Mongolia in the 1960’s and 1970’s

By | June 6, 2022

According to Homosociety, Mongolia externally gained worldwide attention when the Sino-Soviet conflict was transformed into open controversy and a determining factor in international relations. Objective of opposing solicitations, Mongolia has benefited for some years from the double Soviet and Chinese help to accelerate the development process; then, in the face of the increasingly marked presence of the USSR, he substantially entrusted the latter with the leadership of industrial transformation. The play of external influences and the commitment to modernization are, therefore, the fundamental aspects of interest offered by that Asian frontier country, still linked to pre-capitalist forms of life. Recognized in January 1946 by the Kuomintang government, the Mongolian People’s Republic (RPM) had been included in the system of popular democracies with a ten-year treaty of friendship and mutual aid, signed in Moscow in February of the same year; in 1948 it had launched its first five-year plan, in correspondence with the second and more radical wave of planning in the countries of Eastern Europe. Following the victory of the Chinese revolution, in the framework of the Sino-Soviet treaty of 1950, Mao Tse-tung had also recognized its independence; and by virtue of this recognition he had been able to open a diplomatic mission, send 20,000 workers to the country, build a second Beijing-Ulan Bator railway link, and enter into various agreements for technical and scientific assistance. But the The balance thus established between the Russian and Chinese presence had not resolved the problems connected to a long history of competing influences. The Chinese desire to attract the sympathies of Mongolian nationalism was evidently evident from the symbolic construction in the autonomous territory of the internal territory (1954) of a mausoleum dedicated to Genghiz Khān, the founder of an Asian empire that had extended to the Russian lands; in 1957 the Chinese geographical maps marked the border with the RPM by means of a line that indicated the borders “not definitively fixed”, while the Soviet ones, on the contrary, recorded as valid for all purposes all the northern borders of China. At that time, considerable pro-Chinese tendencies were operating within the Mongolian Revolutionary People’s Party (PPRM).

The political picture changed in the early 1960s, when Soviet pressure was intensified on all Asian people’s democracies through the granting of generous economic aid. In July 1961 the CPSU was represented at the XIV congress of the PPRM by MA Suslov: and on that occasion the main Soviet ideologue declared that “the political support, economic aid and military power of the USSR represent a comforting guarantee for the happy advancement of Mongolia on the path of independence, democracy and progress “, hinting that any Chinese attempt to revise the borders would be firmly rejected. In October, thanks to Soviet interest, Mongolia was admitted to the UN and in June 1962 she joined the Comecon. In September of the same year, the III plenum of the Mongolian Central Committee eliminated a pro-Chinese group, which was also represented in the Political Bureau; then the PPRM took a stand against the Albanians, while in January 1963 Ju. Tsedenbal, Prime Minister for over a decade, gave two speeches in Ulan Bator and East Berlin, directed against the ideological and political line of Maoism. For his part, in the well-known interview with the Japanese socialists (10 July 1964), Mao Tse-tung renewed the old claims against Mongolia already expressed in a 1936 interview with E. Snow. He attributed to the Yalta conference the assignment of the external Mongolia to the USSR, under the cover of formal independence: “The Soviet Union has occupied too many territories. At the Yalta conference it has left a ‘ nominal independence to external Mongolia nominally it only broke away from China, but in reality it fell under the control of the Soviet Union. “He also revealed how the Mongol problem had been touched without results during Khrushchev and Bulganin’s visit to China in 1954.

However, Ulan Bator had not interrupted relations with Beijing: on the economic level, on the contrary, it was able to guarantee itself for a few years, from both Soviet and Chinese sources, an influx never before registered of financial and technical contributions. The standard of living was improved, the difficult struggle against nomadism was resumed, the process of social transformation that had previously set the pace intensified (in 1957 private farming still reached 75% of the total); moreover, a second industrial center, in the city of Darkhan, was alongside that of the capital. Only after Brezhnev’s visit to Ulan Bator (January 1966), followed by the guarantee of new, large Soviet aid, did the last contingents of Chinese workers and technicians leave Mongolia. The program of industrialization was pursued on the ideological foundation of the direct transition from feudalism to socialism, with the leap of the capitalist phase and primitive accumulation, which would be guaranteed by Soviet international aid; in fact, activities of transformation or in any case of production of consumer goods have been promoted by Russian specialists, who arrived in the country in conditions of privilege compared to local cadres, and by Soviet, Czechoslovakian, Polish and Bulgarian investments. Considering both the shortage of a Mongolian working class and the low population density, the development of a modern industrial life is destined to favor immigration, with results similar to those already achieved, albeit in other ways, in the Autonomous Republic of Buryats (where the majority of the residents are of Russian nationality) and in the Autonomous Territory of Internal Affairs (where the majority is Chinese). The Russian cultural influence is favored by the adoption of the Cyrillic alphabet and the system of studies, which eliminates any Western, Japanese or Lamaist element; and also the influx of qualified Russian personnel and the exclusion of any Chinese influence (in 1967 the last Chinese school was closed, at the diplomatic mission). During the Cultural Revolution, violent attacks were carried out by the Red Guards against the leaders of Ulan Bator; following the 1969 clashes over the Ussuri, the Chinese did not fail to appeal to the national sentiment and Asian solidarity of the Mongolian people, while in December 1971 the head of the Chinese delegation to the UN accused the USSR of keeping troops equipped with nuclear weapons in the RPM. But the firm insertion of Mongolia into the “socialist community” still emerges from the relations with some Eastern European countries. In June 1973 a new Mongolian-Czechoslovakian friendship treaty replaced that of 1957; in November of the same year a Bulgarian delegation visited Mongolia. On both occasions some principles of Soviet politics were repeated: the urgent need for a collective security system in Asia was declared and the splitting activity of Maoism was controversially affected. Further Mongol-Soviet agreements include a new complex for the extraction of copper and molybdenum, and a joint venture for the exploration and exploitation of non-ferrous metals; on the other hand, the oil prospects of the region are neglected, while a Japanese project relating to copper fields has not been taken into consideration.

Mongolia in the 1960's