Weather in UB

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Mongolia and Tibet

I was reading the UB Post today and there is an opinion piece written by R. Dulmaa. This opinion column echoed some of the same things that I had been talking with my friends here about. For your information, Mongolia officially supports the "One China" policy. It's just a little food for thought...
A Friend in Need Is a Friend Indeed- R. Dulmaa
Thursday, April 03, 2008.
Being the “spiritual brothers and sisters” of Tibetan people and sharing history of faith in Tibetan Buddhism, one cannot but notice how unusually quiet has Mongolia been in response to the recent overwhelming wave of pro-Tibetan protests around world.Theoretically, it is not hard for Mongolians to resonate with anger and frustrations of Tibetans having ourselves tasted the bitterness of political oppression on religious rights during Communism. Moreover, the “cultural genocide” that Dalai Lama sees taking place in Tibet has in a lesser form once appeared in Mongolia as well, when Russian military, schools, shops were ubiquitous. In this period, Buddhist temples were emptied, monks prisoned or killed and the general message was “Buddhism is bad for you.”The recent years nevertheless saw some form of religious revival from the Mongolian side. The Dalai Lama, on the other side, has expressed much faith in the future of Buddhism in Mongolia. In fact, he said that Buddhist teachings can truly flourish in a democratic country—Mongolia being referred. His faith in Mongolians is supported by his numerous visits to Mongolia in the last few years. Even in his public talks in America, he calls out for Mongolians in the audience.

During his Mongolia visits, thousands flock to receive a blessing from him and equally many rush to monasteries on special occasions such as the Tsagaan Sar celebrations. Mongolia’s political figures are also seen there flaunting their best deels, showing off khadags and offerings.
And yet even when non-Buddhist heads from Europe and America are admonishing China, where have all the devoted Mongolians gone? Where are the outspoken parliament members? Where are temple heads? Where is the media? Ironically, even the Chinese community in Mongolia has issued a statement supporting the Tibet crackdown.
As the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend in need.
The Dalai Lama perhaps has put too early and too much hope on Mongolia’s political maturity. R.Dulmaa is a graduate student at the Center for Buddhist Studies, University of California at Berkeley.


Christian said...

Yep, turns out the apathy of the masses and the state's security concerns outweigh everything I was afraid of before.

When the Mongolian Foreign Minister shakes hands with her Chinese counterpart in Beijing and tells him to his face that her country supports the measures taken in Tibet, well, all I can say is realpolitik rules in Ulaanbaatar. Honestly though, who can blame them? If the PRC decided even for an instant that Mongolia was somehow supporting Tibetan unrest, UB would rapidly become a very unpleasant place to live.

I would say this has much less to do with political maturity than Dulmaa thinks. Even the most mature polities in the world still make totally bizzare foreign policy decisions (see US vs. Iraq, round 2) based on what they see as their own national interest. Is it any surprise then that a "young" polity might not react as expected? Governments are still made of people, and people do weird things.

Also, if I remember right, only half of Mongolia responds to polls about religion with the self-identification of "Buddhist." Most of the rest still say atheist or at least "no religion." Maybe that's changed in the last few years, but the governing party today is very much the ex-communists.

I would say that not a single politician has said anything publicly on the grounds that maybe they're just afraid of sharing the Tibetans' and Inner Mongols' fate. As for the lamas though... I'm at a total loss. Maybe they're just unaware?

Natso said...

I myself, being Mongolian, have been surprised to find very little information about Tibet riot in the media .

There may be heavy informal discussion among Mongolians empathizing Tibetans, but I don't have the chance to join them, as I'm studying abroad.

I've noticed some Mongolians' comment patronizing Tibet. I mean Chinese people calling Dalai Lama a terrorist really pissed me off, too.

But probably the politicians know the risk of disapproving China's policy since, to our dismay, Mongolia's quite dependant on China in trade import/export.

Natso said...


on 31st March, there has been a protest against Chinese policy in front of CHinese embassy in UB.

I have found it out from news


Andrew Campbell said...

Bagsh: nice post. Sorry I missed it till now. I was hoping that there might be a little more spirited resistance than the graffiti in the Children's Park -- but it seems, as Christian points out, the realpolitik of both physical proximity and the desire to stimulate an economy (and claim a more prominent place on the world stage that way) mean that China (and India) are being green-lighted as likely sources of development despite the ideological or environmental hazards involved in that.


Anonymous said...

it's really incredulous how china is so able to influence and manage the views held by its citizens on the topic. and, many seem to have no idea that the information fed to them is not an accurate portrail of the events. -Mergen