Thursday, September 11, 2008

BBC Article: Why Mongolia wants more neighbours

What I like about BBC, apart from their high standards and informative articles, is that they also put a map of the region mentioned in the article. Truth be told, there aren't a whole lot of people who can point Mongolia out on a map. Or maybe that's because I am in Singapore, where world geography is not a very important subject in schools.

An article on BBC website more or less sums up the dilemma of being stuck between Russia and China neatly.
So could Mongolia's "third neighbour" policy put it on a collision course with former masters?
No, says Dr Kerry Brown of UK think-tank Chatham House. Mongolia may want to expand its ties but it knows where to stop.
"The Mongolians are being realistic with their diplomacy and building good, positive links throughout the world," he said.
"Former masters"? Isn't that a slavery language? I take back the whole BBC high standard thing. The question is, what percentage of our "positive link-building" is proactive and what percentage reactive? At times, I feel as though the Mongolian government is having to fend off the foreign dignitaries and new best-friends, who seem to be flocking to the youngest democracy in Asia this year. Canada is reportedly opening up its embassy in Mongolia soon. Perhaps Australia next, seeing as the foreign minister visited Mongolia this summer. And then we will see long queues for visas from 5am every morning outside the Canadian and Australian embassies in UB. I digress. Far as third neighbours go, BBC article author approves of our "realistic diplomatic expectations", which is summarized as "Mongolians are on their own when the shit hits the fan".
Today, Mongolia knows it must maintain close bonds with its giant neighbours, both of which are vital to the land-locked nation.
China is Mongolia's largest trading partner, followed by Russia. Russia supplies almost all of Mongolia's oil, China controls its access to ports. Both are major investors and both have their eyes firmly fixed on Mongolia's mineral wealth.
But the young democracy - mindful of past subordination to Moscow and China's voracious appetite for natural resources - also sees diversifying its international ties as the best guarantee of its political and economic independence.
So it has been seeking to build new relationships, both with the West and with other Asian nations, in a variety of different arenas. Mongolia calls it a "third neighbour" policy.
Read the full article on BBC website