Friday, June 13, 2014

Mongolia Brief June 12, 2014 Part IV

Committee for Reducing Air Pollution cracks down on air polluters
June 12 (UB Post) The National Committee for Reducing Air Pollution (NCRAP) has sent official statements to 2,000 air polluting businesses operating in Ulaanbaatar, demanding they strictly follow pollutant emission standards as stated in the law.

These 2,000 businesses produce around 20 percent of air pollution in Ulaanbaatar City, according to Secretary of NCRAP J.Erdenetsogt.
The businesses noted that their reason for poor enforcement of the standards was connected to their limited understanding of air pollution laws, so NCRAP provided guidance for meeting the standards as well.
NRCAP will inspect each of the businesses from September 15 through October 15 to check whether they have fixed their stoves and other pollutant emitting equipment to keep their emissions within permitted levels. If they’ve failed in meeting standards, the business owners will face fines between 570,000 to 1,700,000 MNT, equal to three to nine times the minimum monthly wage, or will have their operation permits terminated.
J.Erdenetsogt highlighted that such a wide range action against air polluters has never been taken before and NCRAP has high expectations of positive results.
Emission standards for all types of stoves have been clearly outlines in their statement.
“Professional organizations have found that air pollution has decreased over the past few years, although the public is not very convinced. Actually, air pollution in Ulaanbaatar can be reduced by 70 to 80 percent if households use improved stoves and briquettes properly, according to instructions,” J.Erdenetsogt also noted.
The UB Post has re-released its extensive coverage of air pollution in UB and its effects on public health. See our Facebook page for more information.

Sh.Tuvdendorj: Politics is not boxing
June 12 (UB Post) Parliamentary member Sh.Tuvdendorj shared his views on current political issues before his appointment to the position of Minister of Industry and Agriculture, which has been empty since the resignation of Kh.Battulga.
The public, especially local media outlets, feelS that the Democratic Party’s decision to appoint you to the position of Agriculture and Industry Minister breaches the President’s “double deel” policy, which states that a minister or Member of Parliament should not simultaneously hold two posts, Member of Parliament and a Member of Cabinet. What is your position regarding the appointment?
The Democratic Party’s decision is not in conflict with the President’s policy at all. I see the President’s policy as just and correct policy in terms of Mongolia’s social and economic development. I have supported the President’s policy from the very beginning. I feel that one circumstance should be considered.  The DP should realize its political responsibilities, as it is the strongest political force that received the citizens’ trust in the 2012 Parliamentary elections.
The issue of holding two positions started being discussed at the end of the 1990s. Today, the DP faces demands to make a principal choice about whether it is important to provide the state with sustainability, implementing its action platform focused on the fulfillment of its promises to the nation, or whether to overly attach significance to political games, disorienting the government in the name of resolving the double position issue and wasting time with inefficient political disputes and debate.
As an experienced politician, I believe the President foresaw this. Therefore, he submitted a request to implement the “double deel” policy after the 2016 elections.
There is some confusion. The President has recently expressed his position regarding your appointment, stating that he rejects the Prime Minister’s proposal to promote a Member of Parliament as a Member of Cabinet, hasn’t he?
If I did not misunderstand, the President did not say, “do not promote Sh.Tuvdendorj’s for the position of Minister.” I understand that he suggested that the government start implementing the policy not to hold two positions in Parliament and the Cabinet, starting with this appointment. I am a Member of Parliament elected by the party roster. Therefore, I am obliged to follow decisions made by the party’s governing bodies. In other words, I have to follow the decisions of the government and the political party faction in the parliament. Obviously, the party made such a decision by major votes, considering various sides such as the current situation, further consequences, party policy and governmental operations etc.
So, you are considering working as a Member of Cabinet, aren’t you?
Yes, I am. In simple words, politics is not a boxing match. It requires team play, like football or volleyball. This game has one feature. You are a team member. Thus, you should complete your duties and follow team principles. Of course, a team needs a couple stars who can make goals with every ball they receive, like Lionel Messi. However, one can’t do anything without the support of other members of the team.
