Friday, June 27, 2014

Mongolia Brief June 26, 2014 Part III

Mongolia Produces 1.5 Thous. Ton of Molybdenum in May

Ulaanbaatar, June 26 (MONTSAME) Mining Ministry officials informed at "Transparent Mining" press conference that a monthly production of molybdenum reached 1.5 thousand ton the last month.

In May, Mongolia’s miners produced 397.1 thousand ton of copper concentrate, two ton of gold, ten million ton of coal, 116.2 thousand ton of fluorspar, 1.8 million ton of iron ore and two million 736 thousand barrels of petroleum, and exported 7.3 million ton of coal, 433.8 thousand ton of copper concentrate, 1.6 thousand on of molybdenum, 2.5 ton of gold, 113.7 thousand ton of fluorspar, 1.9 million ton of iron ore, 36 thousand ton of zinc and two million 610 thousand barrels of petroleum.
Exports increased by 87.2% in copper concentrate, 15.3% in coal, 5.7% in fluorspar and 45.9% in petroleum, compared to last year's May. 

Turquoise Hill Resources: Notice of Dispute Filed with Government of Mongolia

June 26 ( According to Turquoise Hill Resources announcement made on June 25, 2014, the Company files the Government of Mongolia regarding the recent Tax Act of 130 million USD issued by the General Department of Taxation of Mongolia.
The statement says: Following receipt of an audit report from the Mongolian Tax Authority claiming unpaid taxes, penalties and disallowed entitlements associated with the initial development of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, Turquoise Hill Resources today (June 25) announced that a notice of dispute with the Government of Mongolia has been filed.
The Investment Agreement outlines the dispute resolution process. The filing is the first step in that process and includes a 60-day negotiation period. If the parties are unable to reach a resolution during this period, the dispute can be referred to international arbitration.
Turquoise Hill is of the firm view that Oyu Tolgoi LLC has paid all taxes and charges as required under the Investment Agreement and Mongolian law and strongly disagrees with the claims in the audit report.
Outstanding shareholder issues, including tax claims, must be resolved before further investment in the underground can proceed. Consequently, distribution of the underground feasibility study will be delayed.

