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Contestation and AdaptationThe Politics of National Identity in China$

Enze Han

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199936298

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199936298.001.0001

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(p.87) Chapter 5 Ambiguities of National Identity Among the Mongols

(p.87) Chapter 5 Ambiguities of National Identity Among the Mongols

(p.87) Chapter 5 Ambiguities of National Identity Among the Mongols
Contestation and Adaptation

Enze Han

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter examines the Mongol case. Mongols in China have quite substantial external cultural ties with Mongolia as the external kin state. Mongolia, as an independent country, became a democracy following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Economically, Mongolia has lagged far behind the PRC, particularly during recent decades. Comparatively speaking, therefore, the Mongols in China perceive better political and cultural life in Mongolia but not economic well-being. Despite the existence of a small diaspora community that aims to push for Inner Mongolia self-determination, the Mongols in China have not received substantial external support in recent history. Contemporarily, the Mongols in China do not exhibit strong independent spirit but rather aim to keep a certain cultural autonomy within the Chinese national framework.

The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) is one of five autonomous regions in China, with an area of approximately 1.18 million square kilometers, making it the third largest provincial level entity within China. According to the 2000 National Census, the IMAR has a total population of 23.3 million, of which Han Chinese are 79.2 percent, while the group for which the region is named, the Mongols, are about 17.1 percent. IMAR borders Mongolia—which declared independence from China in 1912, after the fall of the Qing Dynasty—and Russia to the north and stretches from China’s northwest to its northeast. The IMAR was first established in 1947 as an autonomous region for the Mongols, two years before the founding of the PRC. The Mongols were granted a certain level of autonomy, especially in education, language, and culture. However, the fate of IMAR has been tied deeply to the political circumstances within China, and the Mongols suffered greatly during the politically turbulent years when Mao Zedong was in power. In the post-Mao years, although the legal status of the Mongols’ autonomous region was recognized through the Constitution and the 1984 Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law, in reality the Mongols experienced great pressure from the Chinese state and society to assimilate culturally and linguistically. Rapid economic development and marketization within China during the past few decades has been especially detrimental to the Mongolian culture and language. The Mongols face new challenges as changes in their traditional pastoral way of life threaten their culture survival.

The Mongols are deeply embedded in the history of China, as seen in the Mongol Yuan Dynasty during the 13th century and the close alliance (p.88) between the Mongols and the ruling Manchus during the last Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). Although Mongolia declared its independence and has remained independent since 1912, Inner Mongolia has been deeply integrated into China. In contrast to the situations in Tibet and Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia is not featured much in international media, and the Mongols have not launched significant national identity contestation movements in recent decades; the one big political mobilization in Inner Mongolia was a student movement that occurred in 1981.1 Most recently, in May 2011 ethnic Mongols organized a series of protests against the Chinese government’s grazing ban policies.2 This movement, even though quickly suppressed by the Chinese state, had as its primary goal the protection of the Mongols’ traditional habitat and livelihood and did not possess ostensibly nationalist overtones. Indeed, one can argue that the Mongols in Inner Mongolia have done little to contest the PRC’s sovereignty over Inner Mongolia in the recent past. As Uradyn Bulag comments, “[The] Mongols apparently exhibit no such independent spirit...the Mongols aspire not only to maintain an ethnic political entity but also to live as normal citizens of the Chinese state.”3

This chapter argues that the lack of a consistent movement for national identity contestation among the Mongols can be explained by a confluence of international factors. In particular, Mongolia, as the external kin state for the Mongols in China, plays an important role in this regard. Mongolia became a democracy following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it has lagged far behind the PRC economically, particularly in recent decades. Thus, comparatively speaking, many Mongols in China perceive a better political and cultural life in Mongolia but an economically better life in China. In the meantime, despite the existence of a small diaspora community that pushes for self-determination for Inner Mongolia, the Mongols in China have not received substantial external support in recent history. In fact, Inner Mongolia’s national identity contestation movement peaked in the early half of the 20th century, particularly with the support of imperial Japan. But since the end of World War II, consistent external support for the Mongols’ cause has not materialized. As a result of these factors, ethnic Mongols remain ambiguous toward Chinese national identity, as they demonstrate concerns for cultural autonomy while assimilation is also gaining speed.

This chapter first provides a historical review of the Mongols, with special attention paid to the political history of Inner Mongolia since the PRC was founded. It then recounts a detailed portrayal of the current situation in Inner Mongolia and the challenges faced by ordinary Mongols. Following that, it offers explanations for the lack of national identity contestation among the Mongols, with special attention paid to international factors.

(p.89) History of the Mongols in China and Modern Inner Mongolia

With the rise of Genghis Khan and his powerful army, the great Mongolian Empire was founded in 1206 and quickly expanded, conquering a huge land mass stretching from China to Europe. In 1260, Genghis Khan’s grandson Kublai Khan moved the capital to Dadu, a new city that would later be called Beijing, declaring himself the Son of Heaven and founding the Yuan Dynasty.4 The Yuan Dynasty lasted for a hundred years before giving way to the Ming Dynasty in 1368. The last Yuan emperor fled north, installing himself as the leader of the Northern Yuan Dynasty. The Northern Yuan Dynasty lasted until 1635, when Ligdan Khan’s son submitted to the Manchu Khan Abahai (Huang Taiji), who declared himself emperor and founded the Manchu Qing Dynasty.5

The Qing Dynasty, despite its Manchu core, maintained a strong alliance with the Mongols, especially the Horchin and Harchin tribes of eastern Inner Mongolia.6 Through intermarriages between Manchu royal family members, the Mongol aristocracy enjoyed high status during the Qing Dynasty, especially in the military establishment.7 The Manchu court introduced a new administrative system to divide and rule the Mongols. The territorial division of Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia (Mongolia today) was a clear political distinction made by the ruling Manchu court. Previously understood as simply geographical difference, the Manchu court started to institutionally entrench this division.8

Qing also prohibited the cultivation of Mongol lands and banned immigration of Han Chinese as a way of maintaining the area as a military reserve.9 In the mid-19th century, however, the Qing Dynasty was defeated by the British in the First Opium War (1839–1842) and by the Anglo-French army in the Second Opium War (1857–1860). At the same time, the Qing suffered greatly from the traumatic Taiping rebellion in the South, and faced constant incursions from Tsarist Russia in the North. All of these pressures resulted in the Qing court switching its previous policy, and opening up the Mongol land for immigration and cultivation by the Han Chinese.10 As a result, millions of Han Chinese flowed into the newly opened Mongol lands. These immigrations dramatically changed the demographic composition of Inner Mongolia; because of its geographic proximity to China proper, the changes have enormous implications even to this day.

In 1911, the Qing Dynasty collapsed. Revolutionary anti-Manchu forces gained power in China proper, leading the Mongol nobles and religious leaders in Outer Mongolia to seize the opportunity to expel the Manchus nd Han Chinese from their territory, and declared the independence of Outer Mongolia (later named the Mongolia People’s Republic). Inner Mongolia, on the other hand, because of its geographic proximity to Beijing and its nobles’ close ties with the Manchu court, remained under China’s influence, caught between Japanese expansion in the area and the power struggles between the KMT and the CCP.

