Presidential visit defined by emotional support and solidarityThe Mongol Messenger
About two weeks ago, Mongolia witnessed a significant event that can be brought to the fore for turning a new page in the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Mongolia and China. This is a visit of President of Mongolia Kh.Battulga to China.
The visit came as a surprise and the public were taken away by the President’s decision to travel to the center of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The people of Mongolia, who heard more about their president’s five-hour sudden visit, hailed the visit to the southern neighbor as a smart and brave move.
The previous visits and meetings of Mongolia and China usually directed at discussions of projects, programs and agreements concerning the bilateral political, economic and social relations between the two countries. This time, President Kh.Battulga went to Beijing to offer emotional support and express solidarity on behalf of the people of Mongolia to the Chinese people, who are fighting strenuously against the disease outbreak.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping highlighted during his meeting with President Battulga that the latter became the first head of state to visit China since the coronavirus outbreak erupted. Before his visit, Prime Minister of Cambodia and Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia paid visits to China in February when the novel coronavirus outbreak was on this rise.
During the SARS epidemic of 2003, China was forced to cancel 19 of 22 events that were planned to organize in the country and most of high-level foreign visits to China were also canceled except visits of Prime Ministers of France and Romania. The people and government of China still widely acclaim the visits as special by providing emotional and material assistance driven by solidarity with China during their challenging period.
The last visit marked the fifth official meeting between the heads of state of Mongolia and China. They met in the China's coastal city of Qingdao in June 2018 during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit, and the Eastern Economic Forum, which took place in Vladivostok on September 11–13, 2018.
Next meetings between the Presidents of Mongolia and China include Presidential visit to China in April 2019 and a bilateral meeting during the annual SCO Summit held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in September 2019.
At the meeting with Xi Jinping, President Battulga said that the Mongolian people were equally concerned about the outbreak of novel coronavirus as Mongolia shares the longest land border with China. He also said “The people of China, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, can subdue the novel coronavirus outbreak and overcome this impermanent challenge soon”. During the meeting, the sides concurred that the situation surrounding the novel coronavirus outbreak didn’t concern only one country, thus requiring collaboration.
As the Chinese side stressed that the visit presented an opportunity to open new doors within the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Mongolia and China, observers are in complete agreement that the visit serves as a demonstration of an ideal cooperation between neighboring countries to the world.
In particular, the Chinese state-run press agency Xinhua analyst Jang Lina writes “President of Mongolia Battulga, becoming the first foreign head of state to visit China since the outbreak, showed confidence in China’s efforts to win the battle against the epidemic and confirmed the compassion and support for the people of China for overcoming the difficulties arose due to the epidemic.
Adversity reveals the quality of friendship
Every language must have a proverb that has a meaning – adversity reveals the quality of friendship. Russians say “druziya poznayutsya v bede” or English language has a saying “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. Since time immemorial, Mongolians used to express this wisdom with a proverb “A needle in need is of greater use than a camel in prosperity”. In addition, the value of helping each other is illustrated with sayings “Neighbors share the same mind”, and “Marriage shows if he is a good person, riding a horse reveals if it is a fine horse”.
Saying that Mongolians are a kind of people who love to help someone experiencing a tough time, President Battulga noted to the Chinese President that his visit to show solidarity with China comes in respect to the traditions and courtesies exercised between Mongolia and China from ancient times.
In turn, President Xi Jinping extended his sincere gratitude to his Mongolian counterpart for paying a visit to China regardless of the ongoing situations of the outbreak while quoting the Chinese word of wisdom “If you have received a drop of beneficence from other people, you should return to them a fountain of beneficence,” with credit to Confucius, as well as the Mongolian proverb on friendship.
Visit that enhanced mutual understanding between the peoples
The visit is regarded as an added impetus to deepen political mutual trust and improve people-to-people mutual understanding of the two nations as well as to strengthen broader mutually beneficial partnership. Especially, the improvement of mutual understanding between the peoples of Mongolia and China must be pointed out here.
