Mongolia looks to rise out of China and Russia’s shadow – by Ishaan Tharoor (Washington Post – August 7, 2023)

In the last week of June, Mongolian Prime Minister Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene went to Beijing. He met Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People and came away with a raft of agreements deepening economic and trade ties with his southern neighbor.

But around the same time, Mongolian officials in the capital Ulaanbaatar met with Jose Fernandez, the U.S. undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, and signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on cultivating a supply chain of critical minerals and rare earth elements — resources that are key to the world’s clean energy transition and plentiful in Mongolia.

The interactions then offered a snapshot of the delicate dance played by Oyun-Erdene, whose landlocked country of some 3.4 million people remains in many ways beholden to its huge neighbors China and Russia, but whose democratically elected government is steadily working to diversify its economy and expand its ties to other powers in the region, including Japan, South Korea and the West.

Oyun-Erdene was in Washington last week, participating in meetings at the White House with Vice President Harris and separate sessions with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

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