(p.90) The situation of Inner Mongolia during the Republican era was extremely complex. Different Mongol elites emerged during this period to champion the cause of Inner Mongolian autonomy. Some, such as Prince Gungsangnorbu,11 Bai Yunti, and Li Shouxin, aligned with the KMT and the Republican government. Prince Demchugdungrub (Prince De),12 by contrast, sought support from the Japanese for Inner Mongolia autonomy. There were also people such as Ulanhu (Yun Ze)13 who joined the communist camp and sought revolution in Inner Mongolia. In the end, the interethnic alliance between the Ulanhu force and the CCP emerged victorious. On May 1, 1947, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Government was established with Ulanhu as the president.

The founding of the IMAR, even before the establishment of the PRC, was significant because it furnished a model for the CCP for addressing ethnic minority issues in the peripheral areas of China and creating the legitimacy needed to achieve the unification of territories since the collapse of the Qing Dynasty. However, the IMAR was soon challenged by both the demographic imbalance between the Han Chinese and the Mongols, which by 1949 was already five to one, and also the contradictions between agrarian and pastoral modes of production.

When Western commentators talk about China’s economic and political strategies toward various ethnic minority regions, Michael Hechter’s term “internal colonialism” is often applied to describe the division of ethnicity and class, and domination and resistance, between the majority Han Chinese and the ethnic minorities.14 But the situation in IMAR at the time of its founding defied such a strict application. As Uradyn Bulag notes, “colonialism presupposes the clear-cut (ethnic) identity of the colonial self vis-à-vis a colonized other, the (political-economic) domination of a subaltern by a ruling elite, as well as the confluence of these processes.”15 However, such divisions of ethnicity and class did not correspond very well at the time. The majority of the Han Chinese were desperate peasants who had fled from famine and warfare in China proper into Inner Mongolia for almost a century. They rented land and worked for various Mongol lords, who owned vast territories of pasture lands. Here we have a paradox: on the one hand, the establishment of the IMAR was a result of the Mongols’ aspiration to achieve self rule from the domination of the previous ROC overnment and various warlords, but on the other hand Han Chinese peasants demanded “revolutionary justice” from their exploitative Mongol lords.16 This contradiction between the principle of ethnic self-determination and class emancipation characterizes the nature of political development of the IMAR in the early years after 1949 as well as during the subsequent political movements and violence that occurred during the Cultural Revolution.

(p.91) As the paramount leader of IMAR, Ulanhu had to serve two separate “constituencies.” He was the first secretary of the IMAR Party Committee, commander and political commissar of the Inner Mongolia Military Region, and the chairman of the IMAR. Furthermore, he was a member of the Standing Committee of China’s Political Consultative Conference and deputy commissioner of the Nationality Affairs Commission, and he was also elected as vice-premier of the State Council in 1954 and became an alternate member of the Politburo—the only ethnic minority in the highest power organ of the CCP.17 Thus he had to tread two different lines and balance the intricate role assigned to him as both a Mongol nationalist and a communist, which proved quite difficult. He managed to tailor central policy guidelines toward the special circumstances of Inner Mongolia and the particular mode of production in pastoral communities. In agrarian areas, where the pressure for land reform was the most intense, the official IMAR policy guideline was to struggle against Han Chinese landlords first and Mongol landlords second. Also, during the struggle sessions against Mongol landlords, primary participants should have been Mongols so as to avoid perceptions of interethnic animosity. Moreover, in terms of land redistribution, Mongol peasants were to receive 10–20 percent more land than their Han Chinese counterparts.18 In pastoral areas, Ulanhu demanded that the experiences from agricultural areas should not be applied.19

However, Ulanhu’s preferential treatment of the Mongols inevitably drew criticism from people, especially the Han Chinese cadres in the IMAR. In their eyes, what Ulanhu was doing was local nationalism, and the interests of the majority (the Han Chinese) were ignored. During the Anti-Rightist Movement, half of the Inner Mongolia Communist Party Committee was purged. Although Ulanhu himself was too powerful to be directly denounced, he “could not prevent his critics from beginning to argue for the need to combat local nationalism, and from accusing cadres of minority nationalities, particularly Mongolians, on these grounds.”20 However, it was the Cultural Revolution that brought an end to Ulanhu’s balancing act between the IMAR and the central government. It also caused great havoc and even ethnic violence in Inner Mongolia. During the Cultural Revolution, Ulanhu was officially accused of being anti-Party, nti-socialist, and anti-Mao, and of actively promoting ethnic separatism. As a result, most of his official positions were removed.21 On November 1, 1967, the Inner Mongolia Revolutionary Committee was formed under the leadership of General Teng Haiqing and started a series of movements to purge Ulanhu’s supporters. Teng accused Ulanhu and his supporters of organizing a new Inner Mongolian People’s Party (neirendang), with the aim of splitting Inner Mongolia from China to merge with the MPR.22 During the anti-neirendang movement, torture and extreme measures were used to extract confessions from suspects, and a vast number of people, mostly Mongols, were killed or seriously injured. According to the official recounting in 1979, 346,000 people were labeled as neirendang members, with 16,222 killed, 120,000 injured—many of them crippled—and more than one million affected to varying degrees.23 According to unofficial statistics, about 100,000 people died either directly or indirectly from the anti-neirendang movement, and between 350,000 and 500,000 people were arrested.24 The neirendang incident and the associated ethnic cleansing left a great scar on the Mongols and created resentment and even hatred on the part of many Mongols toward the Han Chinese, who were blamed for their suffering.

(p.92) As the revolutionary frenzy and Maoist radicalism faded, Ulanhu was rehabilitated in 1973, and in 1977 he once again became a Politburo member. In 1978 the CCP Central Committee issued several documents declaring that the neirendang never existed, and that all the accusations against Ulanhu and other inflicted parties committed during the Cultural Revolution were false and fabricated. At the same time, the CCP Central Committee acknowledged the achievements made in the IMAR when Ulanhu was still in power, and it issued guidelines on how to rehabilitate and compensate those who suffered during the Cultural Revolution.25

In 1980, Hu Yaobang issued Article 31 to specifically address the problems in Tibet and called for stricter control of Han Chinese immigration to Tibet. In 1982, Hu issued Article 28 for Inner Mongolia, but it did not address the immigration-related problems in the area—and even encouraged them by saying IMAR should settle those Han Chinese immigrants who had flocked to the IMAR during the Cultural Revolution.26 The issuance of Article 28 caused a great stir among the Mongols in the IMAR, who were particularly disappointed that no genuine measures were taken to promote autonomy in the region. In universities, students were outraged and mobilized to demand that the regional government reconsider Article 28.

On September 13, 1981, more than 3,000 students marched in downtown Hohhot, the capital city of IMAR, distributing leaflets that criticized rticle 28 and demanding a stop to Han Chinese immigration to IMAR for the protection of the Mongols’ interests.27 Students picketed and besieged the IMAR government. They also sent representatives to petition the central government in Beijing. But their petitions were simply rejected. Once Beijing’s response became clear, the students did not know how to respond and merely returned to school. Later, the party secretary of IMAR, Zhou Hui, made a public speech clarifying the issues relating to Article 28 and promised that students involved would not be punished.28 This student movement in 1981 was a rare large-scale movement in the IMAR demanding more cultural autonomy and rights from the Chinese government, which William Jankowiak dubbed as the “last hurrah.”