The Democratic Party faction in the Parliament is a unified command. Whether our team will win or lose will depend on team play. I am a member of that team, so is the President of Mongolia. The passing of the ball is on me now and I have to do my best to make a goal with that ball. The DP competed in the 2012 parliamentary elections with a very simple, clear and comprehensive action platform, and that’s why the nation gave us their trust. Therefore, our duty is crystal clear. As a politician, I have to fulfill the duties I am obliged to, since I am a member of this command.
Where would you start if you are appointed as the Agriculture Minister? What would you focus on?
I worked as Defense Minister. I believe I have some experience. Obviously, the current situation and circumstances have completely changed since that time. Plus, the defense sector is totally different from industry and agriculture.
The work of a minister starts from studying and being introduced to the relevant sector’s features, current development status, complete and ongoing programs and projects, as well as to acquaint themselves with the sector’s colleagues, etc. I will start my work with these common standards.
Obviously, I have to study and go through lots of relevant material in a short time and I have to meet many people in person to share my views.
All in all, one minister does not develop an economy. An economy is developed by itself. Ordinary, hardworking people who bear the economy on their backs, who are herders, farmers, entrepreneurs and businessmen, are developing the economy. The role of government is to help them and support them with policies. At least, if the government can’t help, it should not become a barrier for them. If my appointment to the position of Agriculture and Industry Minister is approved by Parliament, the main policy I will adhere to is to support those hardworking people.

5.8 billion MNT budgeted for flower beds in streets
June 12 (UB Post) For the last two years, the Office of the Ulaanbaatar City Governor (OUCG) has been focusing on increasing green areas in the city. Last year, they trained over 200 people in gardening courses and another 200 people this year. Gardeners have been taking care of green areas on public streets and Central Square, planting and maintaining trees since April 1, and plating flowers starting June 5. L.Baatartsogt from the OUCG, an expert responsible for the city’s green areas, elaborates on this matter.
This year, how much money is budgeted for green areas?
We will take care of green areas on 85 streets, gardens and other areas of the city, and plant trees. Although the Ulaanbaatar Incorporated Public Service Authority is responsible for this work, due to inadequate staffing, capacity and technical support, the private sector is in charge of the work for some streets. The city council approved 5.8 billion MNT for the green areas of the city.
How many trees and flowers will be planted?
Forty-five thousand trees and shrubs were planted in April and May. Now we’re planting flowers. This year we will be planting on 300 thousand square meters and installing one-year-old trees in those areas. It’ll probably continue until Naadam Festival. We’re planning to begin tending to weeds on 500 thousand square meters of area by the end of June.
Which company are you getting plants from?
This year we’ll be planting 10 different types of one-year-old trees. We got plants from four or five companies, and trees and shrubs from 12 to 13 companies.  We’ll be planting 300 thousand flowers on 45 streets near the city center. Last year, we planted flowers on 24 streets. The difference this year is that we’ll be planting flowers and trees in areas that have never been cultivated before, such as both sides of the road from Traffic Circle-32 to the last bus stop of Doloon Buudal, and the road of the 22nd traffic check point of Amgalan.

Mongolia to save 2 million USD on entrance fees to Erenhot
June 12 (UB Post) Mongolian citizens started travelling to Erenhot, China free of entrance fees on Tuesday as the fee has been eliminated through a mutual agreement between Zamyn-Uud soum and Erenhot administrators at their latest official meeting.
The entrance fee was five CNY and Mongolians travelling to Erenhot were obligated to pay.
The total annual sum paid by Mongolians for entrance fees was an average of 12 million CNY, approximately two million USD.

‘2 Moms, 10 Kids’ breaks new ground in Mongolian television
June 12 (UB Post) Melanie Kocke is the American co-host of Eagle TV’s Eagle Live’s newest talk and lifestyle program, “2 Moms 10 Kids”, with Migaa Amraa.  The concept for the talk show came about when Batkhatan, executive producer at Among Mongolia, approached Melanie about making a TV talk show specifically for mothers.  Amid the many TV shows directed at women they saw a real need for something uplifting and encouraging, but beyond that, something that would be geared and tailored specifically to the needs of mothers.
