In This Review

Mongolia’s Foreign Policy: Navigating a Changing World
Mongolia’s Foreign Policy: Navigating a Changing World
By Alicia Campi
349 pp, Lynne Rienner, 2019

Campi provides a richly informative survey of Mongolian foreign policy since the country’s transition in 1990 from communism to a troubled but still functioning democracy. Whatever the state of Mongolia’s domestic politics, the enduring geostrategic reality is the presence of two large, intrusive neighbors, China and Russia. Mongolia’s “third neighbor” policy offsets their influence by pursuing relations with as many other countries and institutions as possible, including the United States, the EU, and Asian democracies—and also North Korea, which Mongolian officials see as a potential transit route to the Pacific, and Iran and Turkey, two countries seeking to diversify their own foreign relations. Mongolia has been less successful in avoiding economic dependence on China. The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the “renomadization” of much of the Mongolian workforce when trade and aid from Moscow ended, leaving the economy increasingly reliant on Chinese investments in and purchases from the country’s coal, copper, and iron mines and oil fields. The only way out of this dependency would be to strengthen links with other economies, which ironically would depend on persuading Beijing to include Mongolia in its Belt and Road Initiative.