Brief History of Mongolia

by Enkhbat

Mongolia today

Mongolia today

Mongolia appeared in the world history through Gengis Khan and through his grandson Kublai Khan who created the Yuan Dynasty, which existed from the current Mongolia and China. After a more than a century of power, the Yuan Dynasty (1279~1368) was replaced by the Ming Dynasty

of the Han population in 1386.

The Mongol fled to the north passing the Gobi desert and got its’form which didn’t change since the 13th century. In 1616 Mongolia became a subject state of the Qing Dynasty.
The Qing Dynasty took all the fertile land and the Mongolians were pushed back to the devastated steppes where they were even more fixed to live a nomadic life.

With the fall of Qing Dynasty, Outer Mongolia declared independence in 1911. Because the Republic of China insisted
that Outer Mongolia is originally a part of China, Outer Mongolia asked for assistance to Russia.

But because of the October Revolution in Russia could not use all their force and China attacked them, Outer Mongolia had to cancel their declaration of independence. At the same time the counterrevolution forces in Russia invaded too and established a government of which Dalai Lama
of the Tibetan Buddhists is the head.

Outer Mongolians who wanted to get their country back fought the Chinese with help of Russia, and conquered the capital back in 1921. On July 11, an army official gave them acceptance of political power, which day currently is the Mongolian Independence Day (Naadam).

In November 1924, Mongolia declared their independence as a people’s republic and became the second Socialist Republic in the world. During the Second World War Mongolia won the battle
with Japan by cooperating with Russia. In 1961 it registered into the United Nations, and in 1964 the borders between Inner and Outer Mongolia were determined.

The period from 1930 to 1984 can be divided into two periods. The first period from the second half of 1930 to 1952, Khorloogiin Choibalsan had power. He instituted collectivization of livestock, but also instituted the destruction of Buddhist monasteries and the Mongolia’s enemies of the people persecution, resulting in the murder of thousands of monks and other people.

During his reign he formed a centralized authoritarian rule for Mongolia, but it also caused the fall of the
Lama Buddhism. In the second period Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal took power. Tsedenbal took power in 1952, established the framework of the centralized authoritarian rule and in 1974 he became the prime minister. In 1961 Mongolia was registered into the United Nations and in 1965 it started
building diplomatic relations with communist countries and soon after that it had diplomatic relations with non-communist countries like Great Britain, France and Canada.

When in 1969 the relationship between Russia and China became more intense, the Sovjet army stationed in
Mongolia which led to a deeper relationship with the USSR throughout the 1970s. In August of 1984 Tsedenbal was forced to retire and the same year in December Jambyn
Batmöngke came to power. Batmöngke instigated a reign based on perestroika and tried to reach political transparency by reorganization of government departments and reshuffling of high-ranking officials.

By the late 1980s relations with China gradually thawed and in 1989 full diplomatic relations with China were established, though many Mongolians still fear Chinese designs on their country. The unraveling of the Sovjet Union resulted in decolonization by default. In Mach of
1990, in sub-zero temperatures, large pro-democracy protests erupted in the square in front of the parliament building in Ulaan Baatar and hunger strikes were held. It was only a few months after the Tianenmen Square massacre in Beijing, and many in the MPRP (Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party) wanted to deal with the protests with tanks and troops. Batmöngke however would not sign the order and a young man by the name of Zorig exposed the plan to the Mongolian press.

Things then happened quickly: Batmöngke lost power; new political parties with a bewildering variety of names sprang up; and hunger strikes and protests continued. In March the Politburo resigned, and in May the constitution was amended to permit multiparty elections in July 1990.

Ironically, the communists won the elections, taking 85% of the seats in the Great Khural and 62% of the seats in the Little Khural. Although Ulaan Baatar residents gave much support to the opposition parties, rural areas voted overwhelmingly for the communists. The MPRP, now calling
itself ‘ex-communist’, announced it would share power with several young democrats – some were even given minestries.

Freedom of speech, religion and assembly were all granted. The era of totalitarianism had ended and Mongolia dropped the name People’s Republic. The Mongolian constitution was revised again and elections were held in June 1992. The
MPRP again came out on top, winning 57% of the popular vote and an astounding 71 parliamentary seats out of 76. The ‘ex-communists’ ran on a platform promising ill-defined reforms
and blaming the country’s economic problems on the democratic opposition.

The government was soon under pressure from big lenders, including Japand and the World Bank, to privatize
ownership of the big state enterprises. Four years later, on 30 June 1996, the Mongolian Democratic Coalition trounced the ruling MPRP, unexpectedly ending 75 years of unbroken communist rule. M Enksaikhan, the 41-year-old
leader of the Coalition, was named prime minister.

The inexperienced Democrats did not have an easy time of government. Between 1996 and 2000 the country had five prime ministers, three of whom resigned. Corruption reared its ugly head several times. The pluf was pulled on the Mon-Macau Casino, one month before its planned opening in the basement of the Chinggis Hote, and three democratic members of parliament were jailed in 1999 for accepting bribes in return for the casino tender.

By the turn of the millennium, Mongolia had achieved one of the world’s most free economies and had made the peaceful transition from a Sovjet satellite to a flourishing democracy – the only former communist state in Asia to do so.
Yet while living standards have risen in Ulaan Baatar, the majority of Mongolians have experienced a sharp decline in living standards, education and health care since independence.

In a recent poll, 50% of Mongolians said that their life was much the same since independence, only 10% said it was better and over a third said it was significantly worse. In the July 2000 general election the democrats paid the price for political squabbling and economic hardships. The ex-communist MPRP won 72 out of 76 seats and their leader N Enkhbayar was sworn in as prime minister. But there is no going ack to communism for Mongolia. In the words of one MPRP minister, ‘you can’t mend a broken egg’. In 2004 both of the parties had an equal share of seats. But because of internal problems in the Democratic alliance, it fell apart in January of 2005.

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