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The Mongolian People's Republic ( ) was a communist state in Central Asia which existed between 1924 and 1992. It was ruled by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and remained a loyal Soviet ally throughout its history.


From 1691 to 1911, Outer Mongolia was ruled by the Manchu Qing Dynastymarker. In the first decade of the 20th century, the Qing began implementing the so-called New Policies, aimed at an integration of Outer Mongolia into Chinamarker. Upset by the prospect of Chinese colonization akin to the developments in Inner Mongolia during the 19th century, the Mongolian nobility turned to Tsarist Russiamarker for support. In August 1911, a Mongol delegation went to Saint Petersburgmarker and obtained a pledge of limited support. When they returned, the Xinhai Revolution had begun in China, and in December 1911 the Mongols deposed the Manchu amban in Ikh Khureemarker and declared their independence under the leadership of the 8th Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, who was appointed Bogd Khan of Mongolia. Attempts to include Inner Mongolia into the new state failed, partly due to Russian intervention (Russia was bound in Inner Mongolian affairs by secret treaties with Japan), partly due to lack of support from Inner Mongolian nobles and the higher clergy. In the Khiagtmarker agreement of 1915, China, Russia and Mongolia agreed on Mongolia's status as autonomous under Chinese suzerainty.

However, the Republic of Chinamarker was able to use the Russian revolution and the ensuing civil war as a pretext to deploy troops in Outer Mongolia, and in 1919 the Mongolian government was forced to sign a treaty that abolished Mongolia's autonomy. It was under Chinese occupation that the Mongolian People's Party was founded and once again looked to the north, this time to the Soviet Unionmarker, for help. In the mean time, White Russian troops led by Roman Ungern von Sternberg had occupied Khuree in early March 1921, and a new theocratic government once more declared independence from China, on March 13. But Ungern von Sternberg and the remaining Chinese troops were driven out of Outer Mongolia in the following months, and on July 6, 1921, the Mongolian People's Party and Soviet troops took Khuree. The People's Party founded a new government, but kept the Bogd Khan as nominal head of state. In the following years though some violent power struggles, Soviet influence got ever stronger, and after the Bogd Khan's death, the Mongolian People's Republic was proclaimed on November 26, 1924.

Consolidation of power (1925 - 1938)

Between 1925 and 1928, the new regime became established. In 1928, schemes to collectivize herding and to expropriate the nobility and the monasteries were implemented, together with a total ban on private enterprise. These politics led to a breakdown in economy and transportation, and more importantly to uprisings in the west and south that could only be suppressed with the help of the Soviet Red Army. After 1932, the implementation of a command economy was scaled back, but in 1936, and especially after Japanese encroachments had given the Soviets enough reason to deploy Soviet troops in Mongolia in 1937, a whole-scale attack on the Buddhist faith began. At the same time, Soviet-style purges took place in the party and the army. Among those killed were such prominent figures as Peljidiin Genden, Anandyn Amar, Demid, and Losol. Mongolia's leader at that time was Khorloogiin Choibalsan, a follower of Joseph Stalin who emulated many of the policies Stalin had implemented in the Soviet Union. The purges led to the almost complete eradication of Lamaism in the country, and cost an estimated 30,000-35,000 lives, equivalent to about five percent of Mongolia's population.

World War II (1939-1945)

During World War II, because of a growing Japanese threat over the Mongolian-Manchurian border, the Soviet Unionmarker reversed the course of Mongolian socialism in favor of a new policy of economic gradualism and build-up of the national defense. The Soviet and Mongolian armies defeated Japanese forces that had invaded eastern Mongolia in the summer of 1939 at the Battle of Khalkhin Golmarker, and a truce was signed setting up a commission to define the Mongolian-Manchurian border in the autumn of that year.

After 1941, Mongolia's economy was readjusted to support the Soviet Union in every way possible, including providing funding for several Soviet military units. In the summer of 1945, the Soviet Union used Mongolia as one base for launching Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation, a successful attack against the Japanese. The preceding build-up brought 650,000 Soviet soldiers to Mongolia, along with massive amounts of equipment. The Mongolian People's Army played a limited support role in the conflict, but its involvement gave Stalin the means to force the Chinese side finally to accept Mongolia's independence.

The 1945 Sino-Soviet Treaty and Mongolia's Independence

The February 1945 Yalta Conference provided for the Soviet Union's participation in the Pacific War. One of the Soviet conditions for its participation, put forward at Yalta, was that after the war Outer Mongolia would retain its "status-quo." The precise meaning of this "status-quo" became a bone of contention at Sino-Soviet talks in Moscow in the summer of 1945 between Stalin and Jiang Jieshi's representative T.V. Soong.

Stalin insisted on Republic of China's recognition of Outer Mongolia's independence - something that it already enjoyed de facto even as it remained a part of China de jure. Jiang Jieshi resisted the idea but eventually gave in. However, Jiang extracted from Stalin a promise to refrain from supporting the Chinese Communist Party, partly as a quid pro quo for giving up Outer Mongolia.

