Why Wang Failed to Win over Mongolia
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Mongolia was met with protests as hundreds of demonstrators expressed their displeasure with Beijing's recent curriculum reform in Inner Mongolian ethnic schools, demanding respect for Mongolian language and culture.
Despite this, Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga, Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh, and Foreign Minister Enkhtaivan refrained from criticizing the reforms during talks with Wang.
Mongolian officials did, however, request that Beijing address delays at Chinese checkpoints that have been problematic for commodity exports and expressed interest in purchasing more raw agricultural products, particularly beef and lamb.
Wang Yi promised to explore ways to boost bilateral trade and sought Mongolia's support in the growing US-China rivalry, urging the country not to choose sides.
During his visit, Wang offered a $100 million grant (not debt) to Mongolia, but the public perceived it as a bribe to silence Mongolian grievances over language and culture issues in Inner Mongolia.
Although President Battulga was once a fierce critic of China, he has taken a more accommodating stance, remaining silent on the language issue and offering support to China in controlling COVID-19 during his February 2020 visit to Beijing.
Former Mongolian President Elbegdorj, on the other hand, has become a vocal critic of China's language policy in Inner Mongolia, engaging in a public spat with the Chinese ambassador in Ulaanbaatar and accusing China of cultural genocide.
The Chinese ambassador responded by calling Elbegdorj a hypocrite for supporting the one-China policy while promoting "Southern Mongolia."
Despite Mongolia's growing need for Chinese finance, investment, and trade, its leaders have not fully embraced China. This presents a challenge for Wang, who sought to gain Mongolia's friendship during his visit.
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