Flag of Bogd Khanate of Mongolia 1911 AD/CE to 1924 AD/CE

Capital: Niislel Khüree

1914 map of Asia.jpg

Continent: Asia

Official Languages: Mongolian

Established: 1911 AD/CE

Disestablished: 1924 AD/CE


The new government under Bogd Khan tried to seek international recognition, particularly from the Russian government. The Tsar however, rejected the Mongolian plea for recognition, due to a common Russian Imperial ambition at the time to take over the central Asian states, and Mongolia was planned for further expansion. Throughout the Bogd Khaan era, the positions of the governments of China and Russia were clear and consistent. China was adamant that Mongolia was, and must remain, an integral part of China. The (provisional) constitution of the new Chinese republic contained an uncompromising statement to this effect. A law dealing with the election of the Chinese National Assembly provided for delegates from Outer Mongolia. For their part, the Russian Imperial government accepted the principle that Mongolia must remain formally part of China; however, Russia was equally determined that Mongolia possess autonomous powers so substantial as to make it quasi-independent, so they recognised the autonomy of the region. Russian Empire could not act on the ambition due to internal struggles, which allowed Russia to claim that Mongolia was under her protection. Thus, in 1912 Russia concluded a secret convention with the Empire of Japan delineating their respective spheres of influence: South Manchuria and Inner Mongolia fell to the Japanese, North Manchuria and Outer Mongolia to the Russians. Bogd Khaan said to Yuan Shikai, the President of the Republic of China "I established our own state before you, Mongols and Chinese have different origins, our languages and scripts are different. You're not the Manchu's descendants, so how can you think China is the Manchu's successor?".

In spite of Chinese and Russian opposition, the Mongols were tireless in their efforts to attract international recognition of their independence. Diplomatic notes were sent to foreign consulates in Hailar; none responded. A delegation went to Saint Petersburg the purpose of which, among other things, was to contact European ambassadors expressing the desire for diplomatic relations. The Russians did not permit these contacts. A later delegation to Saint Petersburg sent notes to Western ambassadors announcing Mongolia's independence and formation of a pan-Mongolian state; again none responded. The Mongols attempted to send a delegation to Japan but the Japanese consul at Harbin prevented it from proceeding further.

While these efforts at obtaining international recognition continued, the Mongols and Russians were negotiating. At the end of 1912, Russia and the Mongols signed a treaty by which Russia acknowledged Mongol autonomy within the Republic of China; it also provided for Russian assistance in the training of a new Mongolian army and for Russian commercial privileges in Mongolia. Nevertheless, in the equivalent Mongolian version of the treaty, the terms designated independence were used. Both versions have the same value; so it was formally recognition of Mongolia as an independent state and its name Great Mongolian State. In 1913 Russia agreed to provide Mongolia with weapons and a loan of two million rubles. In 1913, Mongolia and Tibet signed a bilateral treaty, recognizing each other as independent states.

In November 1913, there was a Sino-Russian Declaration which recognised Mongolia as part of China but with internal autonomy; further, China agreed not to send troops or officials to Mongolia, or to permit colonization of the country; it was also to accept the "good offices" of Russia in Chinese-Mongolian affairs. There was to be a tripartite conference, in which Russia, China, and the "authorities" of Mongolia would participate. This declaration was not considered by Mongolia to be legitimate as the Mongolian government had not participated in the decision.

To reduce tensions, the Russians agreed to provide Mongolia with more weapons and a second loan, this time three million rubles. There were other agreements between Russia and Mongolia in these early years concerning weapons, military instructors, telegraph, and railroad that were either concluded or nearly so by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. In April 1914, the northern region of Tannu Uriankhai was formally accepted as a Russian protectorate.

