[LETTERS to the editor]Friendship with Mongolia

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[LETTERS to the editor]Friendship with Mongolia

Kim Joung-won says in his column (“Friendship must be worked at,” Dec. 1) that Mongolia’s friendship is worth working at.
This is certainly true. Mongolia is bordered on the north by Russia and on the east, south and west by China. Its total borderline is 8,162 kilometers long, 3,485 kilometers of which is with Russia and 4,677 kilometers with China.
It is about 600 kilometers to Beijing from the nearest point on the Mongolian border. Terrain covering half that distance, and extending right around the easternmost tip of Mongolia ― thus bisecting Manchuria ― is the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia.
Although the country is sparsely populated, landlocked, and subject to extremes of temperature, President George W. Bush was anxious to visit. Why? It was the Mongols who built the largest land empire in world history during the 1200s. They reached the Danube. Baghdad fell in 1258.
Shah Jahan constructed the Taj Mahal in the early 1600s. That ruler of South Asia was a Mughal (the term comes from the Persian word mughul, meaning a Mongol).
And it is less than 800 kilometers from the easternmost tip of Mongolia to the Yalu River.
Mr. Kim wrote: “I am envious to see Mongolia successfully develop as a democratic country based on a market economy, in contrast to North Korea. At the same time, we also need to remember that as Mongolia’s strategic importance grows bigger, the strategic value of South Korea becomes relatively smaller. A turning point is now provided for the United States’ security line that connected Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, to expand to a new defense line that would connect Mongolia and India.”
I met former President Natsagiin Bagabandi in San Francisco in late July 2004, just after he met with President Bush in Washington, D.C. Our translator was a young Mongolian woman who had graduated from Kyung Hee University, Suwon’s Graduate School of Pan-Pacific Studies. A small world indeed.

by Richard Thompson
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