Are Mongolians Chinese? This is a question that has been asked time and again by people around the world. No, we’re not. But why is this such a confusing question? Well, it turns out that the answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Mongolians and Chinese people are actually distinct ethnic groups with unique cultures and histories. In this article, we’ll dive into the history of Mongolian and Chinese relations, explore how Inner Mongolia became part of China, and highlight the difference between Mongolian and Chinese culture and language. So, if you’re ready to expand your knowledge and clear up any confusion, let’s get started.
The Misconception that Mongolians are part of China
The misconception that Mongolians are a part of China is prevalent due to various reasons. One of the primary reasons is the geographic location of Inner Mongolia, which is an autonomous region located in Northern China. However, this region is inhabited by ethnic Mongolians who have their own unique language and culture. This has led to confusion over the years, with many assuming that Mongolians are a part of China.
Additionally, Mongolia, which is an independent country located north of China, is often lumped together with China due to their history. Chinggis Khan’s grandson Kublai Khan once ruled over China during the 13th century. This historical connection has led many to assume that Mongolians are an ethnic group of China.
However, despite these historical and geographical ties, it’s important to recognize that Mongolians and Chinese people are distinct ethnic group with their own unique identities and cultures.
The history of Mongolian and Chinese relations
The history of Mongolian and Chinese relations dates back to over 2000 years ago. During the Han dynasty in China (206 BC – 220 AD), the Chinese and Xiongnu people, who were Mongol tribes were in constant conflict. However, after a series of diplomatic negotiations, they established a peaceful relationship in the first century BC, with the Chinese recognizing the Xiongnu’s autonomy and allowing them to trade with the Chinese.
In the 13th century, the Mongol Empire, led by Chinggis Khan, conquered much of China, Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty, which lasted until the 14th century. During this time, the Mongols ruled over the Han Chinese. The famous explorer Marco Polo also traveled to China during the Mongol era and wrote extensively about his experiences.
After the fall of the Yuan Dynasty, relations between Mongolia and China became strained. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Chinese repeatedly attacked Mongolia, and there were numerous wars between the two countries.
Mongolian and Chinese Culture and language
The Mongolian and Chinese cultures have unique identities, which are characterized by different social structures, traditions, and customs.
One of the most striking differences between the two cultures is language. The Mongolian language belongs to the Altaic language family and is written in the traditional Mongolian script. In contrast, the Chinese language belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family and is written using Chinese characters.
Mongolian culture is heavily influenced by nomadic pastoralism and their history as conquerors. The Mongolian nomad people have a deep respect for their animals and nature, which reflected in their traditional practices. In contrast, Chinese culture is shaped by Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism.
How Inner Mongolia Became part of China
Mongolia lost Inner Mongolia to China during the late 17th century when the Manchu Qing dynasty conquered both Mongolia and China. At that time, the Mongols were already weakened by internal conflicts and had been divided. This made it easier for the Manchus to defeat Mongolia and incorporate into their empire.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Manchus consolidated their rule over Mongolia and Inner Mongolia. The Manchus established the Eight Banners system, which divided the population into different military and administrative units based on ethnicity and social status. Inner Mongolia was placed under jurisdiction of the Qing dynasty’s border guards, who were responsible for maintaining security and collecting taxes.
The Qing Dynasty, which ruled over both Mongolia and China, collapsed in 1911. After that, Mongolia quickly declared its independence, but the situation in Inner Mongolia was more complicated. While some Inner Mongolian princes requested to join Mongolia. In response, the Mongolian military launched the 5 Road Battle, a campaign to unite all Mongolians. Despite initial success, the war was ultimately unsuccessful as Russia did not support it and Mongolia withdrew troops, leaving Inner Mongolia under Chinese control.
The roots of Russia’s decision can be traced back to the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905, where Russia and Japan were engaged in a bitter struggle for power in the region. After the war, Inner Mongolia was designated as Japan’s sphere of influence, and any move by Russia would have viewed as a direct challenge to Japan’s authority.
In 1915, Mongolia, Russia, and China signed three-state treaty, which recognized Chinese sovereignty over Inner Mongolia while granting Mongolia limited autonomy under Chinese suzerainty. This arrangement was short-lived as the Chinese government was soon destabilized by warlordism, political corruption, and the Japanese invasion in the 1930.
The path to recognize Mongolia’s independence was far from straightforward. In 1924, The Soviet Union threw its weight behind Mongolia’s re-declaration of Independence, recognizing as the Republic of Mongolia. Fast forward to 1945, and Mongolia found itself caught in the midst of another conflict – the Japanese invasion of China. Together with the Mongolia, Soviet Union defeated Japanese, and in the aftermath of the war, China recognized Mongolia’s independence. However, Inner Mongolia remained under the Chinese control.
In decades that followed, the Chinese government implemented various policies aimed at integrating Inner Mongolia into the broader Chinese state. These policies included the settlement of Han Chinese in the region, the promotion of Mandaring as the official language, and the suppression of Mongolian language and culture. These policies generated resentment among the Mongol population and have been a source of tension between Inner Mongolia and Chinese government. Despite the efforts of the Mongol independence movement, Inner Mongolia remains a part of the China.
During that period, the aspirations of Mongolians and Inner Mongolians to unify were evident, and numerous endeavors were made to achieve this objective. However, all these efforts ultimately proved futile as powerful nations such as China and Russia prioritized their own interests over the wishes of these peoples. During this crucial period, many prominent political and social figures from Mongolia and Inner Mongolia perished untimely.