Thus, the Sino-Soviet Treaty guaranteed Outer Mongolia's independence. But it also ended Khorloogiin Choibalsan's hopes for uniting Outer Mongolia with Inner Mongolia, which remained in China's hands. Choibalsan initially hoped that Stalin would support his vision of Great Mongolia but the Soviet leader easily sacrificed Choibalsan's vision for Soviet gains, guaranteed by the Sino-Soviet Treaty and legitimized by the Yalta agreements. In this sense, the Sino-Soviet Treaty marked Mongolia's permanent division into an independent Mongolian People's Republic and a neighboring Inner Mongolia.

Cold War politics (1945 - 1985)

Secure in its relations with Moscow, the Mongolian Government shifted to postwar development, focusing on civilian enterprise. International ties were expanded, and Mongolia established relations with North Koreamarker and the new Communist states in Eastern Europe. Mongolia and the People's Republic of Chinamarker (PRC) recognized each other in 1949, and PRC renounced all territorial pretensions towards Outer Mongolia. However, Mao Zedong privately hoped for Mongolia's reintegration with China. He raised this question before the Soviet leadership as early as 1949 (in meeting with Anastas Mikoyan at Xibaipo), and then, having been firmly rebuffed by Stalin, in 1954, after Stalin's death. In 1956, following Nikita Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin, the Chinese leaders attempted to present Mongolia's independence as one of Stalin's mistakes in meetings with Mikoyan. The Soviet's response was that the Mongols were free to decide their own fate.

In the 1950s relations between the MPR and the PRC improved considerably. China provided much needed economic aid, building up entire industries in Ulaanbaatar, as well as apartment blocks (for example, the so called "120 myangat district"). Thousands of Chinese laborers were involved in these projects until China withdrew them after 1962 in a bid to pressure Mongolia to break with Moscow at the time of worsening Sino-Soviet relations.

Mongolia took a sharply pro-Soviet stand in the Sino-Soviet dispute, being one of the first socialist countries to endorse the Soviet position in the quarrel with China. Military build-up on the Sino-Mongolian border began as early as 1963; in December 1965 the Mongolian Politburo requested the Soviet Union to station its military forces in Mongolia. In January 1966, with Leonid Brezhnev's visit to Mongolia, the two countries signed a mutual assistance treaty, paving way to Soviet military presence in the MPR. In February 1967, following weeks of worsening Sino-Soviet tensions, Moscow officially approved the stationing of what became the 39th Soviet army in Mongolia.

With Soviet encouragement, Mongolia increased its participation in communist-sponsored conferences and international organizations. In 1955, Mongolia attempted to join the United Nations, but the request was vetoed by the Republic of Chinamarker (ROC), which maintained their (renewed) claim over Mongolia. Mongolia became a member of the UN in 1961 after the Soviet Union threatened to veto the admission of all of the newly decolonized states of Africa unless the ROC did not use its veto. Diplomatic relations with the United States were not established until the end of the Cold War.

Collapse (1985 - 1996)

After Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union, he implemented the policies of perestroika and glasnost. The atmosphere of reform in the Soviet Union prompted similar reforms in Mongolia. Following mass demonstrations in the winter of 1990, the MPRP began to loosen its controls of the political system. The Politburo of the MPRP resigned in March, and in May the constitution was amended, deleting reference to the MPRP's role as the guiding force in the country, legalizing opposition parties, creating a standing legislative body, and establishing the office of president. On July 29, 1990, the first free, multiparty elections in Mongolia were held. The election results returned a majority for the MPRP, which won with 85% of the vote. It was not until 1996 that the reformed MPRP was voted out of office.

The USSR withdrew its troops stationed in Mongolia, and its technical and financial assistance, between 1987 and 1992. Subsequently, the foreign and defense policy of Mongolia profoundly changed: “Maintaining friendly relations with the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China shall be a priority of Mongolia’s foreign policy activity. It shall not adopt the line of either country but shall maintain in principle a balanced relationship with both of them and shall promote all-round good neighborly co-operation."

See also


  1. C.R. Bawden, The modern history of Mongolia, London 1968, p. 191-201
  2. Christopher Kaplonski: "Thirty thousand bullets: remembering political repression in Mongolia", in Kenneth Christie and Robert Cribb, eds., Historical Injustice and Democratic Transition in Eastern Asia and Northern Europe: Ghosts at the Table of Democracy, London 2002, p. 156, 167n2
  3. Liu Xiaoyuan, Reins of Liberation: An Entangled History of Mongolian Independence, Chinese Territoriality, and Great Power Hegemony, 1911-1950 (Washington D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Press, 2006)
  4. Sergey Radchenko, "New Documents on Mongolia and the Cold War," Cold War International History Project Bulletin no. 16 (2008)
  5. Mongolia, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
  6. Permanent Mission of Mongolia to the United Nations, Concept of Mongolia’s Foreign Policy, 1994

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