The show’s goal is to encourage and support mothers in their role.  Melanie, Migaa and the show’s producers believe, “As goes the family so goes the nation.  Mothers are a powerful force and vital to the future of this country and it is our honor to help them in any way we can.”
Melanie is mom to four kids, ages twelve, ten, eight, and four.  She and her husband, Hetee have been married 13 years.  Melanie has lived in Mongolia since 1999, teaching English to young learners throughout that time and becoming fluent in Mongolian.  She has experience with counseling young mothers regarding health and child rearing. Melanie wants to see moms take on their roles with confidence and to generate a shift in the way society envisions the “stay-at-home” mom.
Migaa is mother of six, three boys and three girls. She and her husband, Borhuu have been married eight years. Migaa has professional experience in directing television shows.  Meeting and getting to know other mothers is something that drives her.  Her goal is to encourage other moms and help them to rise to the challenge that is motherhood.
The opening sequence for the show is a beautifully shot, modern, clever narrative of how these two women gracefully make the transition from incredibly busy moms to television talk show hosts. Their set is a spacious, contemporary living room and the show is shot as if you’re a part of the conversation, curled up on their long, white couch and getting settled in to meet someone whose story you won’t soon forget.
We spoke with Melanie about the show, its reception, and motherhood.
How did “2 Moms, 10 Kids” come together on Eagle TV?
Our executive producer, who is a close friend of mine, came to me with the idea of creating the show last September.  As we began to move forward, forming a team to discuss ideas and address the needs of mothers in Mongolia, the show really just came together.
How has your reception been as a foreign co-host on a very locally themed program? Any noteworthy reactions to your proficiency and immersion in Mongolian language and culture?
So far, the feedback has been mostly positive.  Whenever possible, I try to draw parallels between Mongolian and American mothers, because I believe that moms are basically the same the world over.  The joys and struggles we face as moms are universal and it helps to know you’re not alone.   I myself am in the thick of motherhood and I learn so much from each of our guests.  I never want to come across as someone who knows everything.  Just like our viewers, I am learning as I go!  I think the fact that I speak Mongolian helps to put our viewers at ease.  Speaking their language conveys a real concern for them and their families.  I make many mistakes but the Mongolian public has been most forgiving.
Have you had a chance to address the issues of cross-cultural families on the program?
We are currently working on an episode that deals with this issue.  It is an important one because it is becoming more and more common in Mongolia.  And it is a topic I know a little bit about.
The show’s Facebook page has more than 11,000 likes and counting. What conclusions have you drawn from the fantastic reception?
We feel extremely pleased and humbled at the same time.  Our goal was moms encouraging moms and we feel like that is beginning to happen.  We hope it continues!
Any plans to provide subtitles in English to branch out to foreign viewers?
You know, we English speakers are very fortunate in that there is a never-ending supply of resources for mothers in English.  Mongolian women don’t have this.  Having said that, it would be nice!
Who have been your most memorable guests so far?
It’s so hard to say! But if I had to pick one, it would be Ariuntuya.  She is a 35 year-old mom to three busy boys.  She suffered an electrocution at the age of 19 and lost both hands as a result.  She definitely left an impression on me.
If you could invite anyone from the past or present to appear on your show, who would it be?
My grandmothers.
As the co-host of a show that often focuses on the challenges of parenting, what are your own biggest challenges as a working mother of four?
My greatest challenge is not having enough time.  I love spending time with my husband and kids.
What kind of guests can your audience look forward to on upcoming episodes?
More amazing moms!  Also, we will be bringing in experts to talk about issues such as teaching children about money, how and when to talk to kids about sex, how technology (iPads and other touchscreens) affect children, and many more relevant topics.
What does the future hold for the show?
It’s hard to say for sure, but we’re just enjoying it and taking it day by day. We do hope to see the network of mothers become stronger as more and more women identify with and help one another.
