Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Chinese president to visit Mongolia in over a decade

Chinese President Xi Jinping is on his way to Mongolia. His two-day visit is aimed at strengthening ties with China’s neighbor.

It’s been a little more than a decade since a Chinese president visited Mongolia. But in that time, Beijing has become Ulaanbaatar’s most important trading partner.

Last year alone, China invested some six billion dollars into Mongolia, roughly half the latter’s foreign trade. The money has gone to everything from railways to new constructions, and from the exploration of oil to the extraction of minerals.

"This trip of the Chinese president Xi Jinping will bring China-Mongolia relations to a new level ... especially at a time when the Mongolian economy is suffering, this trip will play and even more important role in lifting up the economy," said Munkhtuul Banzragch, a Mongolian Sinologist.

On the streets of Mongolia’s capital, most welcomed the Chinese leader’s two-day visit as a good thing for their country.

"I’m very happy that Xi Jinping is visiting Mongolia for the second time. I graduated school in China. And I think this historic visit will strengthen the traditionally-friendly relations between our two countries," said a Ulaanbaatar resident named Demberel Munkhbadral.

It’s been 65 years since China and Mongolia established diplomatic ties. Two decades ago, the pair amended a "Friendship and Cooperation Treaty" that has served as the foundation for their relations.

Ahead of his expected guest’s arrival, Mongolia’s President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj this week said he hoped the visit would not just deepen trade, but also mutual trust and security cooperation.

Sources say that during his visit, the Chinese president Xi Jinping will invite Mongolia to join the SCO. The Beijing-led organization deals with these exact issues. The SCO already includes four Central Asian nations, and Russia. In two weeks, Vladimir Putin will visit Mongolia, and just a week after that the SCO heads of state will meet in Tajikistan for their annual summit. Many are already asking if, after this visit, there’ll be a new member at the table.

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