A tripartite conference between the Russian Empire, Republic of China and the Bogd Khaan's government convened at Kyakhta in the autumn of 1914. The Mongolian representative, Prime Minister Tögs-Ochiryn Namnansüren, were determined to stretch autonomy into de facto independence, and to deny the Chinese anything more than vague, ineffectual suzerain powers. The Chinese sought to minimize, if not to end, Mongolian autonomy. The Russian position was somewhere in between. The result was the Kyakhta Treaty of June 1915, which recognised Mongolia's autonomy within the Chinese state. Nevertheless, Outer Mongolia remained effectively outside Chinese control and retained main features of the state according to international law of that time.

The Mongolians viewed the treaty as a disaster because it denied the recognition of a truly independent, all-Mongolian state. China regarded the treaty in a similar fashion, consenting only because it was preoccupied with other international problems, especially Japan. The treaty did contain one significant feature which the Chinese were later to turn to their advantage; the right to appoint a high commissioner to Urga and deputy high commissioners to Uliastai, Khovd, and Kyakhta. This provided a senior political presence in Mongolia, which had been lacking.

In 1913, the Russian consulate in Urga began publishing a journal titled Shine tol' (the New Mirror), the purpose of which was to project a positive image of Russia. Its editor, a Buryat-born scholar and statesman Ts. Zhamtsarano, turned it into a platform for advocating political and social change. Lamas were incensed over the first issue, which denied that the world was flat; another issue severely criticized the Mongolian nobility for its exploitation of ordinary people. Medical and veterinary services, part of Russian-sponsored reforms, met resistance from the lamas as this had been their prerogative. Mongols regarded as annoying the efforts of the Russians to oversee use of the second loan (the Russians believed the first had been profligately spent) and to reform the state budgetary system. The Russian diplomat Alexander Miller, appointed in 1913, proved to be a poor choice as he had little respect for most Mongolian officials, whom he regarded as incompetent in the extreme. The chief Russian military instructor successfully organized a Mongolian military brigade. Soldiers from this brigade manifested themselves later on in combat against Chinese troops.

The outbreak of the World War I in 1914 required Russia to redirect its energies to Europe. By the middle of 1915, the Russian military position had deteriorated so badly that the Russian government had no choice but to neglect its Asian interests. China soon took advantage of the Russian distractions which increased dramatically following the Bolshevik revolution in 1917.

In December 1915, Yuan Shikai, the President of the Republic of China, sent gifts to the Bogd Khaan and his wife. In return, the Bogd Khaan dispatched a delegation of 30 persons to Beijing with gifts for Yuan: four white horses and two camels (his wife Ekh Dagina sent four black horses and two camels). The delegation was received by Yuan Shikai himself, now proclaimed ruler of a restored Empire of China. The delegation met Yuan Shikai on February 10, 1916. In China this was interpreted in the context of the traditional tributary system, when all missions with gifts to Chinese rulers were considered as signs of submission. In this regard, Chinese sources stated that a year later, the Bogd Khaan agreed to participate in an investiture ceremony – a formal Qing ritual by which frontier nobles received the patent and seal of imperial appointment to office; Yuan awarded him China's highest decoration of merit; lesser but significant decorations were awarded to other senior Mongolian princes. Actually, after the conclusion of the Kyakhta agreement in 1914, Yuan Shikai sent a telegram to the Bogd Khaan informing him that he was bestowed a title of "Bogd Jevzundamba Khutuktu Khaan of Outer Mongolia" and would be provided with a golden seal and a golden diploma. The Bogd Khaan responded: "Since the title of Bogd Jevzundamba Khutuktu Khaan of Outer Mongolia was already bestowed by the Ikh Juntan, there was no need to bestow it again and that since there was no provision on the golden seal and golden diploma in the tripartite agreement, his government was not in a position to receive them". The Bogd Khaan had already been granted said golden seal, title and diploma by the Qing dynasty.

