China demanded a French museum to remove the words 'Genghis Khan' from a Genghis Khan exhibition, as it continues cracking down on Mongolian culture

Mia Jankowicz
genghis khan france nantes mongolia ulaanbatar
A statue of Genghis Khan east of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, pictured in June 2019. Bazarsukh Rentsendorj/Reuters
  • A French museum was forced to postpone its exhibition about the Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan after Chinese authorities demanded control over many elements, multiple reports say.

  • The Chinese Bureau of Cultural Heritage asked the museum to remove the words "Genghis Khan," "empire" and "Mongol" from the show, the museum's director said in a statement seen by the Associated Press.

  • The bureau had asked the museum make the changes "in favor a new national narrative," the director said, according to the AP.

  • The museum connected the censorship attempt to China's recent crackdown on Mongolian culture.

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Chinese authorities have demanded a French exhibition remove the words "Genghis Khan" from its exhibition on the Mongolian warlord, the museum director said in a statement seen by the Associated Press.

The exhibition at the Château des ducs de Bretagne museum in Nantes, western France, devised in partnership with the Inner Mongolia Museum in Hohhot, China, was about the infamous Mongolian leader who conquered a huge empire in the 12th century.

The museum's director Bertrand Guillet said in a Monday statement that the exhibition had been postponed for three years, citing "acts of censorship of the central Chinese authorities," according to Le Monde.

Guillet said the Chinese Bureau of Cultural Heritage had demanded numerous changes, including removing the words "Genghis Khan," "empire," and "Mongol," according to the AP.

The bureau also requested that it take control over exhibition brochures, maps, and legends, the AP reported.

Guillet said the bureau tried to make changes "including notably elements of biased rewriting of Mongol culture in favor of a new national narrative," according to the AP.

Guillet said that he took the decision to postpone "in the name of the human, scientific and ethical values that we defend," the AP reported.

According to Le Monde, he also connected the bureau's requests to the increased persecution of ethnic Mongolians in China in recent months.

China has accelerated its crackdown on ethnic and religious culture in the country, including Uighur, Hui, and Utsul Muslims, as well as Tibetans, in recent years.

In August, the Chinese government also imposed a policy of reduced lessons in the Mongolian language in favor of more Mandarin Chinese lessons.

That move sparked widespread protests, prompting more than 300,000 students to go on strike, according to The Diplomat. The government retaliated by issuing thousands of arrest warrants for suspected ringleaders, the outlet reported.

The Genghis Khan exhibition had been due to open in Nantes in October and would have run through to April 2021, according to the museum's announcement of future programming.

Business Insider has contacted the Chinese embassies in London and Paris for comment.

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