The grasslands of outer Mongolia.

Russia and China in Outer Mongolia

THE international status of the Mongolian People's Republic, situated between China and Russia and better known as Outer Mongolia, which for many years has been singularly indefinite, is in process of being clarified. In notes exchanged on August 14 between the Foreign Ministers of Soviet Russia and China, the two countries agreed to recognize the independence of Outer Mongolia within her existing boundaries, subject to a plebiscite of the population involved. This settlement will remove a point of contention between China and Soviet Russia. As for the Mongolian people themselves, their ordinary way of life will not be much changed. The population, small in proportion to the size of the area and the richness of its natural resources, both agricultural and industrial,[i] have long enjoyed only nominal independence; yet they did possess a real and cherished autonomy. Their paramount concern has always been to avoid colonization by either of their two great neighbors. The arrangement just announced would seem to remove at any rate the threat of Chinese colonization. It also provides the rest of the world with a significant clue to the nature of Soviet foreign policy.

To understand the importance of the present development, we must go back some distance into history. The Mongolian People's Republic is the last remnant of the huge empire of Jenghiz Khan, which at one time encompassed almost all Asia and a great part of Europe. Its inhabitants, like those of the neighboring Chinese provinces, as well as the nomadic cattle-raisers of Russian and Chinese Turkestan, have changed their citizenship from time to time simply by wandering across boundary lines. It will be recalled, for instance, that the so-called "Sinkiang incident," which got into the newspapers in 1944, centered about the efforts of Chinese troops to turn back bands of roaming Kazakhs who had crossed over the border from Chinese Turkestan into the Mongolian People's Republic. According to Soviet sources, the Chinese soldiers invaded the Mongolian People's Republic and fired at the Kazakhs from airplanes. There

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