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Mongolia's bumpy journey to independence

Former satellite state was long at the mercy of Russia and China

The parliament building in Ulaanbaatar (Photo by Shinya Sawai)

HONG KONG Once the master of the Eurasian continent, controlling a fourth of the global land mass at its zenith, Mongolia was at the mercy of its powerful neighbors Russia and China in more recent times.

Mongolia declared independence from its Qing dynasty overlords on Dec. 1, 1911. The announcement came shortly after the Xinhai Revolution erupted, an event that ended the dynasty once and for all the following year. Led by Bogd Khan, a spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Mongolians sought to wrench themselves free from over 200 years of Chinese rule. The new government wanted to create a "greater Mongolia" that included the Chinese-controlled Inner Mongolia.

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