A note on Huhhot

Jargal Defacto Admin
Jargal Defacto Admin 97 Views
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This Defacto World travel story is on Inner Mongolia or Southern Mongolia, as called by Mongolians. The region’s economy, specifically the milk production and consumption, history of Southern Mongolia, and the modern city of Huhhot are elaborated here.

Southern Mongolia is vast region with a land area of 1.2 million square kilometers, bordering Mongolia and Russia. It is one of the five autonomous regions of China. The population is 24 million, with 4 million ethnic Mongolians. The region is rich in natural resources with big deposits of iron ore and coal and even takes the first place in the world for rare earths reserves.

Southern Mongolia has experienced intensive development in the last two decades through its smart use of minerals in supplying the needs of Chinese industries. Its GDP as of the end of 2022 was 344 billion USD and GDP per capita was 14,343 USD.

The number and composition of the herds are similar to Mongolia’s with 32 million sheep, 30 million goats, 4.7 million cows, 4.2 million horses and 900 thousand camels. We visited the world-renowned dairy producer – Yili.

Production and consumption of milk

Milk is an important source of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium. This is why some countries have dedicated milk programs for schoolchildren. The two biggest dairy producers of China are both located in Southern Mongolia. Yili takes up 21% of the whole milk and powdered milk market of China while the figure is 16% for Mengniu.

Yili group was first established in Huhhot in 1957 and underwent a corporate restructuring in 1993 to become a group. A certain percentage of this public company, currently located in the Jinshan Development Zone, is owned by the Huhhot Municipality. In 2008, 290 thousand babies were poisoned and six died due to melamine – a chemical used in plastic production being found in the baby formula produced by this company. After this case, the Chinese government tightened its requirements for food supplies and production exponentially.

In 2019, Yili Group acquired Westland Co-operative of New Zealand, which was established in 1937 and is the third largest dairy producer of the country. The group now has 81 factories and 67,000 employees worldwide, and is one of the top five milk producers in the world. It is China’s biggest producer of milk, powdered milk, baby food, ice-cream, and cheese among many other foods. Yili is now the third best food brand in the world.

China’s milk production reached reach 41 million tons in 2023, showing an of 28 percent compared to 2019. In 2022, China imported 1.5 billion USD worth of milk, being the second biggest importer of milk in the world after the US. Half of the imports were from New Zealand, and the rest from Germany, France, Australia and Poland. Most of the 25 million USD in milk exports that year went to Hong Kong.

The milk consumption amount was 20 million tons for US in 2023 while China consumed 16 million tons. When it comes to milk consumption per person, Finland leads the world with 260kg a year as of 2021. The Chinese, on the other hand consumed 34kg, which indicates the great growth potential in their milk production. Moreover, Mongolians consumed 193kg and Russians consumed 154kg per person in 2021. (ourworldindata.org).

History of Inner Mongolia

Huhhot is home to a major museum, the Inner Mongolian History Musuem. The first floor shows natural exhibits and the 3rd and 4th floors show the historical exhibits.

There is a 1330 map of Yuan Dynasty (1279-1388), established by Kublai Khan, a grandson of Chinggis Khan. The Dynasty spanned an area stretching from Lake Baikal to Ural Mountains. The subsequent dynasty was the Ming (1366-1644), with its map of 1433 on display. To the north of the Ming Dynasty, Northern Yuan existed covering the area of modern Mongolia and Lake Baikal region. In the meantime, the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) map of 1820 depicts Khalkh and Oirat lands which were subject to the Manchu.

Northern Yuan was a country led by Dayan Khan Batmunkh, who united Mongolic peoples but the country did not last long. According to the historian Baabar, the domain of Northern Yuan covered the lands from Khinggan Mountains to Altai Mountains and from Lake Baikal to the Great Wall of China. The eastern three tumens (peoples) were Tsakhar, Khalkh and Uriankhai. The western three tumens were Tumed, Oirat and Yunsheebu. The Tumed were the strongest group of people and their leader Altan Khan founded Huhhot in the beginning of 1500s. Eventually, the Mongol lands which joined the Manchu Qing Dynasty were called Inner Mongolia whereas the parts which became a dominion with special priviliges were called Outer Mongolia.

Altan Khan spread Buddhism in his domain and commisioned the building of Ikh Zuu or Dazhao temple in 1557. When the temple was completed in 1580, Huhhot grew around it. A large statue of Altan Khan stands in front of the temple. Around the same timeline in 1585, Abtai Sain Khan rebuilt on the old ruins of Karakorum temple and renamed it Erdene Zuu.

About the city of Huhhot

Huhhot is the capital of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. This city with 500 years of history is home to 3.4 million people. Ethnically, the population is 84 percent Han Chinese, 8 percent Mongolian, and others. Administrative divisions include 4 counties, 4 districts and 1 banner.

Huhhot has wide roads with each main road having 3 lanes in each direction complimented by wide bike lanes, surrounding greenery, pedestrian sidewalks, and supporting minor roads. The good planning results in the absence of traffic jams.

The east and south parts of the city were built with a combination of high-rise buildings with modern architectural solutions and large green spaces. The banks of the large river flowing across the south of the serves as a sports and recreation area.

The ger quarters of the city which stood there twenty years ago have been completely replaced by residential buildings. My driver said that the price of one square meter in the apartments is 11000 yuan or 1600 USD, and it can be cheaper in the old city to the west.

Everybody spoke Chinese and some of the Mongolians spoke Mongolian. Twenty years ago, all buildings and streets had Chinese and Mongolian script on them. Food menus had two language versions. Now, however, most writings are in Chinese. In elementary schools, Chinese is taught first and then some Mongolian language lessons follow with few hours allocated to them.

This wraps up my travel stories in Southern Mongolia, a northern region of China bordering our country. I hope it is helpful knowledge for you.

Translated by Munkh-Erdene Davaajav


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