French Museum Cancels Genghis Khan Exhibition After Chinese Interference

Château des ducs de Bretagne

A French museum has postponed an exhibit about the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan citing interference by the Chinese government, which it accuses of trying to rewrite history. (Image: via Wikimedia Commons)

A museum in France recently decided not to go ahead with an exhibition of Mongol leader Genghis Khan. The Château des ducs de Bretagne history museum in the western city of Nantes said it was putting the exhibit about the 13th-century leader on hold for over three years. The Chinese government apparently interfered and asked the museum to censor some of the contents.

The exhibition

The exhibition was planned in collaboration with China’s Inner Mongolia Museum in Hohhot. But before the exhibition could open, the Chinese Bureau of Cultural Heritage pressured the museum authorities to make changes in line with their interests. The Chinese side wanted words like Genghis Khan, Mongol, and Empire to be removed from the exhibition.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

It also asked to be given control over brochures, maps, exhibition texts, etc. Beijing basically wanted to rewrite the exhibition’s depiction of Mongol history and culture in favor of a new Chinese nationalistic narrative.

Museum authorities pointed out that they had decided to halt the exhibition due to the Chinese government’s censorship and rising antagonistic position toward the Mongol minority. In China, the Mongols make up only 6.5 million among 1.4 billion people. They are largely restricted to the northern province of Inner Mongolia.

Recently, the Chinese government announced a new policy requiring that only Mandarin be used in classrooms by 2022. Mongolians are fearful that this would eliminate the importance of their ethnic language. Beijing is pushing forward the policy under the guise of assimilating minorities into mainstream Chinese culture. But in reality, the minority cultures are being eliminated systematically and replaced with a Han-dominated, communist-approved culture.

Mongol statues.
Beijing wants to erase the Mongol culture. (Image: via Pixabay)

“We made the decision to stop this production in the name of the human, scientific and ethical values that we defend,” Bertrand Guillet, director of the museum, said to The Guardian. The museum had initially decided to postpone the exhibition to the first half of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, they will be delaying it until October 2024. In the meantime, the museum will exhibit works from America and Europe.

Genghis Khan and Mongols in China

Genghis Khan was born in 1162 and was initially named Temujin, meaning “blacksmith.” His father was the head of the tribe to which he belonged. But when Khan grew up, he was initially rejected as a possible leader of the clan. At the age of 10, he killed his half-brother. Khan was captured at the age of 20 and escaped. It was at the age of 46 that he became the leader of the Mongols and was conferred with the title of Genghis Khan. 

Over a 19-year period as the Khan, he led numerous attacks against Chinese kingdoms. The Mongols completely eradicated the Western Xia culture and started the Yuan Dynasty, which ruled China for several generations. By 1227, Genghis Khan’s empire controlled 1/3rd of Asia. During his lifetime, Khan is said to have killed 20 to 40 million people. He had a large harem of women. As a result, almost 0.5 percent of the world’s population can trace their ancestry to Genghis Khan.

Genghis Khan wax figure.
Genghis Khan controlled a third of Asia at his peak. (Image: via Pixabay)

The Mongols mostly saw China as a part of their empire and never gave much thought to native Chinese people or traditions. They divided China into four hierarchical groups. The Mongols were the top group, followed by non-Han people. Northern Chinese people made up the third group, while the Southern Chinese people were relegated to the bottom rung of society. Chinese scholars who were experts in Confucianism were seen with suspicion and banned from occupying top government positions.

Follow us on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest

Recommended Stories

Wooden emas at a Japanese shrine.

Japanese Shrines Vandalized by Pro-China Forces

In many Shinto and Buddhist shrines, you’ll find racks of emas — small wooden boards ...

A cutting laser.

Gamma-Ray Laser Moves a Step Closer to Reality

A physicist at the University of California, Riverside, has performed calculations showing hollow spherical bubbles ...

A sunset with clouds.

The 8 Divinations and Wisdom of Life in Zhouyi

Zhouyi, which is believed to be the oldest text and is named after the Zhou ...

Allosaurus jimmadseni.

New Species of Allosaurus Discovered in Utah

A remarkable new species of meat-eating dinosaur has been unveiled at the Natural History Museum ...

A herbal apothecary.

A Famous Medicinal Herb Merchant in Chang’an During the Tang Dynasty

In the mid-period of the Tang Dynasty, there was a herb merchant named Song Qing ...

Coronavirus Update: Evacuations and Closed Borders as Death Toll Exceeds 100

What is happening inside China? At least 132 people have died to date in Mainland ...

An isolated patient.

Coronavirus Update: China Restricts Travel for Millions as the Death Toll Climbs

Authorities in China have imposed indefinite travel restrictions on tens of millions of people across ...

A bat.

New Coronavirus Emerges From Bats in China, Killing 25,000 Piglets

A newly identified coronavirus that killed nearly 25,000 piglets in 2016-17 in China emerged from ...

A bed and pillows.

4 Kinds of Congee That Bring Calm

Some foods can help relieve insomnia because of their nutritional value. Chinese medicine considers congee ...

Send this to a friend