Nomads and Commissars: Mongolia Revisited

By Owen Lattimore | Go to book overview
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4
Autonomous Mongolia: The Years
of Frustration

THE YEAR 1961 was celebrated as the fortieth anniversary of the campaigns of 1921 and the proclamation of a new Provisional Government in Mongolia. It happened to be also the fiftieth anniversary of 1911, when the Mongols had revolted against the Manchu Empire, founded their Autonomous Government, and done their best to separate themselves from China. The celebration of 1921, without celebrating 1911, means that in the official view 1911 had been only the false dawn of an old-fashioned nationalistic revolution. True revolution had begun only in 1921.

What the Mongols had wanted in 1911 was complete independence. By their rebellion against the Manchu Empire they were trying to affirm that the link between Mongolia and China was artificial. The Manchus in the seventeenth century had separately conquered first China and then Mongolia. Therefore, when the Manchus fell, the link was broken. China was free to become a republic and Mongolia to go its own way.

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