2.5 Manchu domination While the Mongols of present day Inner Mongolia acknowledged Manchu suzerainty in 1634 with the defeat of Ligden Khan (prior, in fact, to the establishment of the Qing dynasty), the Halh were not to submit until 1691.[18] At this time, looking to defeat the Züüngars with whom they had contested for control of the steppe, the Halh, led by the ruling secular nobles and the Javzandamba Hutagt, submitted to the Manchus at Doloon Nuur in Inner Mongolia.

The Manchu struggle against the Züüngar was to last until the 1750s. At that time, they enlisted the aid of a Züüngar general, Amarsanaa, who was looking to increase his personal power. He managed to decisively crush the power of the Züüngars, but when denied what he felt was due him (complete control over the defeated Züüngars; they offered instead control over one of the four groups), he rebelled against the Manchus. Chingünjav, a Halh noble ruling the Hoitgoit (in north-western Mongolia) also rebelled at this time, although his rebellion appears to have been more economically motivated (see Bawden 1968 and Sanjdorj 1980: 63-64). They managed to inflict a considerable amount of damage and even made overtures to the Russians for assistance. The Javzandamba Hutagt wavered, however, and without his support, no major commitments of aid would be made. In the end, however, the rebellions were crushed, with Amarsanaa dying in Siberia, and Chingünjav being executed by the Manchus.

Bawden suggests that for most of the eighteenth century, "the Manchus were quite uninterested in the economic or social development of Mongolia," using it instead as chiefly a buffer with the Russian Empire (1989: 83). While making sure the nobles wielded no real power, the Manchus were interested in maintaining the nomadic lifestyle, at least in Halh Mongolia, although by this time, nomadizing was restricted by administrative boundaries. Outer Mongolia, as it came to be known, served as a buffer between the growing Russian Empire and the rest of the Manchu Empire.

During this period as well, the Mongol nobles took up an increasingly extravagant lifestyle. The burden this placed on the commoners, as well as the taxes and obligations due Beijing, devasted the economy. Many people, commoners and nobles alike, were heavily in debt to the Chinese traders. The situation was more severe in Inner Mongolia, where nobles often sold off their land in an attempt to repay debts.

As time went on the Manchu policy toward Mongolia became increasingly colonial, in a set of reforms known as the "New Administration". The number of (Han) Chinese traders and colonists allowed in Ar Mongol increased, and the Mongols were worried that, like Inner Mongolia, they would become a minority in their own land. The late nineteenth century was marked by a number of riots against the Chinese, which usually included the destruction of shops (Bawden 1989: 173-4).

Similar discontent was to be found with the Lamaist hierarchy. While the lower ranks of lamas often lived in poverty, the highest ranks lived opulently and immorally. Although some lamas called for a reform of the Church, "their voices were lost in the degeneracy of the late nineteenth century, in the collapse of personal morality and responsibility, and the transformation of the Church into a commercial enterprise to the detriment of its spiritual vocation" (Bawden 1989: 161).

The last two Javzandamba Hutagts in particular "gave no example of morality. The seventh very early on gave himself up to drinking, whoring, and homosexuality... The eight, too, was a drunkard and syphilitic, of all-embracing sexual tastes" (Bawden 1989: 165). It should be noted, however, that many of the faithful in fact did not hold these traits (or at least his wife) against the Eighth Javzandamba, figuring that an action of a living Buddha must be acceptable by the very fact that it is performed by a god. Current opinions on his political abilities are split between those who see him as a mere figurehead, and those who see him as an astute politician. We shall return to this issue in Chapter Six.

2.6 The Bogd Khaan period
With the fall of the Manchu dynasty in 1911, the Mongolians proclaimed their independence in December of that year.[19] Fighting against the Chinese, with some aid from the Russians (which was given belatedly), was to continue until August of 1912. Further fighting was to take place in 1913, but this was in present-day Inner Mongolia, and was part of an attempt to create a pan-Mongol state. Indeed, during much of the Bogd Khaan (1911-1921) period and even afterwards, there were attempts to include Inner Mongolia and Tanna-Tuva (but not, apparently, Buriatia) under the new Ar Mongol regime.

The new state was a theocracy, headed by the Eighth Javzandamba Hutagt (a Tibetan), who was installed on 29 December, 1911, who was known as the Bogd (Holy) Khaan. With his ascenscion to the throne, the (nominal) separation of power into the secular and religious spheres, the dominant political model since the time of Altan Khan, effectively collapsed. Secular nobles were to be found in the new government, but they remained under the control of the Bogd Khaan.

There were to be no substantial social or economic reforms during this period. The ones that were undertaken have been characterized as "generally superficial and ineffective" (Ewing 1980: 36). In addition, the reforms were often strongly opposed by the higher-ranking lamas, who saw them as a threat to their power and privileges.

These reforms, such as modernizing the army, systemizing education, and the beginnings of journalism, left the social structure essentially unchanged, although it can be argued they were indicative of a trend towards secularization (Ewing 1980: 79). It is not clear to what extent the Javzandamba was influenced by new ideas in China and Japan, but other nobles, such as Prince Gungsangnorbu of the Harchin (in Inner Mongolia) were strong proponents of reform and modernization (Jagchid 1988b).

Although they had proclaimed their independence in 1911, the Mongols were not granted international recognition. (Except, somewhat quixotically, in a treaty of mutual recognition signed with Tibet in 1913, which was in a similar position. The treaty was promptly ignored by everyone else.) The 1915 Treaty of Khiakhta, between China, Russia and Mongolia acknowledged Mongolian autonomy, but under Chinese suzerainty. Despite this, the dominant influence in Mongolia was to be Russian. Buriat Mongols from Siberia, heavily Russified culturally, were to play important roles during this period.

In 1919, Hsü Shu-Tseng (known as Little Hsü), a Chinese general, capped off increasing Chinese intervention by taking Ih Hüree by force.[20] (Although the Mongols had been negotiating a return to Chinese rule, albeit with greater autonomy, in response to what was generally seen as the failure of the Bogd Khaan government.) In response to the invasion, two secret socialist circles -- the Consular Hill Group and the East Hüree Group -- were formed. It was chiefly from these two groups, which merged in June 1920, that the Mongolian People's Party, which was to become the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MAHN -- Mongol Ardyn Huv'sgalt Nam) was created.

The Chinese were to be defeated in March 1921, at a battle at Khiakhta, led by Sühbaatar (for a brief account, see Onon 1976: 174ff). Although not a decisive victory for the country as a whole, it was a landmark event. After the battle, Sühbaatar and the other partisans established a Provisional Government in Khiakhta, in opposition to the restoration of the Bogd Khaan in Ih Hüree.

Continue on to the next part of the chapter (Socialism and after)


18. The major work on Mongolian history from 1691 to the present is Bawden's (1989).

19. While Bawden (1989) does cover this period, a fuller account can be found in Onon and Pritchatt (1989); see also Ewing (1980).

20. Ih Hüree, present day Ulaanbaatar, was the capital of Mongolia during the Bogd Khaan period.

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