Panel on Transportation and Resources in Mongolia at “Mongolia and Northeast Asia Peace” Conference in Ulaanbaatar
Emanuel Pastreich had the opportunity to head a panel of experts for a discussion of opportunities and challenges in the energy, transportation and natural resources sectors held at the Global Peace and Leadership Conference “Mongolia and Northeast Asia Peace.”
The Global Peace and Leadership Conference “Mongolia and Northeast Asia Peace” (August 25-27, 2011) was a remarkable event bringing together wide range of individuals and groups committed to a peaceful and fair approach to social, cultural, economic and institutional integration in Northeast Asia. The choice of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia as the site has particular significance as Mongolia is a new power in the debate on Northeast Asian integration. As an emerging economic center, with vast mineral resources and a tradition of leadership in both Central Asia and Northeast Asia, Mongolia has been visited recently by Korean President Lee Myung Bak and United States President Joseph Biden (Vice President Biden was still in town when our conference began on August 25).
The Mongolians are a people of remarkable vitality who made a deep impression on the participants in the conference. President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj led a seminar on the history of the Hun Peoples that was part of the conference. President Elbegdorj was an official sponsor for the conference. A fluent speaker of English with an international perspective, President Elbegdorj has played a central role in raising Mongolia’s profile and creating a broader discussion about future of the region. Foreign Minister Gombojav Zandanshatar hosted conference presenters for a dinner at the State Palace.
Mongolia has extremely strong ties with both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, suggesting a possible role in finding a long-term solution to the divided peninsula and the further integration of Northeast Asia. The attention Mongolia is drawing because of its natural resources, and its potential growth rate in the next decade, make it uniquely poised to play this role.
The conference was striking in its focus on methods for assuring peace and integration in Northeast Asia. Also, the Global Peace Festival Foundation, the organizing institution for this event, made sure this topic was at the center of discussion. Also, there a group of youth from Mongolia, Korea, Japan and other nations attended the conference after completing their own public service program. The presence of young people was refreshing indeed. Rarely are there youth at discussion about economic and security issues—even though youth are the most effected. Also, there were several groups of religious leaders from varied backgrounds, including Muslim, Buddhist and Christians who carried on their own dialog on the role of faith in the building of a peaceful order.
The panel entitled “Cooperation in Energy, Transportation and Natural Resources for Northeast Asian Peace and Security” was significant in that it sketched out how rather subtle institutional cooperation could lead the way to significant institutional change.
Emanuel Pastreich, Professor of Humanitas College, Kyung Hee University, began with a discussion of the importance of transportation and natural resources for integration, harking back to the European Coal and Steel Community and its critical role in laying down the foundations after the Second World War for European integration.
Dr. Shurkhuu Dorj, Director of Institute of International Studies at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Mongolia, gave a detailed presentation on Mongolia’s present efforts to develop natural resources such as coal, copper and gold. The detail of his report made it particularly useful.
Dr. Lakhvinder Singh, President of the Indo Korean Business and Policy Forum, gave a presentation of the state of India-Mongolia cooperation in the economic, cultural and political realms, suggesting that India could also play a vital role in the peaceful integration of Northeast Asia.
Professor Chu Shulong of Tsinghua University spoke of China’ rapid economic development and gave a series of concrete suggestions as to how Mongolia could benefit from the experiences of China as it enters into a period of rapid economic growth.
Former minister of Science and Technology Dr. Rhee Shang-Hi (currently Director General, Gwacheon National Science Museum) spoke about the opportunities and challenges presented by Mongolia’s significant uranium deposits, urging international cooperation.
Finally, Mr. Markku Heiskanen, Vice Chairman of the Finland – Northeast Asia Trade Association and Senior Policy Associate, The Asia Institute, spoke of the importance of transportation, particular rail transportation, as a impetus to integration.
The panel inspired an intense discussion between attendees that continued on after its conclusion. A similar panel is planned for the follow-up Global Peace Convention to be held in Seoul November 29-30. And there are plans in the works for a larger conference in Pyeongyang in 2012.