Sunday, April 28, 2013

Who "owns" Chinggis Khaan?

Chinggis Khaan's statue, Mongolia
Poor Chinggis Khaan. He is "confused" and doesn't know who he is anymore. Japanese say, he is ours. Chinese say, he was one of the Chinese ethnic minority leaders, claiming that Mongols were one  of their many ethnic minorities. Today with the Mongols living in so called Inner Mongolia, China has a minority group of Mongols, numbered few millions, but not in times when Mongol tribes existed in modern-day Mongolia's territory and around it,  or after they were united as a nation 800 plus and more years ago.  Chinggis Khaan was not a "minority leader" when he united Mongol tribes and founded Mongol Empire. In fact he and his grandson Khubilai should be hated by the Chinese people, like by the Russians or Arabs, for his invasion of Chinese territory and causing so much trouble to  the natives.

But no, in contrary, they would praise him as "Chinese" hero. You know why? Here is the trick. By claiming  Chinggis Khaan and other Mongol Khaans they would justify their claim about Mongolia's territory, saying, you know, those kings are ours and so is the land. Since the establishment of modern Chinese statehood (after 1911) they wouldn't stop  claiming  Mongolia as  part of China, although  not officially. In museums the Mongol kings (khaans) were displayed as  "Chinese Mongol khans" and in schools were taught that the whole Mongolia once belonged to China.

Overseas  Chinese restaurants are named "Genghis Khan" (like the one in Cairo, Egypt or in Melbourne, Australia, etc.) and their menus include a dish called "Mongolian beef" when such a dish never existed in Mongolia.  A Chinese meal with such a name should make the customer believe that Mongolians and Chinese are somewhat "connected". Why wouldn't they name  their restaurants after "Mao Zedung" or "Zhu Xi"  (1130-1200), a famous Chinese philosopher?  Do they have any pride to use the names of  their own famous Chinese personalities? No, Chinggis Khaan  should attract more customers than Zhu Xi and besides Chinggis Khaan is a "Chinese Mongol king".

A  piece of land called  "Inner Mongolia" (aka  Southern Mongolia ), former part of Mongolia proper, is now within Chinese border and Mongolian nomads living in that territory have become eventually a  minority like Tibetans. The whole deal how this piece of land became "Chinese territory" was played after the WW2 between the two neighbors, Russia and China, despite the efforts   for unification of two Mongolian territories by Mongolia proper and Inner Mongolian leaders.

If you read  decent and not biased or falsified  sources about Mongolia-China relationship in the past, you will find out that China was indeed "part" of Mongolia (then Mongol Empire) and not vice versa. But we don't "claim" it because we know that particular territory south of the Great Wall of China belongs to Chinese people.
Unfortunately, Chinese policy crosses the line.  Chinese claim derives from the time of Manchu Empire (1644-1912)  which included the territories of China, Mongolia , Tibet, East Turkestan and of course Manchuria (the homeland of Manchu people).
But Manchu people are not Chinese and  have a nomadic life style like Mongols. Actually Manchus are more related to Mongols. When they became once so powerful, they conquered China, Mongolia, Tibet and East Turkestan (now Xinjiang). They ruled until 1911 when Chinese people revolted and tore down the Manchu Empire. Chinese declared their independence and Mongolia did it, as well as Tibet. Manchu's rule was the second foreign occupation after the one of the Mongols (Yuan Empire, 1279-1368) under which Chinese population much suffered.

Territories comprised the current China
Now, claiming somebody's (in this case Mongolia's) territory as its own when both (Mongolia and China) suffered under somebody else's (Manchu's) rule,  is ridiculous and funny.  Chinese original territory is not much bigger than that of Mongolia's  today. With  "original" territory I mean  excluding  Tibet, Manchuria (to the east of Southern Mongolia, marked as blue on the above image) ) , East  Turkestan and Inner Mongolia (aka Southern Mongolia)  from the current China's map. (see the pic. above)

In the earlier times, Chinese couldn't think a  better way to protect themselves from the danger to be raided by the nomadic people from the north, than to build a huge wall which should become a physical barrier, but it didn't help much , except becoming a tourist attraction  these days. The  Great Wall of China marks also the border of the Chinese original territory. Anything north of that wall belonged to the nomadic people who formed a united Mongol statehood in 1206  declaring Temuujin, a chief of Borjigon tribe, as the Great Khaan, and giving him a title  "Chinggis" Khaan.

E.Temuujin (a childhood statue dedicated to Chinggis Khaan)
By the way, some Mongolian scholars think that the word  "Chinggis" derives from "Tenggis", a word  meaning  "sea". Over the time, "Tenggis" became "Chinggis". Mongolians have the tradition to compare to and name things big or great as  "ocean" or "sea". Like the title "Dalai" Khaan with "Dalai" means "Ocean" in Mongolian. For example, a well-known  person who  owns this kind of title is "Dalai lama" , Tibetan spiritual leader whose actual name is different. (lama means priest or monkh)

Chinggis Khaan was chosen as the King (Khaan)  and the united  Mongol state was built. One can find many sources of information today  about the wars led against the southern neighbor (China) and northern neighbor (today's Russia), and far into the west under Chinggis Khaan's leadership and later by his sons and grandsons. Some are really biased and full of hatred against the Mongols, but hey, times  were different.
It makes no sense  to apply Geneva Convention terms to those times.

Chinese "claim" of Chinggis Khaan (with all other following kings) and Mongolia proper wouldn't cease until today. They would distribute all kind of  materials, online and offline,  with  distorted history related to Mongols  all over the world and  keep brainwashing their citizens from the childhood on. Even top Chinese military officials expressing their disappointment  openly by saying that "losing" Mongolia proper was a big mistake on China's  part.

Meanwhile there are coming others who would like to claim Chinggis Khaan as well. Kazakhs are saying that Chinggis was their hero because Kazakhs were one of the turkic people lived among Mongol tribes. They say "Temuujin" is a turkic name and he was born as Kazakh. One of every  100 Kazakhs is allegedly a descendent (blood relatives) of Chinggis khaan, they say.
Ukrainians also want to "own" Chinggis Khaan and, a man named Alexander Sinukhov wrote even a book called "Chinggis Khan- son of  Kievan Isaac". He claims that Chinggis Khaan was a smart Jew who went to the not so smart nomadic people and helped them to unite and became their king. According to him, Chinggis was  a close relative of the Emporer Kievan Isaac and  a Jew.

God knows, who else would claim him as own. As funny as it sounds, this kind of ridiculous claims will do lead to lot of misunderstandings and confusions which bring nothing but damages and bad consequences in people's relationship and friendship between the affected nations. Dislike and hatred are caused by this kind of disrespect and insults. Without stopping  such nonsense and  accepting the truth, one shouldn't talk about respect, let alone  friendship.

p.s. Please,stop also pronouncing Chinggis Khaan's name incorrectly. If it's spelled like Genghis, it should be pronounced as "Jenghis". Not with "G" as in "Gift" but with "G" as in "General". I hope nobody wouldn't like his/her name to be mispronounced.
p.p.s. For some info about Chinggis Khaan see:        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genghis_Khan

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