Land, language and identity

June 26 (UB Post) I started a #WhatisErliiz hashtag on Twitter in the wake of the Gazriin Tuhai Huuli (Law on Land) that had Mongolians in a social media frenzy and throwing the word “erliiz” around like it was some kind of disease. Though their solidarity was wonderful, and I applaud it, their use of the word “erliiz” just made me cringe.
“Erliiz” literally means “mixed” in Mongolian, to the best of my understanding, but its figurative meaning is packed with negative and positive connotations. I notice though, that somehow it is more negative if erliiz refers to a mixture with Mongolia’s southern neighbor than any other country.
In the case of the Law on Land, I think the issue brought to light the cultural fears and sensitivities of the Mongolian people when it comes to China. Mongolians are the ones who live in their country and are thus absolutely entitled to their opinions based on their own personal truths rooted in their history, geography and oral traditions, and I will not argue against that truth. But I want to understand it more, if only so that I can share my personal truths of erliiz within my own context, and then compare and contrast. I try to analyze things with a sober mind, because I see it as my duty to understand their side (which is half of me), even if I do not agree. Who is to say I wouldn’t be there chanting these same phrases had I been raised in Mongolia?
The positive connotation of erliiz may sound like, “Far away bloods mix to make a smart person” and “Mixed people are beautiful”, and the negative connotations may sound something like, “Your parent is a traitor, you are a traitor, you don’t belong with us” or “You should choose us, our nationality, and not your other one, because we need you the most and we are the best”.
I’ve heard a combination of these sentiments and more from my Mongolian counterparts while spending most of my life growing up outside of Mongolia. With each comment, I’ve had to subdue my anger (and vanity) to understand the speaker’s perspective, in case I was wrong. Growing up “erliiz” and with people who made sure I knew I was “erliiz” made me feel like a minority who just had to follow orders and the social status quo. Growing up with that kind of low self-esteem, and fear of always being wrong and needing to be right, I’ve had to understand the hard way that I am not wrong, just different.
I should admit that my treatment wasn’t as bad as it could have been, mostly because my mom made sure I grew up where she and I were embraced. Rocks were not thrown at me during primary school for being different, and fights were not picked with me, probably because I was a girl. The worst I ever got was underhanded and overt insults. Even during the short time I lived in Mongolia, in most cases but not all, erliiz was used positively about my identity because all that people really seemed to know about Mexico and Latin America was what they saw on the hit Venezuelan telenovela “Cara Sucia”. The television show aired in Mongolia in the early 90s and had people in a trance. Even though I did not have to face a whole other level of racism because I happen to not be mixed with Chinese, as a fellow mixed person, I can (and feel that I must) empathize with someone who may be treated unkindly because he or she is Mongolian and Chinese, or just Chinese, or just different. Perhaps the connotation of the word “erliiz” is chosen after the question “With what?” is answered. Therefore, the #WhatisErliiz hashtag is meant to share what “erliiz” means to me.
I met a young Mongolian man recently in a group conversation about patriotism, “eh oronch”-ness. I sat quietly, as I always do when this charismatic topic comes up, until this young man expressed his disdain for his relative’s marriage to a Chinese person. The sentiment cut me deeply because, for a flicker of a moment, I saw that same disdain directed at my mother many years ago, and it became personal. This man’s relative, whom I did not know, became someone I could empathize with, and the person sitting in front of me became someone of great interest because I wanted to know where this disdain came from. Who taught it to him? I simply asked, “Why?”
When he heard my side of the story regarding mixed marriages and patriotism, he tried to get me to choose Mongolia, especially since my partner is Mongolian. I told him that being with a Mongolian person does not make me any less “erliiz”, any less Mexican, or any less loyal to my other experiences. I told him I couldn’t choose a full Mongolian identity just like that, that my identity was already chosen. I am fully “erliiz”, and I don’t have to be only “one thing”. I added that his relative was not any less Mongolian because he or she married someone foreign, and Chinese at that. In the end, I got to hear his side. From what I gathered, his father instilled these patriotic values in him, while his relative was someone who had lived abroad for many years. Isn’t it amazing how we are all products of our environments, and how much parents matter in the construction of our opinions and experiences? I told him he wasn’t wrong for that, but I did tell him he should spare some compassion.
I finally asked, “Do you love your relative?” and he said, “Yes, very much.”
“So, then what else is there?” I retorted.
To be “eh oronch” and to be “patriotic”, does one have to hate another peoples? Is that what it means to be a patriot? Protecting a homeland cannot mean hating others who have done nothing wrong. If West wants to attack East, or vice versa, the East will have to band together. If aliens want to attack Earth, we’ll all have to band together, too. So, it is best to work out differences while we can, be smart, and educate people to understand one another because this world is only getting smaller and smaller.
Bolor online dictionary defines erliiz as “colored”, “crossbreed” and “multinational”. Not so sure about mongrel and mule, but I’m not going to focus on that right now. The translation to “bastard” is what really caught my eye. It’s actually the first definition listed. It might be the meaning ascribed to erliiz by society, but it is terribly outdated. Depending on who you talk to, erliiz can be embraced, it can even be coveted. But it is not a mark of shame anymore, or at least not as shameful as it was when I was born, and it shouldn’t be used to insult those who are mixed.
With #WhatIsErliiz we have the opportunity to understand both sides of the debate, because both perspectives have roots in us, and us in them, and then come to our own conclusions. Maybe we are all erliiz in mentality, but are too caught up with what we look like on the outside and what older generations think of our decisions.
In my opinion, contrary to what the world and its societies tell me, two cultures can work harmoniously if we let them. Cross-cultural families do not make bastards. “Erliiz” can mean harmony if we let it.
Mishell Hernandez is a writer born in Moscow, raised in Mexico, Mongolia, and the United States, and currently living in Australia. She writes about her life, travels and self-discovery on her blog, Mishell’s WordPress.