(p.93) Resistance and Assimilation in Inner Mongolia

Since the student movement in Hohhot in 1981, there have not been many large political movements in Inner Mongolia on a similar scales to Tibet or Xinjiang. In contrast to the situations in Tibet and Xinjiang, the Mongols in Inner Mongolia have not made much noise in terms of contesting the PRC’s sovereignty over Inner Mongolia or mobilizing en masse to contest their Chinese national identity, despite the more recent protest movement in May 2011 (more on this later). Indeed, economic and cultural concerns of the Mongols in Inner Mongolia are currently the most pressing, rather than grand strategies for self-determination. Two interrelated issues are the most prominent in the Mongols’ ongoing negotiation between their ethnic identity and national identity and their struggle against the challenges posed by globalization and market economic integration. The first is the diminishing space available for the traditional pastoral way of life. The second is the threat of fast-paced sinification and assimilation among the Mongols, especially the younger generation.

Environmental Degradation and the Diminishing Pastoral Way of Life

Every spring, northern China experiences severe sandstorms, which are often blamed on the rapid desertification taking place in the region. The rate of desertification in China was 1,560 square kilometers per year in the 1970s, but by the 1980s it increased to 2,100, and to a further 2,460 square kilometers per year by 1995 and 3,436 in 1999.29 This rapid increase is generally due to the degradation of rangeland, particularly in Inner Mongolia. Overgrazing is blamed for this degradation, and predominantly t is Mongol herdsmen in Inner Mongolia who are often singled out for their lack of “scientific” knowledge of rangeland management. As a result, the government began enacting laws to protect the rangelands in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including designing policies to ban grazing either for several months throughout the year or altogether. Furthermore, the government wants to have herding families raise their animals in stables, or to resettle families in urban areas. These policies have attracted complaints and resistance from herdsmen across the IMAR.30

(p.94) For example, in Da’erhan and Maomin’an Joint Banner of Baotou Municipality, the term of the grazing ban lasts for 10 years, and every year of the ban the banner government will compensate each household 4.8 yuan per mu.31 After 10 years, herdsmen can return, but during this time grazing will be totally banned. The government encourages herding families to relocate to a herding community area in the banner seat Bailingmiao, but the government subsidizes only 30,000 yuan of the purchase of the housing unit, while remaining costs are borne by the household. The government also allocates 20 mu of land for each household so they can raise their animals in an enclosed space, as well as giving people older than 60 a monthly pension of 200 yuan. The deadline set by the banner government was the end of May 2008, by which time the ban should have taken full effect. These policies were, however, considered inappropriate and unsatisfactory by most herding families, leading to complaints and resistance.

One of the most common complaints from Mongol herding families is about the inadequacy of the financial compensation because the amounts people would receive are generally less than their current incomes. That means the herding families necessarily suffer financially from this whole-scale grazing ban. People are also pessimistic about life in the relocated communities because many pastoral Mongols do not think they possess enough skills to survive in the urban job market; nor do they know how to transition from herding to farming. In addition, many Mongols complain about the hypocrisy of local governments concerning environmental protection. They often point out that although the government says they want to ban grazing in the name of protecting the environment, the government still allows and even encourages mining companies to invest in the rangeland, which poses a more serious threat to it than animal grazing.32 Indeed, conflicts between the mining industry and pastoral Mongols, together with the Mongols’ pent-up grievances regarding the grazing ban, led to a large-scale protest movement in Inner Mongolia in May 2011.

On May 10 of that year, a Mongol herdsman named Mergen in Right Ujumchi Banner, Shilinhot League, was killed when he tried to stop a convoy of coal trucks. Because Mergen was the organizer of local herdsmen rotesting coal miners’ destruction of grazing land, his death sparked great anger among the local Mongols. On May 23, hundreds of Mongol herdsmen organized a street protest against the killing. Two days later, thousands of Mongol students in Shilinhot League gathered in front of the league government building to urge the Chinese government to respect the rights and dignity of Mongols in Inner Mongolia. Such protests started spreading across Inner Mongolia, with hundreds of Mongols organizing a street demonstration in the regional capital of Hohhot despite the heavy security presence.33 Indeed, the scale of this Mongol protest movement was the largest since the student movement in 1981 and caused enormous worry in the Chinese government’s mind about stability in ethnic-minority regions, especially in the wake of the incidents in Tibet in 2008 and in Xinjiang 2009.

(p.95) The Chinese government’s tactics toward this rare Mongol protest movement were a mixture of suppression and conciliation. On one hand, a heavy security presence was imposed all over Inner Mongolia, and many protesters were detained. Universities were blocked to prevent students from going to demonstrations, while internet and social networks were either shut down or heavily censored. On the other hand, the IMAR CCP party chief, Hu Chunhua, also made public appearances, visiting Mongol university students and promising to punish those responsible for the killing. His deputies visited Mergen’s family and offered a large sum of money to compensate for his death. In addition, officials announced plans for free tuition and textbooks for Mongol high school and vocational students and US$680 million in spending to improve drinking water, transportation, and agriculture in Inner Mongolia.34 Thanks to this combination of suppression and conciliation, the protest movements slowly died down.

Mongols’ Struggle Against Sinification

The diminishing space for the Mongols’ pastoral culture and government policies aimed at restricting or even eliminating the pastoral way of life constitute an enormous assault on Mongols’ traditional cultural repertoire.35 However, only a minority of Mongols still lead this pastoral lifestyle. The majority have either switched to farming or long since moved to urban areas. Swamped in a sea of Han Chinese, the Mongols will not find it an easy task to keep their cultural integrity and resist assimilation.

When visiting any big city in the IMAR, such as Hohhot, one cannot fail to notice the ubiquitous Mongolian and Chinese bilingual street signs, present on all government buildings and most private businesses. Behind his façade of bilingualism, however, it is common knowledge that many urban Mongols, especially the younger generation, do not read or speak Mongolian at all. Despite the official recognition of the Mongols’ titular status in the IMAR and efforts by the government to show concern for multicultural diversity and sensitivity, it is undeniable that the Mongols in the IMAR are losing their cultural repertoire very quickly. We have seen the case of the diminishing pastoral Mongol society; the other more pressing issue facing the Mongols is how to deal with the intensifying assimilative forces coming from the Chinese society and the increasingly marketized economy. As Uradyn Bulag points out, “As more Mongols lose their language, arguably the last bastion of their ‘nationality’ status, they face the prospect of becoming a deinstitutionalized, depoliticized, and deterritorialized ‘ethnic group’ in a racialized ‘Chinese nation’.”36

(p.96) In the Language Usage Survey published by the National Language Commission in 2006,37 the percentage of Mongols within the sample who can speak the Han Chinese language is 71.38. Although the same survey reports that 75.52 percent of people interviewed can speak Mongolian as well, one has to point out that this uneasy balance of bilingualism among the Mongols is tilting more toward monolingual in favor of the Han Chinese language. For example, in two surveys conducted in four Mongol villages, one in 1996 and the other in 2005, Yamin Hao notes the declining rate of Mongols’ ability to speak Mongolian and their rising proficiency in speaking Han Chinese. Hao reports that there is a negative correlation between age and language capability, with younger people generally speaking less Mongolian and more Han Chinese than the older generation. There is also a negative correlation between education and language ability: better education leads to better Han Chinese language ability and worse Mongolian language ability.38 Hao’s findings confirm the general perception that the Mongolian language is fading quickly among the younger generation. Better education and thus more exposure to the Han Chinese environment—because Chinese is taught throughout IMAR schools—also leads to the same outcome: linguistic assimilation.