“2 Moms, 2 Kids” airs Tuesday through Sunday at 6:00 p.m. on Eagle Live. Episodes are also available on their YouTube channel. You can also join their online community on Facebook,

Plans move forward for Mongolia’s first hydroelectric power plant
June 12 (UB Post) Mongolia, which is located in a watershed of Asia, is losing its rivers due to global warming and mineral deposit mining. However, we are using fresh water for our toilet bowls, washing our cars in clean river water, and watering lawns with our drinking water. Even though water-saving initiatives, such as collecting and using snow and rain water and reusing grey water have come out, up until now, there has been no implementation of these practices.
The Governor’s Office of Orkhon Province has planned to build a 100 megawatt hydro accumulation power plant, cooperating with Marcus Industry of Slovakia. This project is reported to be different from hydroelectric power plants which block waterways.
The hydroelectric power plant will be built on 148.1 hectares issued for building an industry and technology park in Orkhon Province. This plant will generate electricity using grey water from Orkhon Province’s sewage treatment plant, not fresh water from a river. The first water basin will be built lower, at the industry and technology park, and the second will be built on top of a nearby mountain. The basins will be connected with underground pipes and four 25 megawatt turbines will be installed.
We asked for some clarification on the issue of Mongolia’s first hydroelectric power plant from an advisor of the Orkhon Province governor’s office.
Four Slovakian specialists conducted a feasibility survey for establishing a hydroelectric power plant in Orkhon Province. Did they present the results?
Engineers of Erdenet Power Plant looked into building this kind of low-capacity plant years ago. We got the idea from them and we sent a request to the Minister of Economic Development and specialists and authorities in the Renewable Energy and Policy Department reviewed and discussed it. Based on our estimates of increased electricity consumption, we agreed on a plan to establish a hydroelectric power plant in cooperation with the National Renewable Energy Center of Mongolia, under the Ministry of Energy and based on hydro accumulation power plants of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Currently, a team from the Czech Republic and Slovakia is cooperating with the National Renewable Energy Center of Mongolia and has arranged to make a draft and prepare for building the plant.
How will investment be solved? Will Marcus Industry establish a concession agreement?
A huge amount of capital will definitely be needed in order to implement such a big project. So we will solve the funding issues through foreign investment. The joint team said they will transfer the plant to the Ministry of Energy as soon as they build it. Investment will be financed by Ex-Im Bank of the Slovak Republic.
The lower basin is going to be placed not so far from the Zun River. Will there be any changes to the river?
Our province’s sewage treatment plant has the capacity to purify 20 thousand cubic meters of wastewater a day. Next year, new sewage systems equipped with French technology and facilitation will come to Mongolia.  Thus, the capacity of sewage systems will increase, and 40 thousand cubic meters of wastewater will be purified and supply the hydroelectric power plant. We have a goal of supplying our electricity consumption with it.
The hydroelectric power plant won’t be established in the Zun River. The basin will be built far from the river. There won’t be any changes to the waterline. There won’t be any negative impact on the environment since the pipes will be installed underground. We have become acquainted with the technology of producing electricity using grey water in the Czech and Slovak republics. They are producing electricity using eco-friendly, secondary raw material, “grey water”, in a cheap way.
For instance, the Czech Republic built a basin 1,520 meters above sea level and established a hydro accumulation power plant which generates 650 megawatts of power. Also, Slovakia built a plant with four times that capacity using the flow of the Dunai River. From this experience, we are taking the first step towards establishing a hydro accumulation power plant.  The wall of the basin will be made of ferro concrete and membrane, or bead board. It is so reliable to use membrane and bead boards, since they are stainless.
It is impossible to use a water powered plant in winter. What will you do?
This is a really important question. There is a way to keep the basin from freezing. The foreigners have already found it. Even if the water in the basin doesn’t freeze if it is moving, the surface of the water will definitely freeze. So, the surface of the water will be covered with 20 cm thick bead board, since the board keeps a constant heat of ten degrees. This is one way to decelerate freezing.
Who will use the electricity produced at this plant?
