Skip to comments.China claims Genghis Khan as its own
Posted on 12/29/2006 4:04:22 PM PST by maui_hawaii
From outcast nomad to tribal warlord and finally founder of the world's greatest land empire, Genghis Khan went through a lot of changes in a tumultuous life spanning the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th.
But perhaps the strangest transformation ever undergone by the Mongolian military genius has come in modern times: his reinvention as a Chinese hero.
Genghis Khan was certainly Chinese, says Guo Wurong, general manager of the Genghis Khan Mausoleum Tourist District in China's Inner Mongolia region.
We currently define him as a hero of the Mongolian nationality, a great man of the Chinese people and a giant in world history, says Mr Guo, who has led a multimillion-dollar redevelopment of the site of the great Khan's mausoleum in Inner Mongolia's Ordos prefecture.
The Chinese part of that description would no doubt surprise Genghis himself, who seems to have seen the Han Chinese people who lived south of his Mongolian heartlands as merely another ethnic group to be subjugated.
Mr Guo's definition closely matches that pushed by official histories and government scholars, however. The late chairman Mao Zedong may once have dismissed Genghis as someone who only knew how to draw his bow at the eagles, but Beijing's cultural commissars have good reason to embrace the great khan as a model Chinese.
Celebrating Genghis aligns Beijing policy with the reverence ethnic Mongolians feel for the founder of their nation.
Turning Genghis Chinese, meanwhile, pushes the party line that Inner Mongolia is an integral part of China, despite the quiet yearning for independence of many of the region's increasingly outnumbered original inhabitants.
State-approved histories paint an idealised picture of an eternal Chinese state grouping the majority Han with ethnic brothers such as the Mongolians.
Coming from a nomad nationality, Genghis Khan rose to become a representative of many excellent national cultures, embodying especially the essence of China's minority nationality culture, wrote Chen Yu-ning, professor at Ningxia University, in a history published this year.
Such official endorsement of Genghis and traditional culture has brought real benefits for Mongolians in China, who suffered severe oppression for decades under Mao's rule.
Traditional Naadam festivals of riding, shooting and wrestling, once banned, are now subsidised by the state. At one Naadam gathering on the Gegentala grasslands this summer, local government departments lent tents to contestants to stay in.
Yet the cost of being subsumed into a greater Chinese identity is also apparent. Much of the Gegentala festival was arranged for the benefit of dignitaries and tourists staying at a nearby tent hotel complete with a bathhouse stocked with Chinese prostitutes.
A flag-bearing police honour guard and playing of the national anthem opened proceedings, to the disgust of one ethnic Mongolian official.
Naadam has been diluted, Communised and Sinified, said the official, who declined to be identified. To a person who has studied history and national culture, Naadam should not be this way.
A Chinese tide is also washing over the Ordos mausoleum which is actually the site of a sacred enclosure where relics of the great khan were preserved. Now a complex of statues, plazas and museum halls has been built around the site in a style reminiscent of China's imperial tombs.
Mr Guo says effort is being made to reflect the site's traditions.
Indeed, he plans to install hidden speakers in the grassland to give visitors a sense of place. That way you'll be able to hear the sound of horses galloping on the steppe...or in another place you might hear the sound of Mongolian singing, he says.
Such ersatz echoes of steppeland tradition irk Baildugqi, an expert on Mongolian history at the Inner Mongolia University. You cannot use the methods of the Han interior to commemorate Genghis Khan and his culture, Prof Baildugqi says.
Sinifying Genghis's legacy does not just risk upsetting mild-mannered academics. Official emphasis on Mongolians' minority status also fuels fears in Mongolia itself about Beijing's long-term intentions.
Calling Genghis a Chinese hero is even drawing quiet protest within China, where many people retain the more traditional view that he was a barbarian invader and some are simply annoyed at what appears a blatant abuse of historical fact.
The official justification rests essentially on the view that Genghis is Chinese because his successors ruled China as emperors and many Mongolians live within Chinese state borders today.
It is an argument waved aside by critics such as one contributor to the popular Hefei discussion website who goes by the name Dagui.
Now there are quite a few Mongolians in China, and they have Chinese citizenship but that does not make Mongolians [of Genghis's era] Chinese, Dagui wrote. If your grandson moves to the US, gets a green card and becomes a US citizen, that will not mean that you and your dad were Americans!
MONGOLIANSSS tear down the wall of South Park ping LOL!
Let us consider this within the context of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The area currently encompassed by the SCO is oddly similar to the area encompassed by the Mongol Empire / Yuan Dynasty at its peak. The SCO's mandarins are accomplished men and have studied their history. Whereas, the Khannate was a tributary system, wherein the Russians and other Eastern Slavic and Central Asian peoples were clearly second class subjects, this newer version boasts equality of all involved parties.
This newer version also plays from the strengths of its members - Russia brings commodity wealth, an advanced world smashing military, and a certain style of play which is quite useful in dealing with Europe and North America - China brings industrial and technological might, a population of over 1 billion, money savvy, and a way of fighting that will prove an enigma to the West.
This new Empire is in its earliest infancy - most in the West cannot comprehend its ways let alone its mere existence. God help us.
This sounds like a real Khan job to me.
Some people think that old Sam Walton was Genghis Khan re-encarnated.
What are Mongolians what are the ancenster they not Chinese not at all ES look at your history
Disclosure - I am a descendent of both some of the Western Slavs who fought the Mongols, as well as a descendent of some of the Eastern Slavs and hence, the Mongols.
I'm probably part Mongolian.
They can't have him. According to Jawn Carey he is like us!
Hey I might be part Mongolian I am 1/4 Russian LOL!
They would decree whatever is 'theirs' and hence colonization would take place...
Anyone who argued was screwed.
Check out my new tag line...
Not surprising that they would try & claim him. I think they must seem him as a role model. Perhaps they are just attempting to make a political statement.
That is indeed a cool tag line!
There is a somewhat fictional book about Marco Polo and his journeys in china/tibet/indochina/india. He tells of the "fondler" : if you got a 100 day sentence from the Khan it meant the fondler had to keep you alive for 100 days as he took you apart one nerve at a time : maximum torture. Then Marco found out how to make explosives transportable(formerly they had to be mixed on-site and used immediately). Thus they used bombs to create a landslide on 2 sides of a valley to bury the sung army. They first suited up tibetans(expendable nothings to the mongols)in mongol uniforms, marched them into the valley floor; sungs pounced on them : blow the cliffs and bury the whole bunch. Typical oriental method of war..... Then the Khan sent Marco to india to find the Tooth of Buddha and see if it was worth conquering. He looked around there : too many languages, peoples = not worth it. Only later they conquered part of india. Ironically, it was the mongols that stopped the islamic wave from moving into asia. They weren't PC, they knew how to chop off islamic heads by the pile-ful. In fact, their horse-polo game originally used islamic heads as the "ball". As to Ghengis Khan being chinese, that's a joke. A parallel would be rome conquering greece : military rulers adopting the local cultural elements that were useful to them, but still ROMAN.
China: We have an illustrious history of revision!
I like your tagline ROFL
The Chinese continue to invent reasons why they are the rightful owners of all of Asia... Adopting Genghis Khan is one way of saying that they have a claim to everything he ever conquered.
It is the "Com" part of the ChiComs. Communists. The most vile of political animals.