Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Mary Han, Vanessa Ratten and Isabell M. Welpe
Chapter 23: Mongolia
Malcolm Innes-Brown Introducing Mongolia: political antecedence to present day SME potential With the fall of the Manchu Dynasty in 1911, having been earlier deposed by China, the last of the Great Khaans in Mongolia – Jebtsun Damba Khutukhtu (the living Buddha of Urga) – was reinstated. By 1919 the country was re-occupied by China until 1921 when a ferocious battle in the streets of Urga (the present day Ulaanbaatar) between the Chinese occupiers and a force of White Russians liberated the city. The victory was far from fortuitous as the Russians, who were led by Baron von Ungern-Sternberg (the ‘mad Baron’) proved to be an extravagant, quixotic and cruel leader, inflicting gross abuse not only upon the Great Khaan and his people, but also upon his own soldiers. In 1924 the Great Khaan died, the same year as a second brief but monumental battle between remnant von Ungern-Sternberg forces and an uprising led by a popular nationalist named Sukhbaatar (Mongolians tend to use only one name). The uprising was supported by a detachment of the Red Army and the victory established Mongolia as the second country after Bolshevik Russia itself – and the first in Asia – to become a communist state. A Moscow-scripted constitution was formally adopted in 1924, although Sukhbaatar negotiated Mongolian independence under the new constitution. During the battles, the traditional Tibetan-style wooden buildings of the city were largely destroyed, Urga was renamed Ulaanbaatar. Sovietization of the city’s architecture – still very much evident in the somber, gaunt, public buildings today – began....
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