This trend toward linguistic assimilation can also been seen in reports on student enrollment in the IMAR and the number of Mongolian schools. There are three types of schools in IMAR: one in which Mongolian is used as the primary language of instruction, with Chinese taught as a separate subject (MC); a second in which Chinese is the primary language of instruction, with Mongolian taught as a separate subject (CM); and a third in which Chinese is used exclusively, with no Mongolian-language classes (CC). In 1980, the number of students enrolled in MC primary schools was 252,446; by 1995, the number changed to 241,675. During the same ixteen-year period the number of students in CM primary schools fell by nearly one-half, from 31,279 to 16,407. In total, the absolute number of students enrolled in Mongolian-language schools decreased by 25,643. However, controlling for population growth and expansion of the education system, the percentage of Mongol primary school students studying Mongolian decreased from 73.3 in 1980 to 49.6 in 1995. The same can be said about middle and high school enrollment. The absolute number of students decreased by 8,663, and the percentage dropped from 66.8 to 46.6. Meanwhile, with the drop in enrollment, the number of Mongolian schools, including both MC and CM, also experienced a dramatic drop. In 1980, there were 4,387 Mongolian primary schools, and in 1995 the number decreased to 2,978, a 32.1 percent decline. Similarly, in 1980, there were 501 Mongolian middle and high schools, and in 1995 the number was 359, a 28.3 percent decline. By 1995, half of the Mongol students in the IMAR went to Han Chinese schools. By the end of 2005, the percentage of Mongols enrolled in Mongolian schools was 38.2.39

(p.97) There are two main factors in the growing linguistic assimilation of the Mongols: government policies and economic interest. In the IMAR, choices for colleges and higher education for Mongolian-educated students are generally much fewer than for those educated in Chinese.40 Most Mongolian-educated students can apply to colleges and universities within the IMAR and as well as universities within China, but outside of the IMAR higher education institutions generally do not accept students who do not have a good command of the Chinese language.41 Even within the IMAR, many university programs do not accept or else restrict the number of students educated in Mongolian. Those students educated in Mongolian can choose only education, Mongolian medicine, agriculture and husbandry, and so on as their major, not more popular majors such as economics, law, engineering, and so forth.42

Related to these educational policies are also changes within the Chinese state-society relationship in general. Prior to the economic reforms, higher education institutions were controlled completely by the government. The government funded them and also set up quotas and targets that all universities were required to fulfill. During the 1980s, within the IMAR, the quota for minority students was set at 20–25 percent, and the quota set-aside specifically for Mongolian-educated students was 12 percent. However, since the higher education reforms of the mid-1990s, the government has started to cut its budget for universities, forcing them to find other sources of funding, one common method being to raise tuition and expand enrollment. Because of these changes, the quotas became less stringent and the percentage of students educated in Mongolian enrolled n universities dropped to 6.45 percent by 1994.43 Meanwhile, as university enrollment rose, so did the percentage of ethnic Han Chinese students. For example, at the Inner Mongolia University for Nationalities, which in 2006 was the institution that primarily trains ethnic minorities—especially Mongols—more than half of the student population was Han Chinese, while the percentage of Mongolian-educated students was only 24.44 The percentages of Mongol students in other “regular” IMAR universities are much lower. We can argue that Mongolian-language education has become more difficult to sustain in higher education, and its quality is also said to be declining.

(p.98) Furthermore, when economic policy was still based on central planning, the government was also responsible for allocating jobs to university graduates. Even if the jobs were not completely satisfactory, at least one didn’t need to worry too much about the prospect of postgraduate job market competition. However, since the 1990s with the quickening pace of market reform and the gradual retreat of the state from involvement in society and the economy, the government is no longer responsible for meting out jobs to university graduates. This change hit Mongolian-educated students the hardest, because they must compete head-on with Han Chinese students and other Han Chinese-educated Mongol students in a job market that predominantly favors people who have command of the Chinese language, and more than ever the same is true for English. So far, the government has not issued any legislation to guarantee, or at least provide a quota for, employment for these Mongolian-educated students, meaning that their prospects for employment after graduation remain dire.

Inner Mongolia has also been deeply integrated economically with the rest of China. Given that the Mongols are already an absolute minority within the IMAR, most businesses and trade are dominated by Han Chinese and require proficiency in Chinese. Everywhere in the IMAR, although shops might have Mongolian script written outside, the commodities sold are the same as those sold everywhere else in China and in most cases do not include bilingual packaging. Chinese-language programs also dominate modern media, such as TV and radio. Although there are a few Mongolian-language TV channels in the IMAR, the programs are usually very dull and many are simply Chinese-language TV shows dubbed in Mongolian. An even more worrying case is the internet. Most online games are in either English or Chinese, thus requiring young people to learn Chinese in order to have fun and be accepted by peers. In addition, Han Chinese stars from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the mainland dominate pop culture. Although there are many popular Mongolian singers, they also sing in Chinese.

(p.99) Because of these government policy changes and the inadequacy of current government legislation in protecting the use of the Mongolian language in the job market, the decline in popularity of the Mongolian language has become an economic issue. Given that the Mongolian language does not bring good educational prospects or employment opportunities, and the entire society is dominated by the use of the Chinese language, it is little wonder that more and more Mongol families send their children to Han Chinese schools. As Naran Bilik points out:

With business booming and spreading from metropolitan areas into remote areas, a language hierarchy is forming in Inner Mongolian region, whereby English or some other foreign language ranks at the top, Chinese comes second and Mongolian at the bottom. It is a long-standing view among the Mongols, especially intellectuals, that knowing Mongolian, Chinese and a major foreign language has different implications for social advancement or achievement: i.e. Mongolian is mainly used in local areas and for much less challenging public and private functions like ethnic symbolism and family chat; Chinese is the omnipotent medium across the country for political promotion and economic procurement; whereas foreign languages represented by English are for top ranking accomplishments all around the world.45

In this way, the Mongolian-language situation mirrors what David Laitin describes in his study of Russian-speaking population in post-Soviet republics. In the Identity in Formation, Laitin explains how a language change cascade can occur when people perceive it as being in their interest to learn a language and see people around them doing the same.46 If Laitin’s assessment is correct, we can predict that the Mongols in Inner Mongolia will perhaps lose their language repertoire and be assimilated, at least linguistically, by the Han Chinese in the not too distant future.

External Factors and Mongols’ National Identity Ambiguity

In Inner Mongolia, ethnic Mongols have not exhibited a consistent willingness to contest the Chinese national identity. Although the Chinese government’s policies toward their pastoral practices have caused great discontent among the Mongols, leading to an eruption of anger in the May 2011 protest movements in the IMAR, the Mongols’ complaints are still predominantly about issues related to their traditional habitat and livelihood rather than ethnonationalist aspirations. Great concerns about their cultural autonomy notwithstanding, the trend toward linguistic ssimilation into the majority Han Chinese society is nonetheless gaining speed. To explain ethnic Mongols’ perplexity, we should look at a set of external factors. The first is a comparison of general living conditions in Inner Mongolia and Mongolia, the latter being the external kin state for the Mongols in China. The second is the extent to which external supports are available for the Mongols’ cause.

