Hundreds of members of the Mongolian community in Taiwan, joined by visiting Mongolian prosecutors, gathered in Taipei yesterday to commemorate Genghis Khan.
Standing in the middle and facing a portrait of Genghis Khan perched atop nine layers of offerings of fruit and flowers, Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission Minister Kao Su-po (高思博) presented incense, wine and fine silk in a gesture of respect to Genghis Khan.
Chief secretary of the commission Chien Shih-yin (錢世英) said later that nine was the most auspicious number in the Mongolian culture. Nine items were placed on each of the nine rows.
Standing behind the minister were prominent members of the Mongolian community in Taiwan, most of whom came to Taiwan with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in 1949, prosecutors visiting from Mongolia as part of a training program and representatives from other government agencies.
Descendants of the first generation of Mongolians who came to Taiwan and Mongolian university students studying in Taiwan also attended the ceremony.
After the main ceremony, the ritual was performed a second time by Mongolian members of the public.
“It is a tradition that was established by Chiang Kai-shek [蔣介石] in 1941 for the commission to hold a ritual showing the government’s respect for what Genghis Khan accomplished,” Chien said, adding that it was a gesture of respect by the KMT government, which was then located in China, toward Mongolians.
Many Chinese, including Chiang and his followers, have viewed Genghis Khan as a great ruler in Chinese history instead of an invader whose descendants later occupied and ruled China.
“Aside from the political aspect, many people from Mongolia were surprised and happy to see a foreign government showing respect to a man they consider a national hero,” Chien said.
However, when the Taipei Times asked a Mongolian student studying at National Chengchi University how he felt about a government that long considered Mongolia part of its territory holding a ceremony in honor of Genghis Khan, he declined to answer.
The student declined to spell his name in the Latin alphabet.