By Tsenddo

April 21, 2010

The First war against West.

Rumors about foreign investors, who are destroying Mongolian economy, are nothing new. There is even a history of one of our mighty neighbors conducting such an operation before they established total political and economic control over our country.

In the beginning of the 20th century Mongolian proclaimed their newly regained independence and announced that the Chingis khaan’s steppes woke up from their slumber. The world became interested in Mongolian, who were quietly sleeping under the Manchu Chin rule for several centuries. In general, that was an interesting period, when the world was set to motion and the kindling of two great wars that will change several times the political map of our planet started smoking. Christian priests headed by Larson, who later received a title of an earl from Bogdo khan, came to Mongolia, Danish farmers such as Haslund and others moved to Huvsgul to start a modern livestock breeding, trade firms from many countries operated in Mongolia, the Mongolor company with a foreign investment mined gold and the famous Roy Andrews’ expedition astonished the world with dinosaur eggs found in the Gobi. Along with state flags of the Great White Tsar of Russia and the Chinese Republic, flags of many countries such as the USA, Sweden, Denmark could be seen in the capital of our country.

Since half of Mongolian herd the livestock and the other half were monks in monasteries, there were no fellow citizen to provide the nation with necessary goods. Nobody forbid Mongolian to engage in such kind of work, but Mongolian themselves were not much interested in business. Trade and commerce were regarded as an inferior job, and Mongolian said disdainfully that “a trader is one finger movement short of becoming a thief” and that “a spirited thief is better than a soulless merchant”. The “spirited thieves”, who stole livestock, were respected as noble robbers, the real men. That is why only foreign traders provided Mongolian with the three imported goods they needed, namely, tea, tobacco and textiles. The traders also bought from Mongolian wool, fur, hides, that were plentiful, so a mutually beneficial business was flourishing.

Of 103019 puu ( 1 puu-16.3kg ) of camel wool, 78300 puu of cashmere, 979512 puu of sheep wool transported from Mongolia in direction of Tianjin in 1912, 122123 puu of camel wool, 43231 puu of cashmere, 1 036629 puu of sheep wool imported in 1913, the majority of camel wool was shipped to England and all of sheep wool went to the USA.

The Russian bought not only wool and cashmere , but also livestock. For instance, in 1913 - 98.000, in 1914 - 67.700,  in 1915 - 80.000 cattle was exported to Russian Empire. Such “non- Russian” expressions as machine “manual” or   speed to a hundred “miles” that became a part of  Mongolian language stayed as witnesses of the fact that technology was first introduced into steppe from a different direction.

In that way Mongolia forged relations with the rest of the world, and became a part of the changing world. In present terms it was, to a certain degree, globalization and from a day to day Mongolia was shaping into a typical independent state of that time with developing foreign relations.

 However, the Soviets, who set up their total control upon the Mongolian government by the mid-twenties, started a war against foreign capital in Mongolia. That was the beginning of the first war against foreign investment. Let us see how the Soviet wrote about it in the history that they “made up” for Mongolian. In the revolutionary history it is said that”… in addition to oppression of the Mongolian people by the Western European and American capital, they forged ties with greedy Chinese subjects and together they stripped the country”. What a familiar slogan? How much it reminds me of slogans against present Oyu Tolgoi, Tavan Tolgoi, Boroo Gold?

A state and civil movement against foreign capital spread out. First they were forbidden to raise their state flags, then their accounts and transactions were closed down and finally the owners were expelled from the country. In 1928 the last foreign investor left the country. Only the Soviet economy now dominated in Mongolia, the same as in the saying “there is no other God than Allah”. Then private property of Mongolian themselves was confiscated under an excuse of “confiscating assets of feudal lords”. If the Larson’s property had been confiscated, it might have led to problems in Russian-Swedish or Russian-American relations and work on robbery of assets of Mongolian themselves might have been delayed. If herds of Danish farmers had been given to collective farms, problems might have risen between Russia and Scandinavian countries and it might have been difficult to seize herds of Mongolian herders. However, such problems were resolved by the way of conducting the “foreign investors, go away” campaign, with the hands of Mongolian. That was the beginning of a Red terror against the Mongolian economy and the Mongolian people. As a result, Mongolian lost all their private property, a strict limit was imposed on the small amount of property one could own and one in every five adult males was killed.

The Second war against West.

A decade before the end of the 20th century the socialist system collapsed on its own. Mongolian had an opportunity to gain back their economic and political independence. In my personal view, the main achievement of democracy in our country is that, first, the government of Mongolia does not have to ask a foreign country what to do and, second, Mongolian economy is not controlled by one country.

In two decades of democracy, many foreign investors came to our country, which is a part of a globalized world and is striving to reach the standards of a modern independent state. Besides, so many rich mineral resources were discovered in our country.

There is an ancient tradition in our country of inviting a skilled person to do the job that one is not experienced at. A household that didn’t have a man to slaughter a sheep, used to ask a neighbor to do the job, cooking him afterwards a breast-bone or giving him a sheep leg as a reward. Since in energy production field Mongolian had limited experience of collecting dung and ruthlessly cutting wood, the 20th century mining was established on the basis of the Soviet investment.

However, in modern mining we have to cooperate with modern companies and giving them “a breast-bone or a leg” is inevitable.

Unfortunately, in the last years a century-old doctrine condemning foreign investors exploiting and abusing Mongolia, has been revived and became widespread. In the end, they said that it was taught in the books, that the country’s economy can be used and abused in that way, stabbed and then left to waste. It was written in a book I read, they say. Well, there are different books. If these people discovered the Koran, they would probably say “it is written in the book that there are no Gods other than Allah”, destroy the Gandan temple and break the Megzedjanraiseg statue.

It is said that an open window lets fresh air, but flies can also get in through it. As no one wants to suffocate in order to stop the flies, one opens the window, but stands ready with a fly-swatter. Anybody can walk in through the open doors of Mongolia. One needs to be vigilant, and that’s what the state is working for.

As the main object of the war against foreign investors in Mongolia, its main direction is the Western, to be exact the American and Canadian investors, is it a sign of history repeating itself? A fact that the process of “hating the foreign capital” did not take place in our powerful neighboring countries seems to prove the point to me. I do not say that it is wrong, I just say that this omission seems suspicious.

The majority of foreign investment, registered according to the Law on foreign investment and accepted by the government is made up by Chinese companies. But how many companies with Chinese investment can you name?

Although there is a lot of general rhetoric about invasion of Chinese, a danger of assimilation, do you know of any civil movement against a company with a 100% Chinese investment or a joint company?

Do you at least know the names of Chinese companies that are using strategic deposits of iron ore, zinc or petrol in our country?

Have you ever heard about one person, let alone a movement, who protested against a Russian company called the Altan Dornod Mongolia, which dug out all the gold from the Zaamar mountain and then demanded 500 million US dollars from the state?

Have you considered the reason why the Mongolian economy is not grudged to Chinese or Russian investors, but is “protected” from Western investors?

Do you know the history when foreign investors in Mongolia were expelled from the country as “exploiters”, so that only one foreign country could possess our country?

Like it or not, but such questions are raised every time when I think about topics such as “the killer of economy” or the “foreign exploitation” that came into being replacing search for the assassin of  S. Zorig.