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Mongolia Expels Hundreds of Chinese Truck Drivers

Jun. 17 – 2point6billion.com has unconfirmed reports from Mongolia’s South Gobi region, home to much of the nation’s mining industry, that hundreds of Chinese truck drivers have been turned back to the China border.

There has been no official commentary on the issue, however we understand that it is linked to three main aspects concerning cross border transport and China-Mongolia relations. At the heart of the matter is the current status of both nations concerning their recognition of cross border transport protocols as determined by the international organization Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR).

In brief, Transports Internationaux Routiers (International Road Transport) is an international customs transit system and is the only universal transit system that allows goods to transit from a country of origin to a country of destination in sealed load compartments with customs control recognition along the supply chain. This minimizes administrative and financial burdens and customs duties, and taxes that may become due are covered by an international guarantee.

The crux of the matter relates to the key fact that Mongolia is a member and China is not. One aspect of the treaty relates to haulage operators and the drivers of such trucks. Mongolia permits the access to Mongolia’s road system by licensed foreign drivers, while China does not. To date, goods vehicles from China have been using Mongolian facilities with local Chinese drivers, while Mongolian vehicles and drivers are denied direct access to China past a certain point.

The situation has also flared up we have learned due to the perception that allowing Chinese drivers to transport haulage across Mongolia is damaging to Mongolia’s unemployment issues, and is affecting the ability for Mongolian drivers to find work. That is fast becoming a political issue as Mongolia has national elections next year.

Also impacting on the issue is the “general attitude” of Chinese drivers in Mongolia, many of whom apparently seem to regard the nation as a vassal state to China and have been known to treat the Mongolians poorly. This is a side effect of the Chinese education system which has often claimed Mongolia as Chinese territory. Additionally, the incident in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region last month, in which a Chinese truck driver ran over a killed a Mongolian herder, has again impacted on the way in which Chinese drivers are seen to behave towards ethnic Mongolians.

While there is no doubt that the current status, if correct, of Chinese truck drivers being expelled from Mongolia is undeniably politically motivated, it does call into question the failure of China to join organizations such as the TIR that seek to better manage and monitor cross-border trade. China’s refusal to cooperate with such entities may now start to come under pressure from other nations that in the past have turned a blind eye to Chinese drivers operating overseas. The spirit of reciprocity has yet to extend to permitting foreign drivers to operate in Chinese territory, and that stance may now come under pressure.

Related Reading

A Tale of Two Mongolias

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4 Responses to Mongolia Expels Hundreds of Chinese Truck Drivers

  1. Timur Baber says:

    It does sound a bit like “having ones cake and eating it”. I fell upon a motorcycle journey blog called “thepostman.org”. The hero on an Australian lightweight motorcycle wanted to enter and transit through China on an around the world ride. He was told he would have to pay for a “minder” to accompany him. It turns out that any would be bike cross globe traveller will likely be put off by all the visa, papers, bribes and obstacles put in his or her way. I bought a bike, ran it in gently and had special racks made for my sabbatical, and it just is one obstacle after another. China, I have been told, I must see, and a cycle or bike is a good way to see it. Or would be. It is not just “lorry” politicking, I was looking for a wife! Well, that is sorted now thanks to cyber travel. But I wanted to meet in the old fashioned way, and I have missed that chance.

  2. Baagii says:

    This is interesting! All these are happenning when Prime Minister Suh-baatar Bat-bold paid an official visit to Beijing, and President Tsahia Elbegdorj paid a state visit to US, and Inner Mongolians are fighting with the Chinese to save their lands and culture!

    I bet the Mongolian government is under huge public pressure to do something with these Chinese truck drivers given the public hostility to China is all time high in Mongolia due to the protests and arrests in Inner Mongolia!

  3. Buruugui says:

    The Mongolian government shouldn’t have allowed any Chinese drivers roaming around Mongolia freely first place. This is not “politically motivated” action but the duty of the Mongolian government for protecting their national interest and their citizen rights.
    Secondly, the “general attitude” of the Chinese drivers toward the Mongols is not “a side effect of the Chinese education system” but it is something deep-rooted in their culture. Anybody who grown up in China as non-Chinese is well aware of what is attitude of the ordinary Chinese toward the non-Chinese people. In fact, they call any foreigners 老外 “ugly/stupid foreigner” and call Mongolians 老蒙古 “ugly/stupid Mongolian”. My personal experience is that they always show superior attitude toward the non-Chinese and look down on anything non-Chinese.

  4. WJM says:

    Considering the motorbike sample, driving in China has three more problems/obstacles, that exist hardly anywhere else the in the world:

    - since several years, motorbikes are not only banned from many city centres, but also from highways

    - you need a Chinese license plate

    - you need a Chinese drivers license

    (the latter is more an bureaucratic obstacle than a problem; it just takes time and money)

    Anyway, having participated in an oldtimer rally from Germany to China (through Siberia/Ulan-Ude/Kachta), I can assure you that not only the ‘minders’ themselves are a pain in the ass, but the convoy is also surrounded by mysteriously blinded vehicles, day in day out….yet unlike the minders, they never show up at your hotel, and you will never see any of them stepping out of the car, or even lowering a window, showing their faces, but the next day they are there, again.

    Freaky stuff you thought only existed in books from George Orwell.

    AFAIK, only Saoedi-Arabia shows more paranoia, no foreign vehicles whatsoever, as per the travel report from Jim Rogers: “Investment Biker: Around the World with Jim Rogers”.

    It also makes the Millenium Road Project, connecting Europe to Asia, a silly farce….

    PS, no less bizarre: once you *have* that Chinese drivers license (we got one valid for 6 years, due to deadlines & creative solutions (bureaucracy variates with Chinese province/contacts/payment….;)), you can pick up just any rental car in China, and drive wherever you want….8-))

    (a similar crazy problem exists in the context of rental campers in China: you can rent one, as a foreigner, but you get that pesky ‘minder’ included….but no, he doesn’t sleep inside the camper, he will sleep in a tent outside)
    (also, I was told by a Chinese that the job of being a ‘minder’ doesn’t require much talent/screening; anyone with a certificate for English-language *and* some patriottic communist crap can apply, to the point that you could even select a person on purpose, way in advance (so that you at least have some nice company, instead of a paranoid jerk or freak)
    (also imagine the practical problem of travelling with a 2-seater offroad camper, and suddenly needing one more seat (or the ‘minder’ must have it’s own car, doubling the price pro day (about 200 euro/day versus 100 euro/day, if I recall correctly))
    (this problem also applies to motor bikes of course!)

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