‘Legend of Argusan Khuurch’ exhibition

June 26 (UB Post) Member of the Inner Mongolian Calligraphers Association M.Tuvshin released his solo exhibition “Legend of Argusan Khuurch” at Blue Moon Art Gallery, from June 20 to 24. It was the second solo exhibition by M.Tuvshin in Mongolia.
During the opening of the exhibition he displayed calligraphy from “The Secret History of the Mongols”. He spent 400 hours transcribing “The Secret History of the Mongols”.  He displayed some 67 calligraphies in his exhibition.
Here is brief interview with the artist.
How many categories of calligraphy are there?
It can be divided into three categories: quick drawing, study and center. But there are a lot of brush methods, such as hard and soft.
Which one do you use when you write calligraphy?
I use all three. I especially use the center method.
How fast is calligraphy developing in China?
Chinese calligraphy is developing at a high level, and calligraphy of Mongolian script has developed rapidly in the past two years in Inner Mongolia. I am a teacher in a small district of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. My colleagues and my teacher, B.Lkhagvasuren, helped me a lot for this exhibit.
Most of your work is related to books, poetry, and verse?
I really like to read books. I use morality tales for children and teenagers in my calligraphy.  I read poetry and if a verse of a poem impresses me, I copy it in my calligraphy.
Do calligraphers have distinctive qualities? If they do, what are they?
It depends on the artist. For me, I write by center method. It is my distinctive quality. I have been writing calligraphy for 31 years. I will continue writing.
How many students do you have? 
I have 17 students. I am totally open for children who want to learn calligraphy. I teach two-hour classes twice a day. I do not teach only calligraphy. I teach general education lessons. Also, I sometimes teach calligraphy for teachers.
Does Inner Mongolia produce brushes and paper? 
Inner Mongolia doesn’t domestically produce brushes and paper. I think there is a difference between Mongolian and Chinese brushes for calligraphy.
What about paper? 
There are two types of paper, coated and uncoated. If you want to write smaller things, use uncoated paper. Coated paper suits bigger writing.
What about your next exhibition?  
I am planning to exhibit with my students and amateur calligraphers as soon as possible.

USA signs contract to return dinosaur fossils to Mongolia

June 26 (UB Post) Last week, Ambassador of Mongolia to the United States B.Altangerel signed an agreement on the repatriation of Mongolia-originated items collected at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department (ICE).
The U.S. Government agreed to return dinosaur fossils that were smuggled from Mongolia to the U.S. under the newly signed contract. A repatriation ceremony is planned for early July.
Special Representative of the International Operations of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Lucy Ecsamilla co-signed the agreement.

Mongolia chairs UN Environmental Assembly

June 26 (UB Post) The first-ever United Nations Environmental Assembly is being hosted in Nairobi, Kenya, where more than 150 high-level delegations are addressing environmental sustainability challenges, including green economy financial mechanisms, the illegal trade of wild animals and plants, sustainable environmental consumption, as well as development outlooks through 2015.
Minister of Environment and Green Development of Mongolia, S.Oyun, who was elected the president of the U.N. Environmental Assembly, the highest-level U.N. body every convened on the environment, told the opening session on Monday that a shift toward more environmentally sound policies is a prerequisite for sustainable development.
Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environmental Program, said the world’s changing environment — including climate change, pollution and land degradation — shows that the world’s economy needs to be reinvented or progress will suffer, according to the Associated Press.

Visa exemption discussed during visit of Valentina Matviyenko

June 26 (UB Post) Chairwoman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko is conducting an official visit to Mongolia at the invitation of Speaker of the Parliament Z.Enkhbold.
Matviyenko called on President Ts.Elbegdorj on Monday and conveyed President of Russia Vladimir Putin’s sincere greetings to President Elbegdorj. In his greetings Putin mentioned that he held a private meeting with President Elbegdorj in Shanghai during their participation in the Fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, and underscored the importance of the regular exchange of high-level visits between the two countries.
Chairwoman Matviyenko pointed out that bilateral relations have been successfully developing at the strategic partnership level, and emphasized the successful operations of Mongolian-Russian joint ventures and the successful implementation of bilateral agreements on economic partnership through 2015.
According to the official website of President Elbegdorj, both sides discussed opportunities for allowing Mongolian citizens to travel to Russia without a visa, jointly developing light industry, and organizing a business forum.
In August, the upcoming 75th anniversary of the victory of the battle of Khalkhin Gol will be celebrated, and in May 2015, Victory Day will be marked. Concluding the meeting, President Elbegdorj expressed his hope that President Putin will visit Mongolia this August as part of the anniversary celebrations of the Soviet-Mongolian victory at Khalkhin-Gol, and proposed organizing a Russia-China-Mongolia trilateral dialogue on transit transportation issues in Ulaanbaatar.
ITAR-TASS News Agency reported that the Mongolian Speaker of the Parliament Z.Enkhbold hopes to sign a deal on visa-free travel with Russia in August.
According to the report, Z.Enkhbold told ITAR-TASS that in August, Mongolia expects that Vladimir Putin will attend celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the victory at Khalkhin Gol, and believes that during President Putin’s visit the agreement will be signed. “Talks on this issue have lasted five years, and agreement has already been reached at the level of foreign ministries,” he said. “We are convinced that the transfer to visa-free rules will attract new investors and tourists,” Speaker Z.Enkhbold told ITAR-TASS.

