How China Colonized Southern Mongolia

Compiled by
Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center

New York

Southern Mongolia, also known as “Inner Mongolia” as a result of the direct translation of a highly sino-centric terminology “nei menggu”, was an independent nation up until 1949 when the People’s Republic of China officially annexed it to own territory.

The process of how Southern Mongolia was turned into a Chinese colony under the communist regime is a textbook example of how modern imperialism and neocolonialism can work hand in hand to destroy a nation, crumble its economy and wipe out its culture.

While the Communist China’s imperialism came to Southern Mongolia in the name of “liberation”, her neocolonialism presented itself in Southern Mongolia under the rhetoric of “development”. Since China’s imperialistic nature including military expansion, territorial annexation and political control has relatively been well-documented from the experience of Tibet, East Turkistan and Southern Mongolia, it would be beneficial to expose China’s neocolonialism to provide an early warning to those nations that are already targeted by China. The key methods of neocolonialism that China has organically applied in Southern Mongolia can roughly be summarized in these four large categories: economic “development”, population transfer, gradual Sinicization and resource plundering.


1. Economic “Development”

The biggest and even fatal mistake a nation that has no previous experience of close contact with China can make is to take what China says at its face value. China would never say to destroy your national economy and make you a beggar on your own land. Instead she would say to “help” you to “develop” your economy to “mutually benefit” and to “prosper together”. She can even come up with an awkwardly intimate rhetoric such as establishing “twin city” or “sister city” relationship with your town, and becoming your “bigger brother” to help you “younger brother”. In the past 70 years, China cultivated the Southern Mongolian grassland, and called it “help boosting rural economy”, and “assist the Mongolians to adopt an advanced way of life” which certainly was the Chinese farming way of life. When the thin top soil of Mongolian plateau is destroyed by the Chinese plough, China blamed the Mongolian “backward nomadic way of life” for the environmental degradation. Thanks to these series of “help”, “assistance” and “development”, the Southern Mongolian national economy has completely collapsed, and pastoralist economy has become nonexistent.


2. Population Transfer

Influxes of population transfer from China proper to Southern Mongolia played a crucial role in destroying the nation of Southern Mongolia. The early waves of population transfer took place in a more natural way of refugee, fleeing from natural disaster and poverty. Most of the refugees were poor peasants from the neighboring Chinese provinces. The Mongolians gave them food, shelter, livestock and land to feed their families. Within few decades, they quickly multiplied and pushed the Mongolians out of their land. In fact, during the massive genocide in the 1960s and 1970s, these peasants became the pioneers of torturing and slaughtering the Mongolians en masse. The later waves of population transfer took place in a more planned manner with strong government backing, such as “production and construction corps”, “banished intellectuals”. The latest form of population transfer has taken place in the name of “Western Development”, “urbanization”, “inviting investors” and “recovering ecosystem”. As a result of these nonstop Chinese migration, the population ratio of 5 Mongolians to 1 Chinese before the annexation has been reversed to 1 Mongolian to 5 Chinese today.


3. Gradual Sinicization

As the Chinese population grows exponentially in the new colony, the Government of China has increasingly been confident in speeding up the Sinicization process of the indigenous people. One of the key steps the Government of China has taken to Sinicize the Mongolians in Southern Mongolia was to destroy the language and carry out a wholesale cultural genocide. During the massive genocide campaign in the 1960s and 1970s, all Mongolian schools were banned, and after the genocide, some Mongolians schools were restored but with very limited scales. Again staring early 2000, majority of the rural Mongolian schools were either removed or converted to Chinese ones under the “ecological migration” and “urbanization” policies. According to some statistics, the number of students taught in Mongolian has been reduced by 80% since the 1980s. So, today what we are left out with is the remaining 20% of what we had in the 1980s. Now as we speak, the Central Government of China is planning to implement a new round, likely the last round, of cultural genocide, which is to completely replace Mongolian with Chinese as language of instruction in all Mongolian schools across Southern Mongolia in the name of “second type of bilingual education” starting September 1, this year.


4. Resource Plundering

In 2009, the Government of China announced that Southern Mongolia had become “China’s Energy Base”. This gave a green-light to all Chinese extractive industries to come to Southern Mongolia to open up mines with no regards to the survival of indigenous Mongolia communities. From state-run mining giants to private and ninja miners, thousands of mining companies poured to Southern Mongolian territory. Local Mongolian herders have been forced to leave their land to give way to these miners. Lacking the necessary skills to survive in Chinese sedentary and urban societies, many displaced herders became jobless, homeless, and landless on their own land. Another devastating effect of these resource plundering is the total destruction of environment. Once beautiful Mongolian grassland has completely been destroyed. Vast grazing lands turned into mining pits. Rivers and lakes are dried up. Underground water has been depleted. Toxic wastes are threatening not only the wellbeing of wild life and livestock but also the public health of the local Mongolian communities.

As China becomes an economic super power thanks to the natural resources plundered from Southern Mongolia and other occupied nations and cheap labor exploited from the vast domestic population of 1.5 billion, her global ambition certainly is growing rapidly. The notorious Belt and Road Initiative is one manifestation of China’s global hegemony and appetite of neocolonialism. Any nation, as sovereign and independent as it maybe, should take extra precaution when receiving China’s gift of “help” and “friendship” if it does not wish to become her de facto colony.


Enghebatu Togochog



Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC)

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 917-698-4367