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Mongolia: dancing between the bear and the dragon

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Since the establishment of a democracy in Mongolia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, foreign interests have attempted to reassert control over the landlocked piece of steppe between China and Russia.

Mongolia’s position, located between two ambitious powers, means that it is the target of Chinese and Russian influence, often to the detriment of the fledgling democracy and its people. Historically Mongolia’s geographical position and nomadic inhabitants (of which there are still many) has made it vulnerable to the influence of its neighbors. Mongolia was subjugated to both Beijing and Moscow at different times and still struggles with the political influence of both powers.

Economics further complicates Mongolia’s diplomatic issues; vast amounts of mineral wealth have been discovered in Mongolia since the early 90’s including large reserves of copper, gold, and coal. Previously Mongolia’s weak economy, based on pastoral products such as beef and cashmere production, meant that it provided very little potential wealth for powers seeking to control it. These discoveries have led to serious interest from a resource-hungry China, which accounts for 89% of Mongolia’s exports, as well as Russia, which faces more competition for resources in an ever more hostile Europe.

Despite the renewed interest from its neighbors, most foreign companies involved in the Mongolian mining sector have been Canadian or Australian, of the 11 foreign companies invested in copper production, 9 of them were Australian or Canadian. In most sectors the primary owners of the mining companies have been Canadian or Australian, with a few from Hong Kong or the UK. These firms often own and operate mines in conjunction with the Mongolian Government, which creates friction when the negotiations go sour, such as with the massive Oyu Tolgoi mine that has seen constant delays from shareholder disputes and concerns over the operating cost.

The access to fossil fuels and raw minerals have given some measure of control over Mongolian politics and makes government corruption all the more dangerous to the Mongolian people. On February 26th the president of Mongolia pardoned 3 foreign nationals involved in the mining industry who had been convicted of tax evasion. The foreign nationals were accused of evading 6.8 Billion USD, a sum so ridiculous that the arrests shook foreign confidence and caused complaints in the UN over human rights violations. The simultaneous state of unprecedented economic growth and unrelenting economic exploitation have left the Mongolian authorities and people with as much resentment for foreigners as gratitude. A former member of Mongolian parliament and minister of foreign affairs stated “It is no secret that small Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese investors are commonly robbed, threatened, and slandered in cases brought on false charges.” An ineffectual and divided Mongolian Government coupled with widespread corruption enables foreign interests to undermine the welfare of the state over the acquisition of its resources.

Submitting to foreign nations for political reasons over economic ones often holds serious financial consequences for Mongolian taxpayers. In 2009 the Mongolian government passed a nuclear energy law, and, under Russian pressure, revoked the uranium licenses of Khan Resources, a Canadian company that owned the Dornod Uranium property. The government then seized Khan Resources’ assets with no compensation, resulting in a lengthy legal battle between the company and the government. On March 2nd an international arbitration tribunal determined an award of 100 million USD to be paid by the Mongolian government to Khan Resources. It is speculated that Russian companies were interested in entering the uranium sector in Mongolia and pressured the government to pass the nuclear energy law and attack the competition, especially since the law came right on the heels of an announced joint venture to mine uranium between the Russians and Mongolians.

The Chinese are also muscling in on foreign companies, especially ones that produce the construction materials that China needs to power its real estate boom. The Canadian mining company, Turquoise Hill Resources, recently sold its entire stake in SouthGobi Resources to Novel Sunrise Investments. Novel Sunrise and its affiliated groups intend to use their logistics and marketing experience to leverage their way into procuring raw materials for construction, iron ore and coal, that companies such as SouthGobi produces. Many of the mining firms in Mongolia are based in Hong Kong and seek a larger share of the untapped mineral wealth.

While most mining companies in Mongolia are not owned by either the Chinese or the Russians, the local geography means that nearly all imports and exports come from those two countries. The next 3 biggest importers, South Korea, Japan, and The United States, account for about 19% of imports combined, nearly 10% less than Russia alone and less than half of China’s imports. These are all major regional players whose imports have been impeded by Mongolia’s dependence on the rail systems through China or Russia to transport goods to and from the pacific. This level of dependency has upset Mongolia, which claims that China takes advantage of its isolation by buying Mongolian coal for less than it’s worth. There is very little competition for Mongolian exports, even Russia only makes up 1.5% of Mongolian export value, preferring to export to, rather than from, Mongolia. Mongolian officials have tried to reach out to other nations, most recently Japan and the DPRK, but the government can only do so much to escape the limitations of its physical location.

Foreign investment in the mining sector has spurred serious economic growth; for a period of time Mongolia had the world’s fastest growing economy, the mines provided better jobs for Mongolians and fostered urbanization to replace the pastoral nomadic lifestyle that remained pervasive throughout the country. However, this massive influx of investment now represents the vast majority of the economy; so in recent times where commodity prices have slumped for Mongolians and international confidence in the Mongolian government is low, growth has been significantly stunted. In response the Mongolian government formed a super-coalition last December consisting of members from all major parties attempting to deal with the economic problems. The main policy goals of the coalition were to alleviate the economic downturn by reducing the government restrictions on mining to get foreign investment back on track while continuing to pursue economic ties with nations outside China and Russia.