On August 4, 1919, an assembly of princes took place in Urga to discuss Semyonov's invitation to join the pan-Mongolian movement; this was because Khalkhas were threatened by a pan-Mongolist group of one Mongolian and two Buryat regiments advancing from Dauria. While that military campaign failed, China continued to increase troop numbers in Mongolia. On August 13, 1919 Commissioner Chen Yi received a message from "representatives of the four aimags", requesting that China come to Mongolia's aid against Semyonov; it also expressed the desire of the Khalkha nobility to restore the previous Qing system. Among other things, they proposed that the five ministries of the Mongolian government be placed under the direct supervision of the Chinese high commission rather than the Bogd Khaan. According to an Associated Press dispatch, some Mongol chieftains signed a petition asking China to retake administration of Mongolia and end Outer Mongolia's autonomy.

Pressure from Chen Yi on Mongolian princes followed; representatives of the Bogd Khaan also participated in negotiations. Eventually, the princes agreed on a long list of principles, sixty-four points "On respecting of Outer Mongolia by the government of China and improvement of her position in future after self-abolishing of authonomy". This document offered the replacement of the Mongolian government with Chinese officials, the introduction of Chinese garrisons and keeping of feudal titles. According to ambassador Kudashev, the majority of princes supported the abolition of autonomy. The Bogd Khaan sent a delegation to the President of China with a letter complaining that the plan to abolish autonomy was a contrivance of the High Commissioner alone and not the wish of the people of Mongolia. On October 28, 1919, the Chinese National Assembly approved the articles. President Xu Shichang sent a conciliatory letter to the Bogd Khaan, pledging respect for Mongolian feelings and reverence for the Jebtsundamba Khututktu and the Buddhist faith.

A few months earlier the Chinese government had appointed as new Northwest Frontier Commissioner Xu Shuzheng, an influential warlord and prominent member of the pro-Japanese Anhui clique in the Chinese National Assembly. Xu had a vision for Mongolia very different from that reflected in the Sixty-four points. It presented a vast plan for reconstruction. Arriving with a military escort in Urga on October 29, he informed the Mongolians that the Sixty-four points would need to be renegotiated. He submitted a much tougher set of conditions, the "Eight Articles," calling for the express declaration of Chinese sovereignty over Mongolia, an increase in Mongolia's population (presumably through Chinese colonization), and the promotion of commerce, industry, and agriculture. The Mongols resisted, prompting Xu to threaten to deport the Bogd Khaan to China if he did not immediately agree to the conditions. To emphasize the point, Xu placed troops in front of the Bogd Khaan's palace. The Japanese were the ones who ordered these pro-Japanese Chinese warlords to occupy Mongolia in order to halt a possibly revolutionary spillover from the Russian revolutionaries into Mongolia and Northern China. After the Chinese completed the occupation, the Japanese then abandoned them and left them on their own.

The Eight Articles were placed before the Mongolian Parliament on November 15. The upper house accepted the Articles; the lower house did not, with some members calling for armed resistance, if necessary. The Buddhist monks resisted most of all, but the nobles of the upper house prevailed. A petition to end autonomy, signed by the ministers and deputy ministers of the Bogd Khaan's government, was presented to Xu. The Bogd Khaan refused to affix his seal until compelled by the fact that new Prime Minister Gonchigjalzangiin Badamdorj, installed by order of Xu Shuzheng, and conservative forces were accepting the Chinese demands. The office of the high commission was abolished, and Chen Yi was recalled. Xu's success was broadly celebrated in China. January 1 and the following days were declared holidays and all governmental institutions in Beijing and in the provinces were closed.

Xu Shuzheng returned to Mongolia in December for the Bogd Khaan's "investiture", which took place on January 1, 1920. It was an elaborate ceremony: Chinese soldiers lined both sides of the road to the palace; the portrait of the President of China was borne on a palanquin, followed by the national flag of China and a marching band of cymbals and drums. Mongols were obliged to prostrate themselves before these emblems of Chinese sovereignty. That night herdsmen and lamas gathered outside the palace and angrily tore down the flags of the Chinese Republic hanging from the gate.

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