Interviewee: Morris Rossabi
Interviewer: Jayshree Bajoria
July 10, 2008
Rising commodity prices have made Mongolia's largely unexploited mineral resources—coal, gold, copper, and uranium—attractive investment opportunities for mining companies around the world. But violent protests (NYT) prompted by opposition allegations of fraud in the June 29 parliamentary elections have made the fate of investment deals uncertain. A Central Asia expert and professor at Columbia University, Morris Rossabi, says the protests resulted from growing frustrations—significant income disparity, high levels of unemployment among young males, official corruption, fraying of the social safety net, and alcohol consumption. Rossabi says the political chaos should make foreign companies wary of the kind of investments they make in Mongolia. "Things may stabilize but I don’t foresee that unless the government is more serious about dealing with some of the basic social and economic problems of the country," he says.
Mongolia's neighbor China is its largest trading partner and investor, accounting for around 40 percent of the country's total foreign direct investment. "China is very eager to get access to Mongolia's resources but the question here is not merely economic," Rossabi says. He warns that economic influence often translates into political sway as well. Rossabi says China has been successful in convincing Mongolia to subscribe to some of its ideas about the Dalai Lama and Taiwan. In his opinion, China's growing influence in Mongolia does not bode well for the fledgling democracy nor does it serve U.S. interests. But he says the United States harmed its reputation in Mongolia by pushing tough economic reforms in the early 1990s that led to some of the country's current social and economic problems. "We have to focus on a different kind of approach, still emphasizing democracy," but moving away from limited government and reduced spending on health, education, and welfare.
Maximalist finds lessons in the past that anticipate and clarify our chaotic present, revealing the history of U.S. foreign policy in an unexpected new light. More
This clear and authoritative book presents a sweeping account of China's global resource quest and the unrivaled expansion of its economy. More
The story of the tragic and often tormented relationship between the United States and Pakistan, and a call to prepare for the worst, aim for the best, and avoid past mistakes. More
This Independent Task Force asserts that elevating and prioritizing the U.S.-Canada-Mexico relationship offers the best opportunity for strengthening the United States and its place in the world.
This Independent Task Force report finds that as more people and services become interconnected and dependent on the Internet, societies are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks.