [Xinhua 1]

The motion was submitted by 27 lawmakers of the ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), which holds 65 seats, over a scandal pertaining to financial irregularities which involves members of parliament and government suspected of receiving a number of loans with low interest rates from a fund that serves small and medium-sized enterprises. [The Guardian] [AiR 3/11/2018]

In a latest development, three lawmakers of the Mongolia’s opposition Democratic Party (9 seats) were expelled or banned for four years to compete in elections for cross-voting in the motion. [Xinhua 2]

20 November 2018

Mongolia: Government under pressure over loan scandal

(dql) Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh is facing pressure over allegations that cabinet members received low-interest loans for business controlled by them or their family members. More than a dozen parliament members and police officials are believed to be also implicated in this scandal. According to the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry over 3,500 member companies vowed to withhold tax payments until the scandal is resolved. [Nikkei Asian Review]

In a latest development of the scandal, legislator Damdin Khayankhyarvaa from the ruling People’s Party submitted a proposal to dismiss the government over the scandal. The proposal was signed by 27 of the 76 members of parliament in which the People’s Party holds 65 seats. [Xinhua]

13 November 2018

Mongolia: High-profile corruption case under investigation

(dql) Mongolia’s anti-corruption authority is investigating a high-profile corruption case involving government ministers, members of parliament, the general prosecutor, the general auditor, and the former head of the intelligence authority who – according to leaked reports – channeled more than 1 million USD of a 25 million USD government fund to their families and friends. The fund was set up 18 years ago to offer government loans at 3 per cent interest to owners of small and medium-sized enterprises, compared to banks and finance companies charging between 12 and 30 per cent. Pressured by these reports, Food, Agriculture and Light Industry Minister Batjargal Batzorig, who oversaw the SME fund, resigned. [South China Morning Post]

15 April 2018

Mongolia: Former PM’s arrested over corruption case

(dql) In the context of an investigation into a copper mine joint venture in 2009 and 2015, Mongolia’s anti-corruption agency arrested two former Prime Ministers on suspicion of misuse of power:  Bayar Sanj, Prime Minister at the time of the signing of the original investment deal in 2009, and Saikhanbileg Chimed, Prime Minister at the time the agreement on the expansion of the mine was sealed in 2015. [Reuters]

Prior to the high-level arrests, a former finance minister had alraedy been detained. [AiR 2/4/2018]

8 April 2018

Mongolia: Arrests in high-profile graft probe

(dql) Mongolia’s Independent Authority Against Corruption announced this week the arrest of former Finance Minister Bayartsogt Sangajav in the frame of an investigation into alleged abuse of power in the context of investment talks for the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, Mongolia’s giant mining joint venture between Turquoise Hill Resources, a majority owned subsidiary of Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto, and the Mongolian Government with the former holding 66% ownership and the latter 34%.

The arrest of Bayartsogt comes amid an ongoing criminal investigation of the Swiss Office of the Attorney General into a seized bank account which according to court documents had been used to transfer 10 million USD to Bayartsogt in September 2008 who on behalf of Mongolia signed an agreement with Canadian Ivanhoe Mines in 2009 to develop the giant mine. [Reuters]

In a related investigation into a 2015 financing deal for the mine’s underground expansion between Turquoise Hill, Rio Tinto and the government of Mongolia former Mongolian Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed, in office for two years until 2016, has been asked to return from the US to justify himself to the prosecutors while the former chief executive of the state-owned entity holding Mongolia’s stake in Oyu Tolgoi, who signed the deal, and the former director general of the General Department of Taxation were arrested. [Financial Times]

17 November 2017

Bleak outlook for the Mongolia’s future

In office since October, Prime Minister U Khurelsukh is lacking a consistent agenda and strategy to fight corruption and to enhance the civil service and judiciary, the root causes for Mongolia’s current political crisis reflected by three governments within two years. Caught up with factionalism within his ruling Mongolian People’s Party, he will fail to lead the country out of this crisis, Julian Dierkes and Mendee Jargalsaikhan predict in this article [East Asia Forum].

6 October 2017

New Mongolian Prime Minister

Following the impeachment of Jargaltulgiin Erdenebat and his cabinet on grounds of corruption weeks ago, Deputy Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh has been elected as new Prime Minister by the ruling Mongolia People’s Party [The Straits Times].

18 August 2017

For Mongolia’s new president is Mongolia first and China last

Mongolia’s new President Khaltmaa Battulga won the presidential election with a nationalistic, anti-China campaign. Since more than a month in office, a core issue and challenge of his administration will be to balance the relation-ships of Mongolia with Russia and China [East Asia Forum].