Inner Mongolia, Outer Mongolia

The History of the Division of the "Descendants of Chinggis Khan" in the 20th Century

by Sunho Kim (Author)
©2022 Prompt X, 174 Pages


The Mongolian Empire, which reigned over the Eurasia Continent, was a great empire in the Middle Ages. Now, however, it is a divided nation, with a current population of about 10 million people, all of whom are distributed throughout the region, which makes contact with borders of the east, west, north, and south of (Outer) Mongolia. This book aims to offer a thrilling exploration of Mongolia’s past, present, and future in the context of Mongolians in the 20th century.
This book details the region’s historical development for the first half of the 20th century by tracing Mongolia’s history with rare materials. In addition, the relationships between both Inner Mongolia and China, and Outer Mongolia and Russia, are analyzed in-depth. Then, accounting for the second half of the 20th century, the author offers an in-depth analysis of Inner and Outer Mongolia, which have changed greatly since the era of reform and their opening-up. These exciting analyses are based on field surveys conducted by the author every year since 1990.
Through synthesizing forty years of studies on Mongolia, including field surveys, the author analyzes the modern relationship between Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia, organized by subject and period. Also, the author argues that a unified Mongolia could become a serious threat to neighboring countries, such as China and Russia, in part because Mongolians are gathering under a spiritual leader named Chinggis Khan. Therefore, the question pursued in this book is: How can modern-day Mongolian achieve cohesion, thereby re-establishing a unified Mongolia? In response, this book argues that unification could be attained by linking Mongolia’s economic development, political stability, and maintenance of cultural identity, and to do so based on "Chinggiskhanism" in a post-reform era. In this comprehensive 20th-century history of Mongolia, readers not only can come to understand why Mongolia became divided into two regions, Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia, but also readers will come to understand Mongolia’s socio-cultural relationship with China. Truly, this book can serve readers as an opportunity to better understand the "development of relations for former glory between Mongolian peoples" based on the change in relationship between Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia after undergoing significant reforms and opening up.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Chapter 1 Introduction
  • Chapter 2 Independent Outer Mongolia and Chinese Autonomous Inner Mongolia (1911–1978)
  • 1. The Collapse of Qing Dynasty: Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia
  • 2. Outer Mongolia’s Pro-Soviet Regime and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
  • 3. The Cultural Revolution in Inner Mongolia and Confrontation between Outer Mongolia and the PR China
  • Chapter 3 The Reform and Opening-Up Policy in Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia, from 1978 to 1989
  • 1. China’s Reform and Opening-Up Policy in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
  • 2. “Perestroika” in the Soviet Union and the Mongolian People’s Republic (Outer Mongolia)
  • Chapter 4 A Turning Point of Fate for Inner and Outer Mongolia (the Tiananmen Square Incident in 1989 and the Outer Mongols Reform in 1990)
  • 1. The Tiananmen Square Incident in 1989 and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
  • 2. The Revival of the Democratic Tradition in Outer Mongolia
  • Chapter 5 The Aftermath of China’s Reform, Opening-Up, and Rise
  • 1. A Friendly Relationship in Appearance
  • 2. Internal Conflicts
  • Chapter 6 Cultural Identity Issues
  • 1. Inner Mongolia’s Cultural Identity Issues
  • 2. Outer Mongolia’s Cultural Identity Issues
  • Chapter 7 Conclusion
  • Epilogue
  • References
  • Index
  • Series index

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Chapter 1


Strictly speaking, modern Mongolia is a divided nation similar to Korea. In particular, their 20th century’s history has the characteristic of showing the pain of a nation that became divided because of external influences rather than internal conflicts. Because of the separation policy of the Manchus toward the Mongol tribes, the division of Mongolia began well before the founding of the Qing dynasty in 1644. After the establishment of the Manchu Qing, Mongolia was largely divided into Inner Mongolia, which was conquered by Abahai, and Outer Mongolia, the home of the Khalkha Mongolians, which was occupied by the Kangxi Emperor. Furthermore, Mongolia was constantly divided into leagues(盟) and banners(旗), and the Mongols were prohibited from crossing tribal boundaries (越界禁止). With this strict separation policy, Mongolia became completely divided.

After the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Mongolia had the opportunity to be re-unified. However, the fragility of the government of the ruling Bogdkhan (living Buddha: Leader of politics and religion), the corruption of the nobles and religious forces, and the 300-year long division of the Mongols ruined the opportunity of unification. Undeniably, ←1 | 2→the external influences of the quarrel and territorial disputes among China‘s Kuomintang (國民黨) government, northern warlords, and other surrounding powers were greater. The Mongolian unity, which could have eventually developed into the so-called Pan-Mongolism, had its roots cut off.

