A two day international symposium on the geopolitics and geoeconomics of Mongolia’s natural resource strategy was held at Selwyn College, Cambridge, on 19-20 March, 2013. Ogranised by the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit (MIASU), the symposium also co-hosted with the Mongolian Embassy in the UK a special panel and gala reception to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mongolia-UK relations. As the first western nation to establish diplomatic relations with Mongolia on 23 January 1963, the UK holds a special place in Mongolia’s international diplomacy and it is now Europe’s biggest business partner with Mongolia. The symposium featured such distinguished speakers as His Honourable Mr Amarjargal, former Prime Minister of Mongolia; Prof. Enkhtuvshin, president of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences; Sir Paul Judge, key benefactor of Cambridge Judge Business School; Robert Court, Global Head of External Affairs, Rio Tinto; and Ann Puntis, Chief Executive of University of Cambridge International Examinations.
Conceived within the framework of HEIF 5 funding, the symposium provided a forum for closely examining the cultural, social, political, and above all geopolitical and geoeconomic factors that may propel or hamper Mongolia’s transformation from a pastoral economy to a mineral resource-based industrial society. Leading experts from Mongolia proper, its two territorial neighbours – China and Russia, and its ‘third neighbours’ – Japan, UK and continental Europe, spent two days scrutinising a variety of topics ranging from the mineral trade to transnational traffic, from practices of financing mineral industry to infrastructural development, from natural resource depletion to human resource flight. Combining insights from front-line businessmen and politicians, and in-depth academic analysis, this symposium navigated competing international interests in exploiting Mongolia’s natural resources, and to provide different perspectives on Mongolia’s strategic culture in business and politics.
The symposium was presented a book entitled Trans-Continental Neighbours: A Documentary History of UK-Mongolia Relations, edited by Cambridge University’s Dr Uradyn Bulag together with Professor Altangerel the former Mongolian Ambassador to the UK, and Dr Chuluun and Dr Shurkhuu from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. The proceedings of the symposium will be published by MIASU soon.
A new consensus emerged that Mongolia’s natural resource and infrastructure development require urgent and in-depth research. MIASU is eager to institutionalise this consensus by providing academic platform to study a Mongolia in the process of rapid transformation, and a public forum for dialogues between academics and Mongolian and international business and political leaders and local communities.