Besides supplying province consumption, it is planned to be distributed to Erdenet Power Plant. The Erdenet plant buys 180 megawatts of electricity per day from the hydroelectric power station of Gallut Lake in the Russian Federation. This plant will play an important role in saving money spent on buying electricity. Our plant used to produce 25 megawatts of electricity besides heat. The Ministry of Energy is paying more attention to increasing the electricity supply.
As a result, our plant will be expanded and a project to produce 50-80 megawatts of electricity per day will be implemented. If we can build a hydro accumulation power plant, we don’t have to buy electricity from Russia.
We will also have funds to improve our province if we can sell electricity to the Erdenet plant and not buy electricity abroad. Other provinces have the chance to produce electricity and earn money. The advantage of the hydro accumulation power plant is after it covers its expenses, it will produce almost free electricity.

N.Purevdash: Competency and friendship are our secret for longevity
June 12 (UB Post) This year is the 25th anniversary of Mongolian rock band Kharanga. Each members of the band will perform a solo concert to celebrate the occasion. Tonight, on June 13, Kharanga’s drummer N.Purevdash will hold his concert at the UB Palace.
N.Purevdash is the President of Mongolian Drummers Association and has been a percussionist for 43 years. The following interview highlights his musical career and solo concert.
Your concert will take place soon. Are you feeling nervous or are you more concerned about the quality of the concert?
There’s nothing to be nervous about. I’m only concerned about satisfying my fans and throwing a good show for my audience. We’re employees of a service organization. Since I’m a professional drummer, I’m not worried about the things that are dependent on me. Kharanga has been performing together for a long time. There’s nothing to fear as we can understand each other just by our looks and small gestures. However, I’m paying more attention on preparation work for performances with other artists.
Is this the first large-scale drum show in Mongolia? How will it be different from other concerts?
I’m doing this concert together with percussion instrument instructor of the Music and Dance College of Mongolia B.Zorigt and his students, drummer of Soyol Erdene band Tsolmon, and many more drummers of different bands. I want to prove to everyone that I really am a professional drummer and hold it dear in my heart. There are performances infusing hip hop and trance music beats with rock music. Dancers of Ezen Khan Theater will also make an appearance.
Most fans usually recognize vocalists and guitarists of rock bands but drummers do not attract as much attention. Do you feel it’s just something you have to accept?
No. As long as our band music reaches the hearts of the people, it doesn’t matter. Vocalists and guitarists are positioned near the front in the spotlight, whereas drummers are situated further back under dim lights and when our pictures are taken, it’s usually rather blurry and out of focus. There’s no band that has their drummer at the front in the world history. If they do that, weird sounds will come out from microphones and speakers.
What’s the secret of your band’s longevity? Is it perhaps good friendship?
It is, but Kharanga wouldn’t have existed if we only depended on our friendship and were incompetent as musicians. In order to reach success, we have to be talented and skilled. Unskilled bands will be rejected by the people in due course. We can’t get dragged down by bad musicians all our lives. Good fellowship will be created if talented people gather together, agree with one another and aim for one specific goal.
How difficult was it to find one another or was your meeting brought by fate?
It wasn’t destiny or fate. We befriended many people and selected only the best. After working for eight years in orchestral wind chimes sample together and overcoming many hardships, Oogii, Chuka, Manlai and I found each other and became an steadfast band. Later, Chuka introduced Lhagvasuren and we just had to recruit him as he had amazing vocals just like Gantumur.
Do you sing?
What’s the use in singing next to an amazing singer and composing songs next to great composers? I’ll just be a good drummer. I’ll provide the conditions for my band members to perform and sing, and I try to be like a tank to back them up.
In your opinion, what is friendship?
Everything except from the fact that people will be born and die, is false. Infants from ages one to three are pure but afterwards, they start to lie. No matter how good a man may be, he can’t escape from this quality. They should be intelligent when lying.
Mongolia has many live music bands and events such as Play Time Festival attest to this. Why aren’t there more bands like Kharanga, which infatuates others, being formed by younger musicians?
After A-Sound band, many similar bands with jingling vocals started to multiply like mushrooms that grow after a rain. Bluntly, young people aren’t working or making any effort. They just want to make it as easy as possible. Maybe they don’t want to entertain.
