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Mongol Region Wags the Chinese Dog

Financial Times
January 4, 2007
By Prof Jascha Kessler

Sir, Mure Dickie's discussion of the "Sinification" of Genghis Khan, in his report on the redevelopment as a tourist site of the emperor's "mausoleum" in Inner Mongolia's Ordos prefecture ("China claims Genghis Khan as one of its own", December 29) could be misleading if readers assume the Mongol ruler was buried there. In fact, the true location of his final resting place remains unknown.

Legend has it that while riding with his command one glorious day over the Ordos steppeland, the khan dropped his quirt, and when someone made to retrieve it, ordered it to be left where it fell, declaring he wished to be buried here where his heart was most at home.

Though he died on his final campaign against the Xixia, his body was not carried off until a month later, after they had been utterly destroyed.

It was summer and the Mongol forces were far from home. Because some source records indicate that Genghis Khan's people descended from one of the tribes resident originally in north-eastern China, it is comprehensible that scholars today will claim Chinese origin for him.

What is topsyturvy about Mr Dickie's commentary is its argument that Beijing is pouring subsidies into Inner Mongolia to "communise" it, when what seems rather the case, so far as those have had on-the-spot dealings for projects have learned, is that the Inner Mongolian autonomous region is wagging the dog, extracting funds from the central government to promote its own interest, much as is the case with modern countries around the globe.

Jascha Kessler,

Professor of English and Modern Literature, 


Los Angeles, CA 90095, US




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Close to Eden (Urga): France, Soviet Union, directed by Nikita Mikhilkov

Beyond Great WallsBeyond Great Walls: Environment, Identity, and Development on the Chinese Grasslands of Inner Mongolia

The Mongols at China's EdgeThe Mongols at China's Edge: History and the Politics of National Unity

China's Pastoral RegionChina's Pastoral Region: Sheep and Wool, Minority Nationalities, Rangeland Degradation and Sustainable Development

Changing Inner MongoliaChanging Inner Mongolia: Pastoral Mongolian Society and the Chinese State (Oxford Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology)

Grasslands and Grassland Science in Northern ChinaGrasslands and Grassland Science in Northern China: A Report of the Committee on Scholarly Communication With the People's Republic of China

The Ordos Plateau of ChinaThe Ordos Plateau of China: An Endangered Environment (Unu Studies on Critical Environmental Regions)
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