UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Anti-Chinese attitudes in post-communist Mongolia : the lingering negative schemas of the past Jargalsaikhan, Mendee


This thesis examines “anti” attitudes in general and anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia in particular, to answer the puzzle: Why do anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia still persist after both nations have enjoyed friendly, neighborly state-to-state relations for more than two decades? The argument is made that anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia are persistent because of lingering impacts of artificially-consolidated negative schemas about China, Chinese people, and their culture from the 1960s-1980s. Mongolian political elites at that time institutionalized anti-Chinese attitudes, introducing only negative schemas, while blocking all other sources for positive or neutral schemas about China. Nevertheless, Mongolian political elites’ attitudes toward China became noticeably positive since mid-2000 due to increased interactions, information, and the changing economic reality despite of the fact that unfavorable views of China and the anti-Chinese attitudes have still dominated the media, blogosphere, and public discourses. The main reason for the gap between attitudes of the political elites and the public can be explained by a reluctance of the political elites and intellectuals to de-construct the past schemas because of its diacritic purpose to differentiate Mongolian identity in addition to material realities. This thesis also contends that anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia are a variant of a global anti-Chinese phenomenon. The “anti” attitudes are explained by three main reasons: a power imbalance, a backlash against economic activities, and conflicting identities. In this regard, the Mongolian case study is an excellent entry point to understand the causes and consequences of anti-Chinese attitudes in the small, developing, democratic Chinese neighbors. This thesis uses analytical approaches for a similar phenomenon, anti-Americanism, and extensively uses the notion of schema, as developed by Katzenstein and Keohane (2007) in their conceptualization of anti-Americanisms.

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