Mongolia of the Present Day
When it comes to the Belt and Road initiative, the country of Mongolia is rarely mentioned by Government officials, in the press or with our business peers.
It seems very strange to me that, a country sandwiched between China and Russia is not playing a more significant role in the Belt and Road initiative. I often wonder what would be the perfect role for Mongolia in the grand scheme.
The city in the morning, with snow mountains acting as a backdrop
If we were to dissect some parts of the Belt and Road policies, there are two very important themes that the Belt and Road policy can be applied to Mongolia. First, infrastructure in Mongolia can surely use an upgrade and expansion. With only one railway running through Mongolia connecting Russia and China, it sets a pretty stiff limitation to Mongolia’s future logistics expansion needs.
Mongolia, like many other developing countries, relies on its natural resources for growth. But with the current economic development of its neighbours, the logistics limitations are not exposed at the moment. But why wait until it is too late?
Coal is Mongolia’s major energy source.
During cold times in winter there maybe days covered with smog.
Second, cultural exchange is very important between the two countries. Due to some historical reasons, there are anti-Chinese sentiments within Mongolia. During my short stay there, our team have been harassed by Mongolians for very trivial reasons (one incident involving an actual glass bottle flying into our private room in a nice restaurant).
This is not to say that every Mongolian population hates the Chinese, but according to our local partners there is definitely some grudge held by the Mongolians. And I believe this can only be lessened through enhanced communication and people exchange.
Wild boar meat hunted by locals. A local specialty that is served as a cold dish.
So, I think that instead of reaching across the globe to look for more Belt and Road opportunities, why not go to Mongolia and see what they have to offer? When I was in the country during winter I had my first experience of extreme cold weather (-35C!). It was also a very interesting place that had a lot to offer.
The capital, Ulaanbaatar, a vibrant city where the ancient meets the modern, holds half of Mongolia’s 2.9 million population. In the countryside, you see stunning and varied landscapes (not only sand!). I would definitely visit again whether business calls for it or just for personal visits.
8th April, 2016