Outer Mongolia, under the direct influence of the Soviet Union in the 1920s, established the Mongolian Republic in 1921 (renamed the Mongolian People’s Republic in 1924). Inner Mongolia organized the first minority autonomous government in the People’s Republic of China in 1947 (two years before the founding of the People’s Republic of China), which means that the Mongols started their modern history of another division by an external force. After the Mongol national identity was threatened by the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s and by the direct influence of the Soviet Union in the 1970s, Inner and Outer Mongolia experienced a new turning point from the 1980s. In other words, since the beginning of the reform and opening policy of the People’s Republic of China in 1978 and the reform and democratization policy of Mongolia in 1989, the relationship between the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China and Mongolian People’s Republic has developed in various fields.

In this historical background, this research seeks to understand the influencing factors on various areas. That is, the internal relations between the Mongolians will be analyzed, and the external changes will be examined through the analysis of the development of the relations between Russia and Outer Mongolia, and between China and Inner Mongolia.

In the research methodology, the starting point of the relationship change was approached historically. Inner Mongolia in the stream of the Sinocentrism, and Outer Mongolia in the relationship with the Soviet Union based on ideology of the 20th century, are the starting points of the 20th century that solidify the division history of Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia. And then, the institutional differences such as independence and autonomy of Mongolians according to the interests of the great powers such as China and the Soviet Union (Russia), and the differences in the perception of the Inner and Outer Mongols will be examined. Also, I will focus on the cultural identity of Inner and ←2 | 3→Outer Mongols according to the reform and opening policy, linked with the analysis of the political and economic exchanges.

Basically, this approach method has the purpose to understand the implicit meaning of the independence of Outer Mongolia and the elevated autonomy (高度自治) of Inner Mongolia which has internal threats of Sinocentrism. In addition, I deal with issues of the cultural identity of Inner and Outer Mongolians and issues of economic, political, and international relations in order.

This is an objective and comprehensive academic methodology approach to research, highlighting “Area Studies” and “Kulturwissenschaft.

The second half of this book is an objective analysis of China‘s reform and opening policy’s influences toward the changes of Inner Mongolia, the influences of the Soviet Perestroika on Outer Mongolia, and the identity of Mongolian national culture.

Since the reform and opening policy of Deng Xiaoping (邓少平) in 1978, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has concentrated all its capabilities on economic development. Although the population of Han Chinese is higher than that of the Inner Mongolians, the Mongols of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region also have an important status in economic development.

The Outer Mongolia, through its democratization movement (Шинэчлэл: New Revolution) in 1989, has taken the form of a state called Mongolia. It escaped from being a Soviet satellite country for over 50 years and has appeared on the international stage, where economic development becomes a top priority. In this field of economic development, the Inner Mongols and the Khalkha Mongols of Outer Mongolia together are devoted to speedy development.

However, 11 years ago, Inner Mongolia, which focused on economic development in accordance with Chinese reform and opening policy, showed a fundamental difference from the Outer Mongolia. In other words, it is wealth, that is, the Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China (Inner Mongolia), versus poverty, that is, the independent Mongolian state (Outer Mongolia).

After all, in the political arena, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was regarded as a province under the strong influence of the ←3 | 4→Beijing central government, even though the economic development was very rapid. In other words, political sovereignty was so weak that there was no clear concept of autonomy other than economic development as a result of active Han Chinese migration. On the contrary, Mongolia (Outer Mongolia), through political reform, has revived a traditional Mongolian democracy in a short period of time, which concentrated on economic development.

Since the reform and opening policy of Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia, the official response of Outer Mongolia has been very careful about the active exchange in the field of politics, economy, society, and culture with Inner Mongolia. However, there was an internal concern about the policy of only giving priority to economic development in Inner Mongolia. Therefore, an uncomfortable relationship between the people of Outer Mongolia and Inner Mongolia in China has existed. In fact, when I visited Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, as the reform of the 1990s and the liberal democracy movement were on the horizon, most of the university students in Outer Mongolia criticized the Chinese government which resolved the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989 by force. And some students even strongly condemned the Beijing regime‘s oppression of Mongolians in Inner Mongolia. The results of the election of Outer Mongolian leaders in the 1990s showed an extremely ideal form of democracy, which proves that Outer Mongolia’s political reform priority was right.


X, 174
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (March)
Inner Mongolia, Outer Mongolia: The History of the Division of the 『Descendants of Chinggis Khan』 in the 20th Century Sunho Kim Mongolia Inner Mongolia Outer Mongolia China Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region Russia Mongolian Peoples Republic Uighur Mongolian Cyrillic Mongolian Mongol-Chinese border
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2022. X, 174 pp., 13 b/w ill., 7 tables.

Biographical notes

Sunho Kim (Author)

Sunho Kim received his PhD in Mongolian studies, Chinese studies, and political science from Bonn University in Germany. Formerly a professor at Busan University of Foreign Studies in Korea, currently he is serving as the director of the Institute of Asian Minority Studies. During 2001–2017, he published 36 research papers and 10 books. The research papers were published in Korean, English and German, and are worthy research to understand contemporary Mongolia, China, and the relationship among Mongolia, China, and Korea. His publications include Inner Mongolia, Outer Mongolia—Modern History of the Ethnic Division (Korean) in 2014 and Area Studies on Mongolia (Korean) in 2018.


Title: Inner Mongolia, Outer Mongolia
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184 pages