Inner Mongolian People’s Party Chairman Temtsiltu Shobtsood, a long-time advocate of rights for ethnic Mongolians living in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, warned Taiwanese to be cautious when dealing with Beijing while recounting Mongolians’ struggle for freedom and human rights.
“You must be very careful when dealing with the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] regime, because it follows no moral guidelines, and if it seems that the CCP is doing something good for you, it must be doing it for a reason and when it gets what it wants, it will not hesitate to break its promises,” Shobtsood, who now lives in exile, said in a recent interview in Taipei with the Taipei Times.
“When a democracy like Taiwan deals with China, it’s like a gentleman dealing with a gangster — the gentleman will suffer in the end because he honors his word and carries moral responsibilities, while the gangster does not,” he said.
Shobtsood said that although he believes that the chances of a Chinese military invasion of Taiwan are minimal, “you’ve got to be careful because China would infiltrate Taiwan in any way it can think of — and it is willing to promise Taiwanese anything they desire [to achieve its aims].”
Shobtsood said he holds these views based on the experiences of ethnic Mongolians in Inner Mongolia.
Although a sizable Han Chinese population has migrated to Inner Mongolia since the late 19th century, more recently the Chinese government has been actively encouraging Han Chinese to settle in Inner Mongolia, saying that the policy is aimed at helping the region.
“Right now, the Han Chinese population vastly outnumbers ethnic Mongolians in Inner Mongolia and they [Han Chinese] control most of the region’s natural resources, largely through ownership of mines,” Shobtsood said.
There are about 20 million Han Chinese in the region, accounting for 80 percent of the population, while there are only 3 million ethnic Mongolians, he said.
“What Mongolians are facing is an issue of life and death,” Shobtsood said. “With the presence of a large Han Chinese population and government policies aimed at exploiting Mongolians, the survival of our culture is seriously threatened, while the natural environment is under attack from industrial development, mining and rapid urbanization.”
According to Shobtsood, Mongolians in the region are suffering under Chinese rule, instead of prospering as the CCP regime had promised, and it was a strong sense of this crisis that led him to devote himself to the movement for freedom and human rights for ethnic Mongolians.
“Mongolian students — mostly college students and some high-school students — across Inner Mongolia rose up in demonstrations against a policy announcement by Beijing to move more Han Chinese into the region in 1981,” Shobtsood said. “I was a student at Inner Mongolia University at the time and I didn’t hesitate to join the protest and later I became the spokesman for the student movement.”
The students went on strike for 28 days and protests across Inner Mongolia continued for three months.
“The Chinese government originally planned to crack down on the student protests, but it didn’t because the movement had broad support among ethnic Mongolians. Even some ethnic Mongolian CCP members voiced their support [for the students] in public or in private,” he said.