You produced Solongo band, right? Can you talk about this?
We produced Solongo band with three graduates of the Music and Dance College of Mongolia. We went through many troubles to select members, to buy instruments for them and have instructor Sukhee from Bayanmongol Ensemble train them. We aimed to produce a world-renowned Mongolian band but it wasn’t successful. Kids nowadays are so messy trying to find money for only tomorrow’s needs.
What is your dream?
I don’t have any interest in teaching someone else’s children as my current work hasn’t had fruitful results. I’ve already made my dreams come true with my band Kharanga. My current objective is to create an easily comprehended theoretical and practical training book or an album for amateur drummers.
How did social changes affect Kharanga as a band?
Kharanga was established under the supervision of the State Academic Drama Theater in 1989 and became independent in 1990. Despite the fact that the society was facing crisis and food shortage at the time, we didn’t pay attention to our households and instead sang every irreverent song with explicit language and contents. People who have endless dedication and love for music never are concerned about these sorts of small issues.
As a professional in this field, what makes drums special from other instruments?
A drummer adjusts sounds and rhythms of songs and provides conditions for vocalists to sing and other musicians to play their instruments. Each song has its own rhythm. Even when playing 20 songs, they all have different rhythms. If songs are adjusted and sang at a wrong tempo, vocalists will struggle and tire quickly. If the music sounds correct, artists will be able to become emotional and show their full potential, without any distractions.
During wartimes, Mongolians used to beat drums as loud as possible in order to give courage to soldiers, to signal troops during battle and to frighten enemies. Some people say that this was how it originated. How do you think drums were created?
Ever since the birth of human kind, they started to make weapons and tools with wood and rocks to find food. After all, we’re humans so we all sing, cry and dance. Drums were probably created around the time when people wanted to make everyone sing and have fun together by doing some sort of an activity by beating wood or rocks.  Like so, drums were introduced all around the world through all sorts of means and took its current form.
How many drums do you have?
Since people have endless greed, there were many instances when I bought new drums before the previous one became old and rusty. I have eight complete drum sets. It’s troublesome to take huge drums to every concert; therefore, I only use them in big or special events like band anniversaries.
Do you remember what the first piece you learned to play on the drum was?
In 1971, I participated in a five year training course for military drummers in the music branch of the People’s Military Class No. 013. I learned five famous waltz pieces including the Autumn Dream. Even members of the famous German band, Rammstein, were all military musicians. Military drumming is powerful and sharp so it’s closer to rock music.
Who was your first instructor?
It was Mr. Vasely who graduated from the percussion instrument’s class of the Military Music Academy of Tchaikovsky. Thanks to his proper training for hand and foot techniques, despite turning 60, I’m still healthy and well. If it’s learnt incorrectly, there are risks of getting hydronephrosis (enlarged kidneys) and tendon damages.
Is it true that there’s a connection between you and the story that inspired the song Suulchiin Shunu (The last night)?
A big businessman named Chuka asked me to write a song for him. He said his beloved got into in accident at dawn on her journey to meet him.

Invest in your future by standing up for children’s rights
June 12 (UB Post) We Mongolians pride ourselves on being a particularly child loving culture, one that encourages familial bonds above all else. But child labor under difficult and dangerous situations, human trafficking, and even sexual abuse and slavery still exist and are a major concern in Mongolian society.
World Day Against Child Labor was marked on June 12, which drew attention to the role of social protection in keeping children out of child labor and removing them from it.
Mongolian NGOs and organizations for protecting children’s rights held a press conference and called for a stop to all child labor, highlighting that child labor has increased in the past four years, despite the claims made by officials in the field.
“On this day, when the football World Cup is launching, let us raise a red card, the highest penalty in football, to all child labor… We all know what happens to a team or a player that receives a red card. We want the same for all organizations and individuals that utilize child labor. Therefore, we call upon all residents, businesses, and media outlets to join us in putting a stop to child labor,” said Kh.Baavgai, head of the Child and Family Department of the Ministry of Population Development.
