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French museum postpones Genghis Khan exhibit due to Chinese interference

Nantes History Museum refuses to showcase revised version of Mongolian history offered by China

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Nantes History Museum accuses Beijing of trying to censor Mongolian history and culture in new exhibition. (Facebook, Nantes History Museum photo)

Nantes History Museum accuses Beijing of trying to censor Mongolian history and culture in new exhibition. (Facebook, Nantes History Museum photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Nantes History Museum in France announced on Monday (Oct. 12) that it has decided to cancel its longstanding partnership with a Chinese museum after the latter attempted to rewrite Mongolian history and culture in an upcoming collaborative Genghis Khan exhibition.

In an official statement posted on its website, the Nantes History Museum said the exhibit, which was already pushed back to the first half of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, will once again be postponed because of overwhelming interference from the Inner Mongolia Museum.

The French museum said it has been forced to seek new collections from European and American partners due to China's attempt to erase Mongolian history "for the benefit of a new national story," further delaying the opening of the exhibit. It noted that the Chinese authorities had requested to remove certain names and terms from the exhibition, such as "Genghis Khan," "empire," and "Mongol," as well as control all productions, including texts, maps, catalogs, and communications.

In a media interview, Nantes History Museum Director Bertrand Guillet said a new synopsis written by the Beijing heritage office was also offered, which he perceived as "censorship of the initial project." He added that the title of the exhibit was even changed to "Chinese Steppe Culture of the World" in the revised introductory summary, reported Newtalk.

Guillet said the museum ultimately decided to cancel the partnership with China and reconstruct the project after consulting historians and specialists. He stated that the decision was made "in the name of human, scientific, and ethical values," reported Ouest-France.

This is not the first time China has attempted to revise Mongolian history and culture. In late August, protest erupted across Inner Mongolia after Chinese authorities implemented region-wide school curriculum reforms that required Mandarin be used as the official language of instruction.

French museum postpones Genghis Khan exhibit due to Chinese interference
Nantes History Museum in France. (Facebook, Nantes History Museum photo)