The implications of the rise of China's military for Mongolian security
Miller, Alice L.
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China is transforming the People's Liberation Army (PLA) into an effective fighting force with power projection capability. The main objective has been to fill the gap between the PLA and leading military forces. China's military forces modernization coincides with its rapid economic growth and growing energy and resource needs. For these reasons, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders put forward new missions of the PLA, which may include securing China's interests abroad. This process certainly impacts indirectly, if not directly, Mongolia's security. Like other countries, Mongolia does not choose its neighbors. Hence, the geopolitical reality of living between its large neighbors, China and Russia, thus defines its fundamental security interests. Though Beijing is not likely to use force against Mongolia, and China and Mongolia currently enjoy friendly relations, it is uncertain how long this will last. Despite having no immediate external threat, China has continued modernizing its military with great ambiguity. Therefore, not only Mongolia, but also Western countries, including the United States, are wondering why China is pursuing these ambitious military modernization effort. Mongolia's underdeveloped economy, small population, absence of financial and technological capabilities, and rich natural resources certainly attract both big neighbors' attention. In particular, China has a particular interest, since its economic development requires lots of energy and resources. China may thus easily absorb Mongolia's economy, which affects every aspect of the security of Mongolia. Unfortunately, the history of Mongolia demonstrates episodes of difficult bilateral relations with both Moscow and Beijing. Therefore, this thesis argues that Mongolia must implement and maintain multilateral foreign and security policy with respect to both big neighbors, while effectively seeking a "third neighbor" to balance against China and Russia. Because, it is very difficult to assure Mongolia's security using military force, Mongolia must rely on diplomatic and political measures. In addition, Mongolia's military must also remain an effective tool supporting broader national security objectives.
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