During the Second World War Mongolians helped the Soviets to defeat Germany’s Nazis. But now, ultra-nationalistic Mongol groups are after the ethnic Chinese.
A neighbourhood in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia
They want to, as they say, keep the Mongolian blood pure from any other ethnicity. The far right group Dayar Mongol take their cue from Neo-Nazis in Europe. They march through the capital of Ulan Bator waving swastika flags, giving the Hitler salute.
Bat Enkhayer is the spokesman of the group. He says that the Chinese are responsible for the underdevelopment of the Mongolian economy and social injustice within the country. "Mongolia will be benefited only after the Chinese are out of the country."
The capital Ulan Bator
Increasing Chinese investments
A huge stake of foreign direct investments is being placed by China in Mongolia. Mongolia is rich in coal and other natural resources. And Chinese companies are dominating the mining and construction business.
But as all far right groups, Dayar Mongol preaches xenophobia against foreigners. For Bat Enkhbayer the Chinese are the worst. "Chinese people should leave our country. We will drive them out of Mongolia - all Chinese, children of Chinese-Mongolian couples or Chinese with Mongolian nationality."
Dayar Mongols members are not even averse to physical attacks. They target Mongolian women who have a relationship or sexual interaction with Chinese men. Members of the far right group shave such women’s heads. And sometimes tattoo their foreheads - in an eerie parallel to the numbers tattooed on the arms of Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz in Nazi Germany.
Low support for nazi Mongols
There are no clear numbers regarding the membership of the group, or their caims to be of pure Mongolian blood. The Mongolian historian and social scientist Nyam Puruv of Ulan Bator thinks that the support of the Nazi Mongols among the Mongolian society is rather low. "The Dayar Mongol may have made much noise two years ago. But nowadays they don’t have much influence in Mongolian society. They pretend to have thousands of members. But in my opinion, there are maybe some dozens, especially the young and the frustrated who have radical thoughts, have little education or are unemployed. "
But though there have been some actions against Chinese citizens, Nyam Puruv thinks that Mongolia is still a safe place for foreigners to visit: "The Mongolian society is not xenophobic at all. Far from it, The government is executing a kind of open-door-policy, which sets a high value on tourism and cultural exchange. Mongols are actually well known for their hospitality. I don’t think it is dangerous to be in Mongolia, whether for Chinese or for tourists."
Is the Soviet Union to blame?
Experts say that the Mongolian xenophobic attitude towards China can be traced back to the country’s past under the thumb of the Soviet regime. Moscow’s leaders regularly used the threat of China to ensure the Mongols' allegiance.
When the Soviet Union crumbled and Mongolia began its transition to a market economy, the country’s traditionally nomadic life fell apart - leaving poor social services and education and growing social disparities.
It remains to be seen whether Mongolian authorities can tackle the country’s social problems to dry up whatever support there might be for Mongolian far right groups.
Author: Wang Fenbo/ Chi Viet Giang
Editor: Arun Chowdhury