This series of policies gets to the root of the Mongolian problem: Mongolia cannot prosper without foreign investment and by opening itself up to political and economic influence from interests that have very little concern for the welfare of Mongolia or its inhabitants. Mongolia’s vulnerability to the economic interests of its neighbors means that its needs from Russia and China translate into political capital that undermines Mongolia’s economic and political independence.

First published by the International Policy Digest under the title Mongolia: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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Diplomacy

The evolution of the concept of diplomacy

Sajad Abedi

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Transformation in diplomacy, like the transformation of other international scenes of international relations, has not stopped at a specific point, and whenever the global structure of transformed diplomacy has changed. Throughout history, various forms of diplomacy have been observed between countries and governments. This development is due to the activity of various factors, and as long as the factors of transformation remain, the process of transformation remains. The new age in international relations has been marked by significant developments in diplomacy. In explaining the dimensions of this evolution, we use the term “modern diplomacy” against classical diplomacy. This paper tries to highlight the historical milestones of this evolution and its components.

The increasing role of global awareness, the diminished governance of states, the growth of information and communication technology, and the growth of non-state actors are among the main factors contributing to the development of diplomacy. Diplomacy involves managing relations between governments and government relations with other Actors. With the changes in the international system, the focus and content of diplomacy have also changed and, as in the past, they are not focused on top policy. In the traditional understanding of realism of international relations, the actions of governments are influenced by tangible factors of power and the content of diplomacy is also a matter of war and peace. In the new environment, new issues such as illegal immigration, human rights, terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, environmental risks, proliferation of arms, transnational trade, financial, economic, non-proliferation, human rights and aid issues Humanitarian, AIDS, population pressure, the prevention of indigenous and ethnic conflicts, and other crises and challenges beyond the international community that traditional diplomacy alone cannot cope with through the methods available. In other words, diplomacy in the information age includes wider areas of economic, social, cultural, environmental, scientific, legal and traditional political and military factors, and the issues of the underlying policy are more important in the agenda of diplomacy.

The five main tasks that the diplomatic apparatus does is to collect information and data, political advice, representation, negotiation, and consular services in a new international environment. New functions have also been developed: helping to enforce international regulations, representing the interests of various state and private actors, facilitating the establishment of relations between national and transnational entities, coordinating the activities of various actors in the interests of national interests, the importance of the policy of convincing and image More flexibility in foreign policy issues, crisis management in the new international environment, the development of transnational flows and the increasing role of non-state actors. Many of these tasks are withdrawn from the monopoly of the diplomatic apparatus and are carried out by new actors, while governments are still the most important actors in international politics. But at the same time, they have to divide their duties and responsibilities with diverse, broad-based, state-owned, non-state actors, transnational, and sub-national actors in different fields.

Changing the content of diplomacy, its implementation and guidance has also changed. In this new international environment, the existence of complex diplomatic relations between actors with various interests and boundaries is unclear. This undermines the role of governments in monopoly conduct and enforcement Issues and issues of foreign policy. Prior to the departure of information technology, ambassadors and diplomatic representatives had more relative credibility and independence to conduct diplomatic affairs, such as negotiating and representing duties. In traditional diplomacy, the true role of diplomats was, depending on their personal capacity, the power of the government and the powers given to them by the governments. Diplomats were aristocrats from the upper classes of the community. Bilateral relations were important to them. The protocol and procedures were of great importance.

However, as a result of the development of these technologies, the duties and responsibilities of diplomats have been subject to fundamental changes, and the facilitation of extensive and direct contact with governmental and non-governmental entities across national borders has been facilitated. If the main duties of diplomats prior to this change, the delivery of the message Leaders of countries, attending various ceremonies and formalities, sending information and negotiating, and sometimes making decisions when needed, have now changed these tasks for the sake of high-tech messaging. From the aspect of ceremonial ceremonies and diplomatic events, the concepts of these traditions have changed. In terms of sending information, the role of diplomats has lost much of its importance and also because of the natural circumstances of diplomats, diplomats consider that instead of persuading one or more people should be held accountable to public opinion and diplomatic talks It has been outsourced to a multilateral shape. In the current era, governments usually prefer diplomacy by politicians rather than diplomats. Between the heads of high-level media, private and informal relationships have been created, and the private diplomacy of heads of state and meetings, meetings, negotiations and treaties has increased. However, despite all the changes made in the implementation and guidance of diplomacy, the role of diplomats and their diplomatic expertise cannot be denied.

