Some are saying China is actively erasing Mongolian culture in its latest effort to purge the Mongol Empire from history, making a bizarre demand for a French museum to remove the name “Genghis Khan” from an exhibition about the warlord.
The French museum at the Château des ducs de Bretagne in Nantes had collaborated with the Inner Mongolia Museum in Hohhot, China with a focus on the 13th century tyrant whose empire swept across Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Europe.
Following demands by Chinese authorities for creative control over the exhibition, the museum was forced to postpone the display.
The Associated Press reports that the Chinese Bureau of Cultural Heritage, which serves as a strongarm for the Chinese government in the depictions of Chinese culture worldwide, demanded the museum remove the words “Genghis Khan,” “empire,” and “Mongol” from the exhibition. The authorities also demanded power over exhibition brochures, legends, and maps.
The museum's director Bertrand Guillet said in a statement that the exhibition was being postponed for three years due to "acts of censorship of the central Chinese authorities,” adding that “we made the decision to stop this production in the name of the human, scientific and ethical values that we defend.”
The original plan was put on hold by Chinese authorities who demanded that the museum make changes to various elements of the exhibit “including notably elements of biased rewriting of Mongol culture in favor of a new national narrative.” The museum condemned it as a form of censorship, stating that it emphasized a “hardening… of the position of the Chinese government against the Mongolian minority.”
In August, Chinese authorities imposed a policy of removing lessons in the Mongolian language in its Mongol-speaking regions, favoring Mandarin Chinese language classes.
The Diplomat reported that the move to stifle the Mongolian language prompted widespread protests in Inner Mongolia, with over 300,000 students going on strike. In response, central authorities in Beijing published lists of suspected ringleaders and put bounties on their heads for arrest, resulting in thousands of arrest warrants being issued.