Railways, Resource Booms, and Transnational Politics in Mongolia

Executive Summary: Dr Uradyn Erden Bulag

UK Partner Institution: University of Cambridge

Department of Archeaology and Anthropology

Entangled Lines:
Railways, Resource Booms, and Transnational Politics in Mongolia

Project Title:

In partnership between MIASU, Cambridge University and IIS, Mongolia, this project studies the critical role of the Mongolian railway in relation to the burgeoning mining sector and Mongol-Chinese-Russian economic and geopolitical relations. Mongolia has recently announced plans to build 5,683 km of new railways in three phases. But instead of a short line of c. 270 kms from the mines to the Chinese border, it has opted for a costly 1,100 km line to link to the existing Trans Mongolian railway and beyond to the Russian railway in the first
phase, in order to create a balance of interests between China and Russia and to increase revenue from mineral exports. The decision has cast the railway onto centre stage in the nation’s resource boom and raised questions about its priorities for economic and geopolitical transformation. Transnational and interdisciplinary in perspective, the project will contribute to the understanding of a vital system that will have significant implication for Mongolia’s economy, its relations with its neighbours, and even regional stability.

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