With the telecommunication revolution, the increase in information and the exchange of information between different countries, on the one hand, the world has become smaller and convergence has increased among countries, and on the other hand the international system has become more complex. These transformations have portrayed the role of diplomats in such a way that the existence of communications devices such as radio and television, and diplomats with more delicate tasks. On the other hand, increasing communication has had a great impact on one of the other responsibilities of diplomats, namely the gathering of information, since the spread of a variety of communication tools has made it possible to more accurately aggregate information. The Internet also created virtual communities to engage people in foreign countries that are not limited to geographical boundaries. The rapid transfer of information from mass media and new communication technologies such as satellite and Internet has ultimately led to a change in public opinion and Directions to it are intended to take advantage of new tools.

The use of new technologies in diplomacy plays an important role in facilitating and expediting negotiations, exchanging and accessing information, expediting exchanges, influencing public opinion and increasing global relations, and making the diplomatic apparatus of the countries more efficient. In the past, traditional national security tools, such as diplomacy, have addressed the physical effects of national power, such as military power and economic power, but these are not suited to new challenges and new international environments. As a result, soft power, public diplomacy, thematic, specialized diplomacy are the main elements of new diplomacy that must be met with countless actors with different interests.

Most new tools for dealing with the new challenges come from information, awareness, and out-of-state control of the state and associated with modern communication technologies. The ability of diplomacy to face new challenges and threats requires structural reforms in the use of modern tools and techniques. Today, diplomacy requires communicating with the public media, which requires special attention. “Advertising” and “public opinion” are two of the most influential factors in diplomacy. There is now a close relationship between diplomacy and the press and mass media. The broad range of people’s access to information through satellite and computer networks has flooded the socio-political environment and brought dynamism and transparency into the political literature of the twenty-first century.

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Diplomacy

Potentials of cultural diplomacy in Iran- Belgium relations

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Term ‘Diplomacy’ stands for guiding of relations between individuals, groups, and nations and it is one of political terms used in the field of international ties. Under current conditions in the world, rather than the subjects which have proposed on diplomatic discussion between various countries such as commercial relations and cultural and scientific ties, this concept plays important role in improvement of world peace and international security. Basically, diplomacy is an important tool for realization of national interests within political, economic, and cultural relations between nations and diplomacy requires for adaption of special and professional forms of interaction between agents of nations in various fields e.g. politics, trade, and cultural ties etc. so that it is discussed about political diplomacy, economic diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, and public diplomacy and the like.

The cultural diplomacy is deemed as one of the efficient and important techniques in relations between nations that aim to improve cultural, scientific and educational relations which will be consequently led to enhancement of political and economic relations as well. This type of diplomacy looks for deepening of cultural relations among the countries and improvement of relation and interdependence between them and upgrading of level of recognition and perception of various international environments and it is implemented through different tools such as educational and academic relations and holding of various conferences and academic communications, exchange of teacher and students, educational and researching cooperation, artistic exchanges (cinema and theatre etc.), games and sports, festivals and holding of book fair etc. and currently this type of diplomacy has devoted high capacity at the international arenas.

Principally, Iran and Belgium are two important and influential countries in both Asian and European continents and improvement of communication between these two countries may lead to strengthening of relations among Europe and Asia and the Middle East.

Due to geographic situation, high population (over 75 million), wide economic market, cultural and civilization potentials, and power for influence in Islamic world, Iran enjoys high potential effect in Asia, the Middle East, and Islamic world and at the same time Belgium is a country with approximately 11million peoples is also deemed highly important in Europe for the following reasons: Firstly, the presence of several wide road arteries, great ports and significant airports has converted Belgium into a transit hub at Europe; furthermore, this country enjoys the annual volume of foreign trade up to 700 billion Euros and possesses advanced industries including in the field of transportation etc. secondly, this country is the headquarter of European Union (EU) and the related institutes and for this reason it is called as European capital ‘ therefore, it highly influences in Europe EU. At third place, Belgium is presently the fifth trading partners for Iran among EU countries where the existing potentials can be developed.

The scientific and cultural cooperation is the complementary dimension for these potentials which may have synergic effect on relations between two countries and cultural diplomacy id the foremost tool in such communications. One of important examples of these potentials is the educational and researching relations between two countries as well as holding of joint meetings, conferences and workshops and exchanges of cultural and artistic products for which this diplomacy may prepare the ground for improvement of relations other cooperation fields. Accordingly, in addition to contribution to interests of both countries, such diplomacy can pave the way for more extensive relations among Europe and Iran and even under current conditions when the world suffers from insecurity, extremism, and terrorism, such scientific and cultural relations and interaction and communications between elites of two nations can contribute to creation of common perception of threats to which the world peace and symbiosis is exposed in order to strengthen moderate and peaceful discourses among Islamic world and the west.

First published in our partner Mehr News Agency

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Diplomacy

Using science diplomacy in the South China Sea

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Despite White House efforts to deny well-established climate change reports and U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, most might question the wisdom of laying down a science — led peace-building plan in the contested South China Sea disputes.

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