Five eco-buses delivered to Khui Doloon Khudag for transporting Naadam spectators

June 26 (UB Post) Tsahilgaan Teever state-owned company handed over five electric mini-buses to Mongol Naadam Complex at Khui Doloon Khudag on Monday.
The mini-buses will be transporting visitors from parking lot and Naadam field from July 9 to July 14 free of charge.
After Naadam, two of the buses will be transferred to the National Garden as they are intended for carrying people in golf courses, parks and camps.
Tsahilgaan Teever’s head engineer G.Bolorsukh said, “The eco-mini buses have been domestically manufactured, but several parts of the bus, which are impossible for manufacturing in Mongolia, have been imported.”
The J-800 EV buses run on 12 batteries and are 4.6 meters long, 1.45 meter wide and two meters tall, with 12 seats each. Its maximum speed is 20 km/h. The electric batteries will be charged when off duty at night for eight to ten hours.
When fully charged, the minibus can travel up to 80 to 100 km. The company said that it has already received additional orders for the buses.

120 Myangat road to close for two nights for overpass construction

June 26 (UB Post) The road from the southern end of Peace Bridge will be closed for the construction of an overpass at 120 Myangat bus stop. The road will close from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. on June 26 and June 27 and drivers were advised take alternative routes, reported the Ulaanbaatar City Auto Road Authority on Tuesday.
The bus stop is located near the Central Stadium in Khan-Uul District.
While the road is closed, steel plates will be installed on the cross beam of the overpass and welding works will proceed.

Ulaanbaatar to increase direct flights to boost tourism

June 26 (UB Post) A delegation of Chinese tourism sector arrived in Ulaanbaatar by invitation of the Ulaanbaatar Tourism Authority.
A business meeting took place on Wednesday between Chinese and Mongolian tourism industry delegates. Some 14 tourism companies from Beijing, Wuhan, Manzhouli, and Mongolia’s airlines and tourism companies introduced their products and services.
More than 65 thousand tourists visit Mongolia in July of every year, therefore Mongolia is preparing special events for tourists during Naadam Festival.
According to studies conducted last year, 53 percent of all tourists come by plane, 40 percent by road, and two percent through railways. Recent studies on tourist travel routes reported that travels to eastern provinces of Mongolia is increasing. The Mongolian Tourism Authority said it plans to boost tourism by promoting and increasing direct flights to major cities and widen services directed at tourists.

45,000 improved stoves to find homes this fall

June 26 (UB Post) Ulaanbaatar air pollution to drop by roughly 65 percent in six years
The Parliamentary Sub-committee for Air Pollution Reduction (PSAPR) introduced its 2014 first-half performance report and future plans on Tuesday.
A total of 20 companies are constructing apartments at 17 locations, following the city administrations’ resolution to reduce Ulaanbaatar air pollution by relocating ger area residents into apartments. The constructions started after households that were residing in 37 hectares of land relieved their lands. As a result the relocation, a total of 800 coal stoves have gone out of use.
The city administrations are working to relocate 70,000 to 100,000 households to apartments in six years, which is expected to reduce air pollution in Ulaanbaatar by as much as 50 to 60 percent.
Improved stoves have been sold to ger district residents at a discount in the past three years and 45,000 more improved stoves will be sold from September to November.
PSAPR officials noted that air pollution is not only an issue in the city but also in provinces as residents are re-selling improved stoves, that were purchased at a discount, to mostly provincial residents.
Therefore the sub-committee decided to sell improved stoves at provinces starting this year. Following the higher demand of the stoves, Selenge Construction has already imported the required technical equipment for a stove factory.
Once the factory opens, repair centers for improved stoves will also become available as citizens have seen several faults since the introduction of the stove in 2011.
The officials also highlighted that ger area redevelopment projects are taking more time than expected due to relocation issues of land owners. Households that reside in planned redevelopment areas are given a chance to move into a new apartment for free in two to three years after relieving their lands, which has not been received favorably by residents.
Officials noted that a potential solution for this issue can be the offering of reasonably priced apartments, for instance at Buyant Ukhaa apartment town, and offer them a small land in the city outskirts as well. With this offer, over 80 percent of ger area residents will be willing to cooperate with the projects, said PSAPR officials.
Link to article

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