“However, after finishing school, I couldn’t get a job due to my participation in the student movement. At that time, you couldn’t look for your own job, but had to wait for the government to assign one to you,” he added.
Unable to gain regular employment, Shobtsood worked as a part-time teacher and ran a bookstore, while also spreading his political ideas and taking part in underground organizations.
Eventually, he escaped to Germany, where he sought asylum in 1991 after learning that the Chinese government was going to arrest him on a charge of inciting students against the government.
Shobtsood said that while he was living in Inner Mongolia, and for the first few years after he arrived in Germany, he dreamed of a Mongolian state that consisted of Inner Mongolia, the independent nation of Mongolia and Mongolian republics in Russia. However, in recent years, he has turned to what he considers a more realistic solution to the Mongolian issue.
“A more realistic option for the future relationship between Inner Mongolia and China would be a confederation,” Shobtsood said. “Don’t get me wrong, I still hope that Inner Mongolia can become fully independent, but that goal may have to be left to future generations.”
Shobtsood said independence may not be achievable now because there are already 20 million Han Chinese living in Inner Mongolia.
“We cannot kick them out. Just because the Chinese government exploited Mongolians doesn’t mean that we Mongolians should do the same to the Han Chinese. We have to respect them,” he said. “We protest China’s violation of Mongolians’ human rights, so we should not violate the rights of Han Chinese in Inner Mongolia.”
Shobtsood said that to achieve unification of all Mongolian regions, ethnic Mongolians would have to be prepared to go to war with Russia and China at the same time, adding: “I don’t like wars.”
“The most important guidelines in my mind are peace and the protection of human rights,” he said. “A political leader may be prepared to sacrifice himself or herself, but he or she should not be prepared to sacrifice others. It’s not what a responsible politician should do.”
Shobtsood said that a precondition for the creation of an Inner Mongolia-China confederation is the democratization of China, adding that he believes that China will eventually become democratized if it continues to open up economically.
“Of course, a democratic China may not be willing to stop exploiting Mongolians in Inner Mongolia, but there is no doubt that China is becoming more integrated into the international community. If and when it becomes a democracy, other countries would not just sit by and watch Beijing do whatever it wants to minorities,” Shobtsood said.
Holding onto his hopes for Inner Mongolia’s future, Shobtsood said that he also has hope for Taiwan after speaking with Taiwanese from across the nation during his stay.
“China is certainly ambitious regarding Taiwan, but most Taiwanese I talked to are aware of this, and most importantly, all Taiwanese — including those descendants of Mainland Chinese who left China since 1949 — whom I’ve met identified themselves as Taiwanese instead of Chinese,” Shobtsood said. “It’s important to know who you are.”