Monday, September 1, 2008

Myth Confirmed

When it comes to Mongolian-Chinese relations, it often seems there is more myth than fact at work. Mongolians are notoriously suspicious of all things Chinese, from foreign policy intentions to packages of instant ramen. And, from what I can gather, the Chinese are notoriously dismissive of all things Mongolian, forever holding on to the belief that nothing praiseworthy or important has ever happened in the north. I so often hear rumors of Chinese machinations and extreme, almost ludicrous, conspiracies directed towards Mongolia from Beijing that I am prone to be just as dismissive as the southern naysayers at times. Yet, I am also shocked how often sino-centric visitors to Mongolia take the equally extreme but opposite position that Mongolia is hardly an important concern of the government in Beijing. As an observer, I am always trying to ascertain where the truth lies in these extreme and opposing views.

Related to this is a common rumor in Mongolia that some Chinese maps include Mongolia as part of China. I recently saw notes from a speech Owen Lattimore gave in Paris in 1976 where he relayed a similar rumor that Premier Tsedenbal had expressed to him during one of their meetings, which came as a surprise to me because of the persistence and prevalence of the rumor. Well, this myth is somewhat confirmed by a recent post I read on another blog called Asian Gypsy. He refers to a map on a Chinese website that shows no country called Mongolia, just an uninterrupted border between Russia and China. The map is available at This, of course, does not prove a conspiracy in Chinese foreign policy, but it does confirm that such maps do exist. It is surprising to say the least. What other rumors are true, I wonder?

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