(p.100) Comparison with Mongolia

When the Qing Empire collapsed in 1911, Outer Mongolia took the opportunity to declare independence by setting up a theocratic state with the Eighth Jebtsundamba Hutagt as its monarch. However, in 1915 the Outer Mongols were forced to sign a treaty with the ROC government to secure their “autonomy” after numerous rounds of negotiations among the Russians, the Mongols, and the ROC government. In 1921, Outer Mongolia would declare independence again, finally proclaiming the founding of the Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR) in 1924.47 Since its independence, the MPR was effectively incorporated into the Soviet Empire and remained a Soviet satellite state until 1991. It was through the 1946 Yalta Agreement that the ROC government finally recognized the MPR’s independence. The MPR maintained a cordial relationship with Beijing in the early years following the founding of the PRC; this was due to similar communist ideologies and a feeling of fraternity among the PRC, MPR, and USSR. However, after the Sino-Soviet split in 1960, MPR joined the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) and aligned itself very closely with the Soviet Union. As a result, the MPR-PRC relationship was hostile and frozen for nearly 20 years. It was Gorbachev’s announcement in Vladivostok of the partial withdrawal of Soviet troops from Mongolian territory in July 1986 that signaled the normalization of relations between the MPR and PRC.48

During Soviet times, MPR was heavily dependent on its northern neighbor, and its economy relied just as heavily on massive Soviet loans and aid.49 The collapse of the Soviet Union was thus tremendously painful for Mongolia. As a landlocked country sandwiched between Russia and China, Mongolia had little alternative but to look south for economic support. This also coincided with the acceleration of Chinese economic growth in the early 1990s. As a result, the economic vacuum left by the departed Soviet Union was soon filled by China. Mongolia now exports most of its natural resources to China while China provides electronic appliances, agricultural products, textiles, and other daily necessities to Mongolia. Since 1999, China has been the largest trading partner of Mongolia, being its (p.101) largest destination for exports and the second largest source of its imports. Since 1998, China has remained the biggest investor in Mongolia, providing about half of Mongolia’s total foreign investment.50

Comparisons between Inner Mongolia and Mongolia yield a complicated picture. On the one hand, Mongolia has become a democracy since the collapse of the Soviet Union. So people in Mongolia enjoy more political rights and freedoms compared with their ethnic brethren in China. However, economically speaking, Mongols in China have fared relatively better because Mongolia to this day remains a poor and less developed country, while Inner Mongolia has enjoyed a higher level of economic development for the past few decades. In Table 5.1 are some data on PPP-adjusted GDP per capita of Mongolia and China between 1981 and 2007. As we can see from the table, Mongolia’s economy since the 1980s has been stagnant, and its GDP growth rate is low and during the past three decades, despite recent boom in its mining industry. On the other hand, China has experienced fast economic development. By 2007, China’s PPP-adjusted GDP per capita had already surpassed that of Mongolia’s. The same can also be said about Inner Mongolia. In 2007 its PPP-adjusted GDP per capita exceeded China’s national average and was already more than double that of Mongolia.51

The disparities in level of economic development between Mongolia and Inner Mongolia are reflected in Inner Mongols’ perception of differences in economic well-being between the two. For example, as Wurlig Borchigud reports, “most Inner Mongolia urban Mongols have come to realize that their own regional economy is much better than Outer Mongolia’s. Because of their regional economic perspective, an increasing number of urban Mongols in inner Mongolia hold a more flexible attitude toward both local Inner Mongolian regional identities.”52 To analyze how ethnic Mongols in China perceive Mongolia, I distributed a questionnaire in May 2008 among 100 Mongol students at a university in Inner Mongolia. Half (p.102) were Mongolian-educated and the other half were Chinese-educated. The differences in schooling allow me to see the effects that language of education can have on issues related to one’s viewpoint on various issues. In the questionnaire, there was an open-ended item asking students to identify differences between Mongolia and China. For example, many Mongol students would point out that the environment is better in Mongolia, or that Mongolian culture is better protected in Mongolia, but 48 of the 63 respondents who answered the question said economic development was faster in China than in Mongolia. Thus three-quarters of Mongol students interviewed pointed out the economic differences between Mongolia and China in comparing the two countries. Another question asked them to rate their level of satisfaction with life; more than 70 percent of these students selected “satisfied” or “relatively satisfied” (see Table 5.2).

Another question asked students where they would want their kids, if they plan to have them, to grow up in the future (see Table 5.3), the idea being to gauge people’s perception of the future. More than half picked China, while 30 percent picked other countries, and only 17 percent picked Mongolia. Therefore, from the results collected, although it is not necessarily a representative sample, ethnic Mongols generally perceive relatively better living conditions in Inner Mongolia compared with their external kin state. Such comparisons thus demonstrate that the Mongols in China do (p.103) not necessarily perceive the existence of a better alternative in Mongolia, which in return perpetuates their ambivalence toward China.

Lack of External Support

The lack of a clear, better alternative notwithstanding, external support for the Mongols in China also has not materialized in the recent past. Indeed, external support, particularly from Japan, proved crucial for the Inner Mongolia autonomy movements during the 1930s and 1940s. However, after Japan’s defeat in World War II, no external support has managed to exert influence on the Mongols in China.

As we have seen, Outer Mongolia took the opportunity to declare independence after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty. But from its relative weakness, Outer Mongolia could not maintain its independence without the support of Tsarist Russia and later the Soviet Union.53 Although the MPR was able to solidify its independence with Russia’s backing, Inner Mongolia and its self-determination movements were less fortunate. Only with the support of imperial Japan did Inner Mongolia manage to set up a series of autonomous governments under the leadership of Prince De from the 1930s until the end of World War II.

The Japanese colonial discourse during its expansion into Northeast Asia emphasized the supposed racial ties among the Japanese, the Koreans, the Manchus, and the Mongols.54 In the case of the Mongols, Japan even went so far as to claim Genghis Khan as a Japanese hero so as to legitimize the country’s colonial expansion, on the belief that the Mongols were crucial to its imperial project.55 Accordingly, Japan found in Prince De an ideal candidate to gain the cooperation of the Mongols for its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Responding to political pressure on Inner Mongolia,56 in October 1933 the prince organized a conference at Beyile-Yin Sumu (balingmiao) calling for Inner Mongolian autonomy. Later, in April 1934, he formed a Mongolian Local Autonomous Political Affairs Council (mengzhenghui) and sent a list of demands to Chiang Kai-shek.57 However, given the weakness of the Mongols, this first attempt at Mongolian autonomy failed. As a result, Prince De was pushed to seek assistance from the invading Japanese army in Manchuria. Supported by the Special Service Offices of the Japanese Kwantung Army and Japan’s Good Neighbor Association (zenrin kyokai), the prince managed to set up a Mongolian Military Government (menggujunzhengfu) on May 12, 1936.58 In November 1937, the Japanese put him in charge of the newly formed Mongolian Allied League Autonomous overnment (mengjiang).59 A series of Inner Mongolia autonomous governments followed, while the Japanese played the role of “supreme advisors.” However, when the Japanese were defeated in 1945, the prince’s Mongolian autonomous government immediately collapsed. By then, he had administered Inner Mongolia for almost 10 years, despite the Japanese occupation.60 After the PRC’s founding in 1949, Prince De fled to Ulaanbaatar, but the leadership of the MPR soon extradited him back to China owing to the alliance between the Soviet Union and the new communist regime in Beijing. The Inner Mongolia self-determination movements that he led exemplified the peak of Inner Mongolian nationalism.61 On account of the weakness of the Mongols, their chance to achieve political autonomy depended heavily on the amount of external support they could find. Yet the support from Japan during the 1930s and 1940s proved to be the only time a big power was willing to help Inner Mongolia’s cause, despite Japan’s own imperial motives.

