D.Bayarkhuu: I am confident that Mongolia-U.S relations will make progress during the presidency of Joe BidenPolitics
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. We interviewed D.Bayarkhuu, professor of international relations to share his views on the current state and future tendency on Mongolia’s foreign relations, specifically its relations with the neighboring countries and the U.S, in connection with the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden in a few days.
-How do you evaluate Mongolia's foreign policy in 2020, and how do you envision foreign policy trends for this year?
Although the world has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and countries narrowed their foreign relations, Mongolia has continued to pursue its multi-based, peace-loving and active foreign policy. It has also shown during the pandemic that foreign relations do not stop in the online world. Foreign relations activities, such as international conferences, bilateral and multilateral consultations, etc. are being organized virtually. 2020 was a year full of major events in Mongolian politics. For instance, the parliamentary election was held and the cabinet was newly formed, which have not made change or adjustments to the foreign policy of our country. There were neither halts nor hinders in Mongolia’s foreign relations. Therefore, I personally find that the foreign policy and relations were realized effectively in 2020.
As for 2021, the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic will continue. Even though the foreign relations will be limited in certain extent due to the new challenges arose as a result of the pandemic, I am optimistic that it will not be slowed down. The activities such as diplomatic visits, foreign cooperation and foreign trade will continue but in limited conditions.
-Currently, it seems as if the period can be divided into three categories: pre-COVID, during COVID, and post-COVID. How will the continued uncertainty, caused by the pandemic, change Mongolia?
According to foreign researchers, this pandemic has a tendency to be with us for another 3-4 years. It means that the restrictions and lockdowns will be imposed constantly and will have impacts on the development and foreign relations of our country. However, we need to look ahead and fulfil the goals without compromising.
Our two neighbors, the region, as well as our third neighbors and the world community, are all pursuing policies in line with the current situation. It is considered to be the greatest challenge facing mankind since World War II. To that extent, our external environment will change. It would be right for us to be ready for it, to adapt quickly to the new situation, and to try to turn it in our favor.
-How do you see the relations between our two neighbors - China and Russia? How do the relations of these great powers affect Mongolia?
Relations between our two neighboring countries are at their best. The political relations of them have been strengthened with full confidence as well as trade and economic relations and cooperation in other sectors have developed rapidly. To that extent, a beneficial opportunity has been opened up for our country. A favorable political condition has been created for the establishment of the economic corridors and further development of economic cooperation between the three countries. Now it is important to realize it and work together for mutual benefits. Unfortunately, the pandemic has affected negatively to make progress on this matter. Preparing our economy for the economic corridor cooperation should be intensified.
-How do the relations of the two neighbors with the United States affect Mongolia?
Mongolia pursues the third neighbor policy that builds relations with countries other than our neighbors. We see some conflicts in the relations of our two neighbors with the U.S. and Mongolia maintains its ‘neutral’ status. There is no denying the possibilities that the two neighbors have concerns that Mongolia-U.S. relations could be detrimental to them, or that Mongolia could be used in U.S. policy against them. In contrast, we should also emphasize the fact that our neighbors have trusted and respected our multi-based and peace-loving foreign policy. Not taking sides is the foreign policy that Mongolia has pursued for a long time.
Joe Biden will soon be sworn in as the President of the United States. How will Mongolia-U.S relations change after this event? Especially in terms of economic cooperation.
It is too early to tell. The U.S foreign policy is likely to continue without deviating from its basic principles. I am confident that Mongolian-U.S. relations will make progress. The resolution reaffirming the strategic partnership between the United States and Mongolia was adopted by the House of Representatives of the U.S. congress in the fall of 2020. Moreover, the process of the discussing the draft law on Third Neighbor Trade Act submitted to the U.S. Congress is likely to be completed soon. Therefore, it can be considered as a new beginning of economic cooperation between the two countries.
Let's get back to Mongolia-China relations. It is believed that the relations between the two countries during the COVID-19 period, especially the initiative of the President of Mongolia, contributed to the development of mutual understanding between the citizens of the two countries. What’s your comment on this?
First of all, I would like to emphasize the fact that our president Kh.Battulga became the first foreign head of state to pay an official visit to China since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. During his visit, President Kh.Battulga touched upon the donation campaign titled ‘Emotional Support to Eternal Neighbor’ that was launched by the Government of Mongolia, the voluntary donations made by the Mongolian people and entities to the Chinese side, and the donation of 30 thousand sheep by the people of Mongolia within the scope of the visit, saying that these contributions will be measured in the depth of its significance in bilateral ties, rather than in their size. It is also noteworthy that many people were making comments to thank to Mongolia, and Chinese televisions highlighted this as a truly wonderful event.
-Most of the world's economic growth slowed down due to the pandemic. According to the recent study, only China’s economy has shown a normal growth. As for Mongolia, all economic indicators have shown a decrease. What should be done to increase benefits of economic cooperation with China, this neighbor of ours?
Of course, the economic growth decreases more or less since it is a global pandemic. In fact, I am critical of the fact that we have underutilized China's enormous potential (infinitely large market, buyers, diversified and fast-paced economy). Mongolia exports only raw coal, gold, copper, leather, cashmere, etc. to China.
We lack processing plants that produces value-added products using raw materials from surface and underground resources with advanced technology. Having these types of processing plants will allow Mongolia’s export products to be expensive.
In his speech in 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping used a slogan "China does not want to develop alone, but wants to develop together with its neighbors”. Therefore, whether the economic cooperation between the two countries will be beneficial for Mongolia depends only on Mongolians.