Population: 4 million (total population including Chinese: 24 million)
Area: 1.8 million km²
Religion: Shamanism, Buddhism
UNPO REPRESENTATION: Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC)
Southern Mongolia is a Mongol autonomous region that falls under the People’s Republic of China. The region borders the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Gansu and borders, to the north, Mongolia and Russia. It has an area of 1.18 million km² occupying 12% of China's land area and has a population of 23, 84 million as of 2004.
The Mongols comprise around 17% of the total population of Southern Mongolia, which includes many diverse Mongolian-speaking groups, such as the Buryats and the Oirats, all of whom are officially considered as Mongol. According to a 2004 census, 4 million Mongols were living in Southern Mongolia. In addition to this, there are more than half a million Mongols living in other regions of China such as Eastern Turkistan (Xin Jiang) , Khokhnuur ( Qing Hai), Kharamuren ( Hei Long Jiang ), Kirin ( Ji Lin ), Liao Ning, and Bei Jing .
The official languages of Southern Mongolia are Standard Mandarin and Mongolian.
Mongol script was adopted approximately 800 years ago by Genghis Khan, who based this language on ancient Uighur, a "vertical" script that is written from top to bottom. The Mongol language belongs to the Mongolian branch of the Altaic Family and has an alphabet of 23 letters. During Mongolia’ long history, various leaders have tried to create new scripts such as Kublai Khan, who had ordered the Tibetan Lama Paspa to create a new script. The first Khutugtu Gegen of Khalkha Mongol, Ündür Gegen Zhanabazar had also created a type of Mongol script, the Soyonbo script. However, these scripts did not prevail as they were not as popular as Uighur script. In the 1940’s, under the Soviet Union’s influence, Mongolia changed its official Uighur script to Cyrillic, but the classical Mongol script is still used in Southern Mongolia.
During the past 50 years, as a result of millions of Chinese farmers’ excessive cultivation on the sensitive soil of Southern Mongolia, one of the world’s most beautiful grasslands is turning into desert. Furthermore, the ecosystem has been disrupted due to the Chinese government’s plundering of rich natural resources found in pine forests and coal mines, the building of high-pollution plants in Southern Mongolia, has also had a negative effect on the environment.
As Southern Mongolia is so diverse many different forms of subsistence can be found there, such as the farming of wheat in the river valley areas, the herding of goats and sheep in the grasslands, forestry and hunting which is carried out in the Daxingan (Greater Khingan) in the east and reindeer herding practiced by the Evenks in the Evenk Autonomous Banner.
Southern Mongolia is home to an abundance of resources that include coal, cashmere, natural gas, rare earth elements, and has more deposits of natural niobium, zirconium and beryllium than any other province in China. Southern Mongolia is an important coal production base.
Generally, industry in Southern Mongolia has developed around coal, power generation and forestry-related industries. However, the region has shifted its focus on various competitive industries such as energy, chemicals, metallurgy, equipment manufacturing, processing of farm (including dairy) produce as well as hi-tech products.
From the day Genghis khan founded the Great Mongol Empire in 1206 to the death of the last Grand Khan of the Mongols, Ligdan Khan in 1634, the Mongol nation had been an independent state for more than 400 years.
During the Ming Dynasty of China (1368-1644), the Mongols and the Chinese warred with and tried to rule over each other, but Chinese dominance had never extended beyond the Great Wall. The Mongol Empire lasted until the Jorchid era, otherwise known as the Manchu people, who conquered entire Southern Mongolia in 1634.
During Manchu rule, the Mongols had never ceased their efforts to reestablish an independent Mongolia. Galdan Boshogtu (1645-1697) of Dzungar Mongol once succeeded to unite all the Dzungar Mongols (or western Mongols) and the Khalkha Mongols (Outer Mongols) and almost seized Peking, the Capital of the Manchu Empire.
In 1911, following the collapse of the Manchu Empire, the Mongols tried to reestablish an independent state. However, Chinese warlords took advantage of the Mongol nation’s weakness at that time, and forced the Mongols to submit. After 10 years of struggle, Outer Mongolia (or Khalkha Mongol) proclaimed its independence in 1921 as The People's Republic of Mongolia, but Southern Mongolia, a major part of Mongol territory, remained under the Chinese warlords’ tight control.
Since China’s takeover of Southern Mongolia, millions of peasants were settled to Southern Mongolia. Excessive cultivation backed by the warlords turned the great grassland into vast desert. The Mongols depended on the grasslands for survival but were forced to abandon their homeland and move to remote places. Meanwhile, some decided to fight for the freedom of their homeland but eventually fell, under the guns of their invaders.
Prince Demchegdongrov (or De Wang, Teh Wang), however, almost succeeded in establishing an independent Southern Mongolia. Born as a direct descendent of Genghis Khan, he dedicated his life to establishing a self-ruling, independent Southern Mongolia. On July 26, 1933, De Wang held his first Conference on Southern Mongolian Self-rule and declared the Southern Mongolian government as a highly self-ruling government. This government lasted until 1945. By the end of WWII, a joint Soviet-Mongolian army forced the Japanese to end the War and when this army entered Southern Mongolia, despite calls for independence, refused to liberate the Southern Mongolians. Under the Treaty of Yalta, Stalin handed over Southern Mongolia to China.
On May 1, 1947, the Chinese Communist Party declared their first puppet Autonomous Region, the current Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region and since then, the Southern Mongolians have suffered under the most brutal rule they have ever experienced.
CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT
The vast grasslands have always been symbolic of Southern Mongolia. Mongolian art often depicts the uplifting grassland scenes, emphasizing the nomadic traditions of the Mongol people.
Mongols follow Tibetan Buddhism, a branch of Buddhism that is exercised in Tibet. This religion differs to that practised by the Chinese, who follow a branch of Buddhism that originates from India. In turn, the practise of Tibetan Buddhism was banned by the Chinese authorities and all the temples in Southern Mongolia were destroyed. Lamas (monks of the Mongols) were forced to lead a secular life.