(p.104) Since the founding of the PRC, Inner Mongolia has not enjoyed much support from its external kin state, Mongolia.62 During the 1950s, because of the friendly relationship between China and the USSR, the MPR and China had a cordial diplomatic relationship. China recognized Mongolia’s independence in a joint communiqué following the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance in 1950.63 In return, China also provided aid to the MPR, and trade and exchanges between the two sides were frequent.64 After the Sino-Soviet split, the MPR adopted a more hostile foreign policy toward China and started to attack its ethnic minority policies, particularly regarding Inner Mongolia. Despite Mongolia being the external kin state for the Mongols in China, the MPR’s prior concern at the time was protecting its own independence against any possible Chinese aggression rather than extending support to Inner Mongolia.65 This perhaps has to do with there being more ethnic Mongols living in China than in the MPR,66 and there was always a concern among many people in the MPR of being outnumbered by their brethren to the south. Furthermore, the construction of national identity in the MPR had followed a different trajectory. Rather than promoting pan-Mongolianism, the MPR based its national identity on the Halh Mongols, the dominant tribe in the country,67 thus excluding Mongols outside the MPR from consideration as proper and pure Mongols.68 Since the collapse of the USSR, Mongolia has suffered significant economic hardship thanks to the loss of Soviet aid, and China has stepped in to fill the vacuum, creating a high level of economic interdependence between China and Mongolia. As with the case of the Central Asian republics discussed earlier in the Xinjiang chapter, Mongolia has less political leeway or capacity to support the Inner Mongols’ political aspirations, even if it wanted to.

(p.105) Finally, the Inner Mongolian diaspora community is also less powerful and not particularly visible internationally. It is indeed difficult to determine exactly why the Mongol diaspora community is not politically active.69 There are a couple of diaspora organizations that claim to represent the Mongols in Inner Mongolia, the most prominent of which is the Inner Mongolian People’s Party (IMPP); another is the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC).70 These groups organize campaigns and protests every year, but their activities are small-scale and lack visibility compared with those in the Tibetan and Uyghur cases. As a result, the Inner Mongol diaspora community has less capacity to politicize its cause or gather enough support from its host states.

Ambiguities of Ethnic and National Identity

In an article tracing the development of Inner Mongolian identity, Wurlig Borchigud argues that Inner Mongols have progressively linked their ethnic identity to Chinese national identity.71 In Uradyn Bulag’s analysis of Inner Mongols’ resistance to the Chinese state, he points out that the concept of Chinese state sovereignty over the Mongols has been accepted, and they have not “questioned the state’s legitimacy in ruling the Mongols, only its method of rule.”72 Colin Mackerras also states his opinion on Inner Mongolia, that “Mongolian ethnic consciousness there is not particularly strong. It has been, with some variations at particular times, in long-term decline since the early years of the twentieth century.”73 These evaluations of the Inner Mongolian identity question and the relationship between Inner Mongolia and China are also confirmed by my own questionnaire among the Mongol university students (see Table 5.4).

In one question, the students were asked to select the statement they most agreed with: (1) Mongols are part of the multiethnic Chinese nation, (2) Mongols are Chinese citizens, (3) Mongols are part of the Mongolian nation, or (4) All of the above. As we can see from their responses in Table 5.4, 40 of the students picked a more nationalistic choice—that Mongols are part of the Mongolian nation—but 35 chose the multiethnic Chinese identity, 1 favored Chinese citizenship, and 11 were ambivalent about the identity question because they equate Mongolian national identity with Chinese national identity. Thus we can see that more than half of the students in the questionnaire accept the notion that, in one way or another, Inner Mongols are part of the Chinese nation. And if we break the results down according to language of education, we can tell there is a statistically significant difference between language of education and (p.106) choice of identity (the Pearson’s r for the chi square test is significant at the 0.01 level): students who are educated in Chinese are much more likely to pick the multiethnic Chinese national identity than are their Mongolian-educated counterparts. Given our earlier discussion of the education trend in Inner Mongolia, with more than half of Mongol students already educated in Chinese schools and that number quickly increasing, our questionnaire would tell us that the overall trend for identification with the Chinese nation among the Inner Mongols is quite strong.

Another question addressing the identity issue asked these Mongol university students to pick which team they would support at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games: (1) the Chinese national team, (2) the Mongolian national team, or (3) both countries. We can see from Table 5.5 that the largest number, 43, picked both, while 34 chose China, and only 10 selected Mongolia. The same can be said about the relationship between language of education and choice of country for support; it is statistically significant at the 0.01 level as well.


Since the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, Inner Mongolia has been securely incorporated into China. The great suffering the Mongols experienced during the politically frantic Mao era planted seeds of deep division between the Mongols and the majority Han Chinese. In recent years, however, those (p.107) memories have gradually receded. Faced with challenges to change their traditional pastoral way of life and the tremendous pressure of sinification, the overall resistance of the Mongols is, at best, restricted within local boundaries, if there has not already been political acquiescence at the individual level. So far, there have not been any major groups or movements mobilizing to contest the Chinese national identity. Even during the most recent protest movement in Inner Mongolia, grievances were mainly over the government’s policies toward the Mongols’ pastoral culture rather than being ethnonationalist in tone. Even though ethnic Mongols harbor significant discontent about their cultural survival and diminishing pastoral way of life, discontent has not translated into fervor to contest the Chinese national identity, at least not yet.

This chapter points out that the case of Inner Mongolia fits overall the theoretical framework identified in the introductory chapter. Our theoretical hypothesis claims that if members of an ethnic group perceive their external kin as enjoying better living conditions and opportunities than themselves, then they are very likely to feel dissatisfied about their lives and demand improvements in their economic well-being. However, if the opposite rings true—if the ethnic group’s living conditions are better than those of their external kin—then group members are more likely to feel content about their incorporation into the current state. Furthermore, if no external support is available, then there are neither opportunities nor resources that members of the ethnic group can use to their advantage. As we have seen in the case of Inner Mongolia, as a group with economically inferior external kin, and without explicit external support, the Mongols remain ambiguous toward their Chinese national identity.


(1.) William R. Jankowiak, “The Last Hurrah? Political Protest in Inner Mongolia,” Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, no. 19/20 (1988).

(3.) Uradyn E. Bulag, “Inner Mongolia: The Dialectics of Colonialization and Ethnicity Building,” in Governing China’s Multiethnic Frontiers, ed. Morris Rossabi (Seattle: University of Washington Press 2004), pp. 84–85.

(4.) Weimin Hao, Qimudedaoerji, General History of Inner Mongolia (neimenggu tongshi gangyao) (Beijing: People’s Press, 2006), chap. 2.

(5.) David Sneath, Changing Inner Mongolia: Pastoral Mongolian Society and the Chinese State (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 8.

(6.) The Mongols are traditionally divided along tribal lines. For example, the independent country Mongolia is primarily composed of the Halh tribe, and in Inner Mongolia there are Horchin, Harchin, Chahar, Bagar, etc.

(7.) Sneath, Changing Inner Mongolia, p. 8.The Manchu court was also an important patron of the yellow-hat (Gelug-pa) sect of Tibetan Buddhism, which was prominent among the Mongols. Intending to pacify the militant Mongols, the Qianlong emperor created a doctrine of “promoting yellow religion to pacify all Mongol tribes (xinghuangjiao, jisuoyi anzhongmenggu).” With the popularity of Tibetan Buddhism, Mongol society underwent tremendous change, becoming less “militant” and more “peace-loving.” Also, large numbers of males went to monasteries to become lamas, which had great consequence for the Mongols’ population growth. See for example Sechin Jagchid’s discussion of the history of Buddhism in Mongolia. Jagchid, Essays in Mongolian Studies (Provo, UT: David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, Brigham Young University, 1988), pp. 136–37.