Although the Head of the Capital City Family Development Authority, Ya.Baigalmaa, said that child labor has decreased in Ulaanbaatar, NGOs claim that child labor has increased 1.8 percent according to their studies.
“The National Statistical Office conducts a child labor survey every four years. The last one was conducted last year, in 2013. The survey revealed that, unfortunately, child labor rates have indeed increased in Mongolia. It stated that more than 98,000 children aged between five and 15 have been involved in child labor and employed in the nation’s economic activities in some form. This is an increase of 1.8 percent since 2009,” said a spokesperson for the NGOs at the press conference.
According to the latest studies on child labor, roughly 10 percent of children under the age of 14 are actively being employed, most of whom are working in the agricultural and animal husbandry sector in rural areas.
The 2010 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor Report, published by the US Department of Labor, said that children in Mongolia are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, most commonly in herding and animal husbandry. Herding exposes children to extreme cold and frostbite, exhaustion, animal attacks, assault or beatings, nonpayment of wages and accidents such as falling off horses or being cut by sharp knives while slaughtering livestock.
The report also highlighted that many children mine gold, coal and fluorspar, both on the surface and underground, in artisanal mines. “In mining, children handle mercury and explosives, transport heavy materials, stand in water for prolonged periods, work in extreme climate conditions, risk falling into open pits and enter tunnels up to 10 meters deep at risk of collapse.”
“The worst forms of child labor, such as child prostitution and child trafficking, also exist in Mongolia. Child prostitution, including child sex tourism, is a continuing problem. Girls are trafficked internally and forced into prostitution in saunas and massage parlors. Girls are also trafficked to China, Macau, Malaysia and South Korea for sexual exploitation and forced labor,” the report emphasized.
Numerous domestic children’s rights organizations have voiced their concerns regarding child jockeys in Mongolia, who work in extremely dangerous circumstances. It’s not uncommon for child jockeys to acquire serious injuries or even die during a race, especially during winter races, which can be dozens and sometimes hundreds of kilometers long. Around 50 horse races take place in Mongolia every year and more than 2,000 child jockeys are employed in total.
From personal experience, it’s not uncommon for me to be approached by children who sell chewing gum and other menial goods in cafes and restaurants around Ulaanbaatar, and when driving, I recently noticed more and more children knocking on cars lined up in traffic to sell drinks and car air fresheners.
As someone who occasionally volunteers at an orphanage, I’ve found that children there more often have parents, or a single parent, but they are unable to support them, or they have been abandoned or abused to the point that they had to run away. It’s always sad to see children, who are the future of this country, being neglected and abused, but I would rather see them at the orphanage, where they are have food, shelter and someone to attend to their basic needs, than on the streets or with abusive guardians.
In recent years, this issue has taken a back seat, with other immediate economic challenges taking precedence. The government has announced several programs to protect children’s rights, such as the National Program for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor 2011-16, National Program for Preventing and Protecting Children and Women, and others that attempt to prevent child labor, but none of these have been implemented or have shown any results, according to the Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor Report.
Children often hear the phrase, “You are the future of this country,” but reports show that around one in ten are forced to work and are exploited, rather than educated and taken care for. Mongolia, as a nation, needs to reflect on the message we give to our “future.”
I find working with children very chaotic and challenging, but also extremely rewarding. I do not see it as charity or altruism. My time spent with the children of Amgalan orphanage has taught me many valuable lessons that have spilled over in to my personal life, as well as my career. Therefore, I will encourage everyone who is able, to invest their time and energy for children, just a little, by standing for their rights and leading them by example. And if/when you do this, I want you to realize that the protection and support of children is more of a long term investment in your future rather than charity.

June 12 (UB Post) Shortly before U.S. President Barack Obama left for Europe this week, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes warned that the crisis in Ukraine is not over: “There are people dying on a regular basis in eastern and southern Ukraine, given the violence perpetrated and initiated by separatist factions there. So by no means are we out of the woods.”
Still, since Ukraine held a successful presidential election – voting in Petro “Chocolate King” Poroshenko – and Russia has withdrawn most of its troops from the border they share, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the crisis has exited its most critical phase.
