China 'Censorship' Forces Closure of Genghis Khan Museum Exhibit in France

A museum in France has decried what it calls "censorship" by the Chinese government, after pressure from Beijing prompted the institution to postpone a planned exhibit about the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan.

AFP reported Wednesday that the Château des ducs de Bretagne history museum in the city of Nantes, western France, would delay its Mongol Empire exhibition after Chinese authorities demanded the removal of certain words from the show.

These included "Genghis Khan," "Empire" and "Mongol." Chinese authorities also requested control over the exhibition's brochure, legends and maps, AFP reported.

The incident comes as Beijing intensifies pressure on ethnic Mongolians in its northern Inner Mongolia province, where local groups fear the Chinese Communist Party is trying to suppress local language and culture.

Bertrand Guillet, the director of the Nantes museum, said: "We made the decision to stop this production in the name of the human, scientific and ethical values that we defend."

The Chinese Bureau of Cultural Heritage was the body pushing the museum to make changes to the exhibition, the museum said. The body oversees Chinese museums and is responsible for the protection of Chinese cultural relics. The Nantes show was being planned in collaboration with the Inner Mongolia Museum in Hohhot, China.

The Nantes museum told AFP that the Chinese government bureau began pushing for changes to the exhibition, "including notably elements of biased rewriting of Mongol culture in favour of a new national narrative."

This, the institution said, amounted to "censorship" and represented a "hardening ... of the position of the Chinese government against the Mongolian minority," AFP reported.

Newsweek has contacted the Chinese embassy in France to request comment on the report.

Chinese authorities have previously sought to influence cultural events abroad to bring them more in line with the CCP's totalitarian and nationalistic ideology.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for example, told governors in February that the Chinese government pressured a Chicago high school to disinvite a Taiwanese representative who was due to sit on a panel on climate change last year. Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory and objects to any indication of the democratic island's independence.

The CCP now appears to be trying to suppress Mongolian traditions and encourage a more homogenous, Han Chinese culture in Inner Mongolia, as it has previously done in Tibet and Xinjiang.

Last month, thousands of ethnic Mongolians protested against new government plans to replace the Mongolian language with Mandarin Chinese for teaching three school subjects. Mongolian and Korean language teaching will continue for other subjects, but protesters fear that Mongolian will eventually be relegated to a secondary language.

China, France, museum, censorship, Mongolia, Genghis Khan
This file photo shows a Mongolian in front of the Genghis Khan statue in Tsonjin Boldog, Mongolia, on July 16 , 2016. JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images/Getty