(8.) Inner Mongolia was the term given to include areas close enough to Beijing to be ruled directly through the Lifanyuan (the Court of Dependencies), while Outer Mongolia, owing to its distance from the capital, was to be ruled indirectly via the military governor of Urga (Ulaanbaatar today), Uliasutai, and Khobdo. Also, Outer Mongolia was allowed to have its own unified Buddhist organization under the various reincarnations of Jetsundamba Hutagt, while in Inner Mongolia the Qing court directly controlled the Buddhist temples by placing them under the imperial teacher Janjiya Hutagt. See Bulag, “Inner Mongolia,” p. 86.

(9.) Jagchid, Essays in Mongolian Studies, p. 87.

(10.) On the one hand, this effort encouraged cultivation of more lands and helped pay for the war retribution demanded by the English and French imperial powers. On the other, it strengthened the northern border against Russia by populating the area with Han Chinese migrants.

(11.) Prince Gungsangnorbu was the prince of Kharachin. His domain was located right outside the Great Wall and was thus very close to Beijing, both geographically and politically. After the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, despite his initial resistance to the abdication of the Qing emperor, Prince Gung was brought into the new Republican government of Yuan Shikai as the director of the Tibetan Mongolian Affairs Bureau (mengzang shiwuju) and later was also appointed as a member of the governing committee of the KMT.

(12.) Prince Demchugdungrub was born in Sunid Right Flank Banner of Shilingol League in 1902. His father was the Jasak of Sunid Right Flank Banner and also a descendent of Genghis Khan’s Borgchid family line, which legitimized the prince in the eyes of many of his followers of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Movement. In October 1933, Prince De organized a conference at Beyile-Yin Sumu (Balingmiao) calling for Inner Mongolia autonomy. Later he was also involved in the Japanese-supported Mengjiang regime. See Sechin Jagchid, The Last Mongol Prince: The Life and Times of Demchugdongrob, 1902–1966, Studies on East Asia (Bellingham: Center for East Asian Studies, Western Washington University, 1999).

(13.) Ulanhu was born into a sinicized Tumed Mongol family outside of Hohhot in 1906. He graduated from the Mongolian Tibetan Academy in Beijing, and in 1925 he became a CCP member. In 1941, he joined the CCP base in Yan’an and soon became directly involved with the CCP’s strategies to win over various ethnic minorities in its power struggle with the KMT. By 1945, Ulanhu emerged as an alternative member of the CCP Central Committee. In 1947 he became the chairman of the newly founded IMAR. For a good account of Ulanhu’s involvement in the CCP, see Liu, Reins of Liberation.

(14.) Barry Sautman, “Is Xinjiang an ‘Internal Colony’?” Inner Asia 2, no. 2 (2000).

(15.) Uradyn E. Bulag, “From Inequality to Difference: Colonial Contradictions of Class and Ethnicity in ‘Socialist’ China,” Cultural Studies 14, no. 3/4 (2000), p. 532.

(17.) Uradyn Erden Bulag, The Mongols at China’s Edge: History and the Politics of National Unity, World Social Change (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), p. 223.

(18.) Hao and Qimudedaoerji, General History of Inner Mongolia, p. 571.

(19.) Except for the princes, noblemen, and high lamas, the idea was not to draw clear class lines. He also promoted the policy of “Three Nos and Two Benefits,” that is, “no struggle, no redistribution, no class labeling, and mutual benefits for herdsmen and herds lords.” Further, there was no effort to collectivize property, since he herds remained the property of their owners but were to be herded jointly by the members of the community. Sneath, Changing Inner Mongolia, p. 70.

(20.) Ibid., pp. 76–77.

(21.) Ulanhu managed to retain his position as the chairman of the IMAR, alternate member of the Politburo, and vice-premier of the State Council until 1967. Fortunately, he was not physically harmed during the Cultural Revolution because he was protected by the military, first in Beijing and later in Hunan province. Bulag, The Mongols at China’s Edge, p. 227.

(22.) Sneath, Changing Inner Mongolia, pp. 110–11.

(23.) Hao and Qimudedaoerji, General History of Inner Mongolia, p. 610.

(24.) Jankowiak, “The Last Hurrah?” p. 276.

(25.) Sneath, Changing Inner Mongolia, p. 127.

(26.) In Mao’aohai’s autobiography, he provides a good critique of Article 28. The main points of the Article 28 are that (1) the center is satisfied with the work in the IMAR, and it needs to work harder on economic development; (2) the IMAR should compete with MPR and outperform the latter in economic development; (3) the IMAR should improve its economic development; (4) in 10 years, the IMAR should have more than 100 million herding animals; (5) immigrants moving to the IMAR should not be stopped, but instead they should be settled well; and (6) for government jobs, in Han Chinese-majority areas Han Chinese should be preferred, while in Mongol-majority areas the Mongols should be preferred. Mao’aohai, Life as a Dream—a Memoir (menghuanrensheng—huiyilu) (Hong Kong: Tianma Books, 2003), pp. 261–66.

(27.) The main demands made by the students were (1) save our motherland; (2) stop the immigration of Han Chinese; (3) promote minority population interests by increasing the quota of minority students from 25 percent to 90 percent; (4) increase the proportion of Mongol officials; (5) in the future, only Han Chinese experts should be allowed, for a short time, into the IMAR, and afterward they should leave; (6) the party secretary and the regional commander must be Mongol; and (7) return to Ulanhu’s policy of promoting livestock first. Jankowiak, “The Last Hurrah?” pp. 279–80.

(28.) The government’s reaction was in general quite restrained, and it punished only some student leaders and purged the supporters within the IMAR government and university administration.

(29.) Meizhen Liu, Gaoming Jiang, Linghao Li, Yonggeng Li, Leiming Gao, and Shuli Niu, “Control of Sandstorms in Inner Mongolia, China,” Environmental Conservation 31, no. 4 (2004), p. 269.

(30.) For an ethnographic account of the grazing ban in Inner Mongolia, see Enze Han, “The Dog That Hasn’t Barked: Assimilation and Resistance in Inner Mongolia, China,” Asian Ethnicity 12, no. 1 (2011).

(31.) 1 mu ≈ 0.165 acre, and 1 yuan ≈ US$0.143.

(32.) Interviews at Damao Banner.

(33.) Detailed events of this protest movement can be found on the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center’s website, www.smhric.org.

(34.) Andrew Jacobs, “Anger over Protesters’ Death Leads to Intensified Demonstrations by Mongolians,” New York Times, May 30 2011.

(35.) Almaz Khan, for example, talks about the political process of making pastoralism the symbol of the Mongols’ ethnic identity in China. Khan, “Who Are the Mongols? State, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Representation in the PRC,” in Negotiating thnicities in China and Taiwan, ed. Melissa J. Brown (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996).

(36.) Uradyn E. Bulag, “Mongolian Ethnicity and Linguistic Anxiety in China,” American Anthropologist 105, no. 4 (2003), p. 753.

(37.) PRC State Council Language Commission Language Usage Survey Office, China Language Usage Survey Data (Zhongguo Yuyan Wenzi Shiyong Qingkuang Diaocha Ziliao) (Beijing: Language Publishing Office, Yuwen Chuban She), 2006).

