China and Mongolia share the longest borderline of 4,710 kilometres. The two countries are good neighbours, good friends and good partners linked by mountains and rivers.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and Mongolia. Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan will pay a friendly visit to Mongolia on Wednesday.
In an interview Chinese Ambassador to Mongolia Xing Haiming tackled topics of the bilateral relations and Mongolia’s attitude toward Belt & Road initiative (BRI).
Q. What have the diplomatic ties over the past 70 years have achieved and what is the future course they are likely to take?
Ambassador Xing: Mongolia has established diplomatic relations with China since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in October 1949 as one of the first 10 countries that established ties with China at that time. Even though the two countries have experienced some setbacks since then, good-neighbourliness and friendliness have marked ties.
In 1994, the two countries revised the Treaty on Friendly Relations and Cooperation between China and Mongolia, which laid the political and legal foundation for the healthy and stable development of the bilateral relations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a historic visit to Mongolia in 2014. The two countries upgraded bilateral relations to comprehensive strategic partnership, marking a new historical chapter in the bilateral relations.
At present, the “three carriages” – mutual political trust, economic and trade cooperation, people-to-people and cultural exchanges are driving bilateral relations fast forward.
High-level exchanges are frequent, meanwhile, mutual political trust has deepened. In 2018, the heads of the two countries met twice, reaching a consensus on a series of important issues and giving a boost to bilateral cooperation.
In April, Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga paid a state visit to China and attended the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. The meeting between the two top leaders was a significant one in the year of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and Mongolia.
In terms of trade cooperation, Mongolia has been supporting and participating in the China-proposed BRI. The two sides are speeding up the alignment of the BRI and Mongolia’s Development Road Program.
China has been the biggest trading partner, the most important source of investment and aid to Mongolia for years. Last year, Mongolia’s trade volume with China reached $8.53 billion, accounting for 66.2 percent of Mongolia’s total foreign trade volume, 26.9 percent higher than that of 2017. The two sides are working together to achieve the goal of bilateral trade volume of $10 billion by 2020.
China and Mongolia are accelerating joint research on FTA. The two countries have signed an inter-governmental agreement on a joint economic zone, which comprises land in Erenhot, North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Zamyn-Uud, Mongolia.
On July 10, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan will pay a visit to Mongolia, which will take bilateral relations into a new phase in the new era.
Q. Amid anti-globalisation, unilateralism and trade protectionism, what is the significance of the joint research by the two countries on free trade zone (FTZ) and its implementation?
Ambassador Xing: Currently, the main challenge for the global economy is the rising anti-globalisation, unilateralism and trade protectionism. The US-led trade friction with China has aroused global attention.
I recently published an article with some facts about the trade friction and laid out China’s stance in Mongolian media, which triggered a strong reaction in Mongolia.
I talked with people from all fields in Mongolia, and most of them understand and support China’s position. They hope that China and the US can properly resolve trade disputes through dialogue and consultation.
China has been dedicating to protecting the free trade system and carrying out economic and trade cooperation with other countries based on equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect.
The FTZ cooperation between China and Mongolia demonstrates that most countries, including Mongolia, safeguard multilateralism and the system of free trade, instead of supporting unilateralism and trade protectionism.
The China-Mongolia FTZ is part of the consensus reached between the top leaders, which will open a huge market of almost 1.4 billion people.
It is to be noted that the population of Mongolia is less than 3.4 million. As a result, it shows China’s sincerity to carry out economic and trade cooperation with Mongolia and care about Mongolia’s development. The two sides are working hard to speed up feasible research on the FTZ and look forward to positive results as soon as possible.
Q. What is Mongolia’s approach to the Belt & Road Initiative?
Ambassador Xing: Since China proposed the BRI, Mongolia has given active response to and support for it. Mongolian officials said many times that the country will actively participate in and support the BRI.
Mongolia also took the initiative to make changes in its development plan and proposed the alignment of its Development Road Program with the BRI.
The foreign minister of Mongolia has publicised the BRI several times at multilateral forums, appealing to more nations to participate in and build the BRI together.
It is notable that Mongolia has established the BRI fast-pass channel at the Chinggis Khaan International Airport, and some ports and stations. People participating in the BRI projects with approved certificates can pass through the BRI fast-pass channel.
In addition, Mongolia gives important suggestions in order to support and implement the BRI projects, which also shows its positive attitude.
Q. Is the cooperation between China & Mongolia mutually beneficial?
Ambassador Xing: President Xi Jinping proposed building a community with a shared future for mankind. This proposal will work better when looking at neighbouring countries. You cannot move your neighbours. We should have cooperation, gain mutual benefits and win-win results, these are our goals.
Probably Mongolia may gain more benefits from some projects. However, generally speaking, our cooperation is mutually beneficial and supportive of each other.
China’s borderline with Mongolia is longer than that with Russia. If the border is peaceful and stable with friendly people-to-people exchanges, it will for sure bring benefits to both sides.
Q. Apart from China’ support, Mongolia has accepted aid from Russia, Japan, South Korea and other countries. How is aid from these countries different and is there competition among them?
Ambassador Xing: Mongolia’s territorial area is very large – about 1.56 million square kilometres with the population of approximately 3.3 million.
Under such circumstances, the priority for the country is to develop friendly & cooperative relations with its two neighbours. The next step is to develop relations with other countries.
China is pleased to see Mongolia carrying out normal and friendly cooperation with other countries. However, we do not allow unfriendly actions taken place at our surrounding areas. We do not allow behaviours that do not respect China’s key benefits. Mongolia said that it will respect China’s core benefit completely.
Q. How can Mongolia better attract Chinese investors and protect their rights?
Ambassador Xing: Investment is in fact a way of cooperation and is usually controlled by the company itself. It is not inter-governmental cooperation.
I suggest investors first learn about the country’s investing environment. After evaluating the investment amount and budget, you can finally invest.
I think the first principle is to pay mutual respect; second, we should gain mutual benefit and win-win results. No one should eat the food alone. Third, Chinese companies should shoulder social responsibility in the invested country. They should not only care about making profits.
I believe if all of the above work is done well, it is very prospective for a Chinese company to invest in Mongolia.
Q. How do you comment on people-to-people exchanges between China and Mongolia?
Ambassador Xing: When President Xi Jinping visited Mongolia in 2014, he announced a plan to strengthen bilateral exchanges and cooperation in fields such as youth, media and language exchanges.
China has offered 25 TV series for free to Mongolia. I can tell you there is currently a trend in Mongolia to watch Chinese TV series. It shows that Chinese culture is very popular and welcomed in Mongolia.
Moreover, the Chinese government provides Mongolia with a large number of scholarships every year. Each year, when the embassy holds tests for Chinese government scholarships, it is as popular as the college entrance exam in Mongolia.
Our embassy keeps trying innovative work to promote cultural exchanges. We have translated four great Chinese classical novels into Mongolian, which has been well received in Mongolia.