THE MONGOLIAN PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC was undergoing a major transition in the development of its government and political institutions in the late 1980s. Beginning in 1984, the country had embarked on a program to restructure its political and economic system in ways that engaged the entire population and made it responsible and accountable for the country's modernization. Much of the inspiration for this program came from the Soviet Union's examples of glasnost and perestroika.
Nevertheless, in developing its policies, Mongolia's senior leadership displayed a realistic awareness not only of the severe challenges, but also of the opportunities, afforded by Mongolia's unique political, social, economic, and geophysical conditions. There were efforts by mid-1989 to revive key elements of the Mongolian cultural heritage. This effort apparently was inspired by the recognized need to instill vitality in a polity long stifled by the wholesale imposition of Soviet models. Openings to the West, including the 1987 establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, increased Mongolia's options within the international diplomatic community and provided additional developmental models. Finally, by mid-1989, the gradual normalizing of Sino-Soviet relations had helped significantly to reduce the tensions inherent in Mongolia's strategic location, enveloped between these giant countries, which facilitated a resurgence of Mongolian national identity and allowed a small measure of Mongolian political independence.
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