(38.) Yamin Hao, “The Current Situation and Changes in Language Usage among Rural Mongols—Using Village Surveys in City T of Inner Mongolia as an Example (xiangcun mengguzu yuyanshiyong xianzhuangyubianqian—yineimenggu tshi cunluodiaocha weili),” Journal of the Second Northwest University for Nationalities 82, no. 4 (2008).

(39.) Wulantuke, “The Most Prominent Problem in Minority Education in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Its Causes and Policy Recommendations (neimenggu zizhiqu minzujiaoyu zuituchude wenti, qichanshengyuanyin jiduice),” Minority Education Research 2 (1997), p. 12.

(40.) On Mongolian identity and higher education in the PRC, see Zhenzhou Zhao, China’s Mongols at University: Contesting Cultural Recognition (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010).

(41.) In recent years some top universities in China have started to enroll Mongolian-educated students, but some restrictions still apply. They usually recruit from top high schools in the IMAR, and Mongolian-educated students have to go through one year of prep school in Chinese to be fully enrolled in regular university courses, which means those students need five years instead of the usual four to finish university.

(42.) Wulantuke, “The Most Prominent Problem in Minority Education,” p. 13; Jing Li, “Current Situation of Inner Mongolia Minority Education and Policy Recommendations (neimenggu minzu jiaoyufazhan xianzhuang jiduice),” Heilongjiang Ethnic Studies Journal 95, no. 6 (2006), p. 108.

(43.) Wulantuke, “The Most Prominent Problem in Minority Education,” p. 13.

(44.) Ying Chen, “Current Situation of Minority Higher Education in Inner Mongolia and Policy Recommendations (neimenggu mengzu gaodengjiaoyu xianzhuangjifazhan duiceyanjiu)” (master’s thesis, Inner Mongolia University of Agriculture, 2008), p. 16.

(45.) Naran Bilik, “The Mongol-Han Relations in a New Configuration of Social Evolution,” Central Asian Survey 17, no. 1 (1998), p. 73.

(46.) David D. Laitin, Identity in Formation: The Russian-Speaking Populations in the near Abroad (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998).

(47.) Ibid., p. 37.

(48.) Sharad K. Soni, Mongolia-China Relations: Modern and Contemporary Times (New Delhi: Pentagon Press, 2006), p. 193.

(49.) Sergei Blagov, “Mongolia Drifts Away from Russia toward China,” China Brief, A Journal of the Jamestown Foundation 5, no. 10 (2005).

(50.) Nalin, “The Important Part of Mongolia-China Relationship—Economic and Trade Cooperation between Inner Mongolia and Mongolia (mengzhong jinmaoguanxide zhongyaobufen—neimenggu he mengguguode jinmaohezuo),” Bimonthly of Mongolia and Tibet Situations 17, no. 5 (2008), p. 37.

(51.) Ibid., p. 38.

(52.) Wurlig Borchigud, “Transgressing Ethnic and National Boundaries: Contemporary ‘Inner Mongolian’ Identities in China,” in Brown, ed., Negotiating Ethnicities in China and Taiwan, pp. 178–79.

(53.) For example, in 1945 the Soviet Union’s first condition for entering the war against Japan was for the Republic of China to accept the independence of the MPR, which led to the Chinese side agreeing on a plebiscite in October 1945. See Robert Arthur Rupen, How Mongolia Is Really Ruled: A Political History of the Mongolian People’s Republic, 1900–1978, Histories of Ruling Communist Parties (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, 1979), pp. 257–58.

(54.) Uradyn Erden Bulag, Collaborative Nationalism: The Politics of Friendship on China’s Mongolian Frontier, Asia/Pacific/Perspectives (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010), p. 41.

(55.) Stefan Tanaka, Japan’s Orient: Rendering Pasts into History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 88–93.

(56.) The KMT government passed a “Draft on the Organizational Law of the Mongolian Leagues, Tribes, and Banners” in 1930 that did not protect the feudalistic privileges of the Mongol ruling class. In 1931, the Manchurian Incident led to the Japanese occupation of Jehol province in what is now eastern Inner Mongolia. As a result, various Inner Mongol leaders were pressed to call for a united front to deal with Japanese aggression as well as a number of Chinese warlord governments. Jagchid, Essays in Mongolian Studies, p. 290.

(57.) Jagchid, The Last Mongol Prince, p. 101.

(58.) Ibid., p. 149.

(59.) Ibid., p. 189.

(60.) Ibid., p. 318.

(61.) Eventually, Ulanhu also managed to set up an autonomous region for Inner Mongolia. However, it was set up under the premise that it would be incorporated into the PRC.

(62.) Alternatively, one can argue that the Uyghurs do not have such a specific external kin state as the Mongols. Thus there is no “Outer Uyghurstan” for Xinjiang in the way that there is an Outer Mongolia and an Inner Mongolia. However, historically, there was the so-called division between Chinese Turkestan and Russian Turkestan, which essentially corresponds with the contemporary division between Xinjiang and the Central Asian Republics.

(63.) Elizabeth Green, “China and Mongolia: Recurring Trends and Prospects for Change,” Asian Survey 26, no. 12 (1986), p. 1145.

(64.) Rupen, How Mongolia Is Really Ruled, p. 183.

(65.) Green, “China and Mongolia,” p. 1151.

(66.) The total Mongol population in China is about 5.8 million, but Mongolia’s total population is only around 2 million.

(67.) As to the tribal divisions among the Mongols, in Mongolia, people are primarily of the Halh tribe. In Inner Mongolia, there are Horchin, Harchin, Chahar, Bagar, etc.

(68.) Uradyn Erden Bulag, Nationalism and Hybridity in Mongolia, Oxford Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology (Oxford and New York: Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press, 1998).

(69.) One obvious reason is the clear lack of prominent leadership, such as the Dalai Lama for the Tibetans. Prince De, the leader of the Inner Mongolia autonomous movements, unfortunately was extradited back to China in 1950 after his flight to Mongolia.

(70.) The IMPP was founded on March 23, 1997, in Princeton, New Jersey. According to its constitution, the guiding principles are that “The IMPP upholds the principles of democracy and peace in fighting to end the Chinese Communist Party’s colonial rule in Inner Mongolia.” Its ultimate goal is to achieve independence for Inner Mongolia, and the immediate goal is to establish a “confederated union with hina in the course of the future social development in China.” IMPP’s constitution can be accessed at www.innermongolia.org. The SMHRIC is an organization based in New York with the following principles: “To gather and distribute information concerning Southern (Inner) Mongolian human rights situation and general human rights issues; to promote and protect ethnic Mongolian’s all kinds of rights, such as basic human rights, indigenous rights, minority rights, civil rights, and political rights in Southern Mongolia; to encourage human rights and democracy grassroots movement in Southern Mongolia; to promote human rights and democracy education in Southern Mongolia; to improve the international community’s understanding of deteriorating human rights situations, worsening ethnic, cultural and environment problems in Southern Mongolia; and ultimately, to establish a democratic political system in Southern Mongolia.” SMHRIC’s mission state can be accessed at www.smhric.org.

(71.) Borchigud, “Transgressing Ethnic and National Boundaries,” p. 180.

(72.) Uradyn E. Bulag, “Ethnic Resistance with Socialist Characteristics,” in Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance, eds. Elizabeth Perry and Mark Selden (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 178.

(73.) Mackerras, China’s Minorities, p. 47.