Mongolia declares independence from China

For centuries Mongolia had a tentative agreement with China that allowed it to remain a state within a state — an acceptable compromise between full independence, which Mongolia wished, and vassal statehood, which was China’s dream. When the Chinese Qing Dynsasty fell in 1911, the Mongols saw their chance, declaring independence. Mongolia had Russia on their side: once the Bolsheviks secured their hold on power in Russia, they sent troops into China to ensure Mongolia’s freedom from Chinese control.

On this day, March 13, in 1921, a provisional Mongolian government met to discuss its first actions as a legitimate body. Provisionally it headed up by the Russians, but control was soon transferred over to Bogd Kaan, Mongolia’s Holy King.

The close ties between between Mongolia and the Russia helped to cement the legitimacy of the Russian Communist Party in the early years. In the later post-war period, Mongolia served as a useful base for Russia to check its rival China’s expansion in the region.