Could not be further from the truth that Chinese people, except Chinese government officials, Chinese employees of Chinese companies operating in Mongolia or partnering with Mongolian entities, and Inner Mongolian people, do not have ample knowledge about Mongolia or are not aware of Mongolia at all. Unfortunately, this is a common scene in global big nations, not only in China.
It cannot be denied that some incidents of misunderstanding between the peoples occur once in a while caused by certain perceptions embedded in the Mongolian public about China and its people as associated with a complicated history or the past societies.
Reports on President Battulga handing over a gift of 30 thousand sheep to China and offering emotional support to the people of China who are putting up a strong fight against the coronavirus outbreak circulated widely on China’s social media platform Weibo and gained 65.8 million views in just about two hours. Dozens of people were making comments to thank for Mongolia, and Chinese televisions highlighted this as a truly wonderful event.
Most of the comments were positive, applauding the contribution from Mongolia, such as “As a developing country, they gave us a tangible assistance”, “Mongolia is such a great country! As a Chinese national, I really am grateful for them”, “Amazing descendants of Chinggis Khaan”, “The true meaning of being humans is helping everyone to get through their hard times, no matter the country they represent,”
Looking back at the modern history, there are many examples of Mongolia extending helping hand to other nations and generously giving all we had. In particular, livestock animals has always been considered as an honorary and meaningful gift for the people of Mongolia that was inherited from generation to generation.
Namely, Mongolia sent a gift of 500 thousand horses and 500 thousand tons of meat to the Soviet Army fighting on the frontline during the World War II, and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal affirmed to present 100 thousand tons of sheep when visiting Vietnam in 1959. In addition, Mongolia donated 200 thousand sheep to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea during the Korean War.
Meat of livestock animals in Mongolia that is rich in fat and protein, especially sheep, is proven to help preventing infectious diseases as it boosts stamina and enhances body immune system. It is not doubtful that the meat comes in handy as an irreplaceable nourishment for recovered patients and doctors working around the clock for regaining their strength.
In addition to the sheep donation, the government of Mongolia is conducting a fundraising campaign titled “Emotional Support to Eternal Friend” to help the people of China.
These moves obviously pushed the millions of people in China, who are placed under quarantine during these difficult times and are communicating with each other only through social media, to change their restricted views about Mongolia
Outcome of the visit
Mentioning about the humanitarian aid from the Mongolian people to the Chinese people, President Battulga was informed about the actions and measures being taken by China to combat with the concerning threats of coronavirus outbreak. As the coronavirus death rate in China has been decreasing gradually as opposed to the increasing rate of recovery in the country, the Mongolian side believes all the joint efforts of the Chinese government organizations to get a grip on the coronavirus spread supported by responsible citizens are yielding positive results.
While highly praising the accomplishments of the Chinese government to fight the outbreak, the delegates from Mongolia exchanged experiences and information on the best practices and measures to contain the spread and respond to outbreak. Mongolian side also expressed their willingness to intensify the partnership for prevention of infectious diseases and effective disaster management.
The visit of President Battulga is characterized as a clear display of an essence of Mongolia’s foreign policy whilst upholding the reputation of Mongolia on the regional and international fora, and becoming a tangible step to deepen the bilateral relationship and mutual understanding between the two peoples.
Not to mention the successful outcomes of the visit helped maintain the frequency of high-level reciprocal visits and provided impetus to the affirmation of the Mongolia-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and strengthening of the mutual trust. Mongolia and China, who maintain Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, must carry on with the relations and cooperation under any circumstances.
China is a crucial trade and economic partner of Mongolia. Forasmuch as the Chinese efforts to control the coronavirus spread started bringing about positive results, eight towns and aimags of China bordering with Mongolia have eased their state of emergency regime. This step now allows Mongolia to resume its coal export shipments from March 15.
It is now anticipated that both countries, by overcoming the present challenge what is seen as transient, could resume foreign trade activities, and their passenger transport will return to its normal state within a short period of time.
Photo by Sh.Otgonjargal