What does Russia’s balance sheet look like? In addition to annexing Crimea, Russia has formed a Eurasian Economic Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan (Ukraine was supposed to be a member) and signed a $400-billion, 30-year gas deal with China. But in light of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s oft-stated objective – to establish a Eurasian Union that functions as an independent and central actor in international affairs – these victories seem more tactical than strategic.
For starters, Russia’s approach to Ukraine has mobilized opposition throughout Europe. True, elections for the European Parliament have strengthened several right-wing populist parties that regard European integration as anathema. (The New York Times observes that they “have been gripped by a contrarian fever of enthusiasm for Russia and its president.”) Even this fringe support, however, seems more opportunistic than organic, driven less by the desire for a Eurasian Union than by the hope that supporting Russian foreign policy in the short term will weaken the prevailing European order.
Looking beyond Europe, far-reaching economic and diplomatic pushback from the West have compelled Russia to accelerate its rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, where it seeks, above all, to strengthen its relationship with China. But while Sino-Russian relations are indeed growing stronger, they are also growing more lopsided – in China’s favor.
China is a rising power that needs vital commodities. Russia is a declining power that needs to cultivate the perception of strategic alignment and ideological solidarity with China to be deemed a major power. This asymmetry presents Russia with a predicament: Beyond what threshold will its efforts to curry favor with China effectively render it a supplicant?
Fearful of this outcome, and mindful that Chinese influence is overtaking its own across Central Asia (which was firmly within its orbit as recently as a decade ago), Russia is also trying to curry favor with bitter antagonists of China, including Japan and Vietnam. If and when China assesses that these hedging efforts have gone too far, it can leverage its prodigious economic influence to change Russia’s calculus.
More isolated by the West and more dependent on China, Russia is in a less favorable strategic position than it was at the beginning of the year. Less clear, however, is how its incursion into Crimea will change Europe’s defense posture.
In June 2011, in his last policy address as U.S. Defense Secretary, Robert Gates famously lamented that NATO had become “a two-tiered alliance,” with the United States accounting for more than three-quarters of the entire alliance’s defense spending. He warned that it could succumb to “collective military irrelevance” if that imbalance persisted, and that if it did, America’s future leaders might not “consider the return on America’s investment in NATO worth the cost.”
While some of America’s European allies have vowed to contribute more to their own security, the developments of recent years are not encouraging. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen noted last month that “Russian defence spending has grown by more than 10 percent in real terms each year over the past five years. … By contrast, several European NATO countries have cut their defence spending by more than 20 percent over the same period. … And the cuts have been particularly deep here in Central and Eastern Europe.”
President Obama, meanwhile, has “proposed a new $1 billion fund” that, if approved by Congress, “would pay for added military exercises in Europe, including further Navy deployments to the Black and Baltic seas.”
While observers on both sides of the Atlantic have welcomed this initiative, it could encourage Europe to continue free-riding on U.S. security commitments. (The United States faces a comparable, though arguably less acute, dilemma in the Asia-Pacific: While China’s neighbors express concern about the sustainability of America’s rebalance to the region, they are making insufficient investments in their own capabilities.)
As Russia’s annexation of Crimea recedes from the headlines, a central challenge – and opportunity – for the transatlantic project will be to distribute security burdens more evenly.
Ali Wyne is a contributing analyst at Wikistrat and a co-author of Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World (2013).

Mongolia wins 10 medals at Asian Draughts Championship
June 12 (UB Post) The 7th Asian Draughts Championship is taking place from June 10 to 15 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Draughts players from 10 countries, namely China, Mongolia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan and Singapore are participating in the Asian Draughts Championship in six age categories.
From Mongolia, International Sports Master D.Erdenebileg, International Sports Master M.Ganjargal are competing in the men’s category and Sports Vice Master M.Odgerel, Sports Master G.Amgalan and Sports Master B.Nandintsetseg are competing in the women’s category.
On the first day of the championship, Chinese draught players took three gold and one bronze medals.
As for Mongolia, the national team won two gold, three silver and five bronze medals.

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