The Chinese appropriation and “Sinicization” of Mongolian cultural heritage is a well-known phenomenon. Now, shows are used to indoctrinate Mongolians against “illegal” religion.
by Fang Yongrui
The CCP has conducted for many years a policy of appropriation of cultural forms of ethnic groups they have colonized and Sinicized. These forms are deprived of their millennia-old spiritual meaning and reduced to tourism-oriented folklore. Worse still, their content is transformed and mobilized for CCP propaganda purposes. Some of these appropriated and corrupted forms of ethnic culture are then registered as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is presented as an acknowledgement by the international community that these traditions are indeed “Chinese.”
Southern Mongolia (called “Inner Mongolia” by the CCP) has been the victim of the same policy. The CCP-controlled Ulan Muqi troupes perform in China and around the world and present a hybrid combination of traditional Mongolian art forms, Han Chinese elements, and propaganda content.
Now, there is something new. Ulan Muqi is being mobilized for the CCP’s anti-religious campaigns. Southern Mongolia has an increasingly diverse religious landscape. The majority of the population is Buddhist, but Christian house churches have made inroads as well as new religious movements such as the Association of Disciples and The Church of Almighty God.
Campaigns against “xie jiao [the name used by the CCP for groups banned as “heterodox”] and illegal religions” have intensified, and now Ulan Muqi troupes have been asked to help. In 2022, five dedicated Ulan Muqi performance teams were formed. They worked with the local chapters of the China Anti-Xie-Jiao Association to create the “Anti-Xie-Jiao Ulan Muqi project,” which organized more than 140 performances, including in remote rural areas.
The content evidenced the new concern of the CCP for the Association of Disciples, which is now considered a “national security threat” at the same level of Falun Gong and The Church of Almighty God, and featured prominently in the shows. Songs slandering The Church of Almighty God and celebrating the triumph of science against “superstition” (read “religion”) were also sung. The performances were accompanied by campaigns where activists dressed in traditional Mongolian costumes distributed propaganda literature against “xie jiao and illegal religion.”
It was reported to Bitter Winter, however, that the “Anti-Xie-Jiao Ulan Muqi Performances” did not limit themselves to criticize “illegal” religion. While they were at it, the performers also presented songs and dances reminding the audience that Southern Mongolians are Chinese and celebrating the CCP, with titles such as “Sing a Folk Song for the Party,” and “I Love You, China.”
Herdsmen and other Southern Mongolians, whose frequent protests trying to protect their language and culture have become a cause of concern for the CCP, were extremely sad when they saw Mongolian traditional culture perverted to glorify the colonial Chinese power, the Communist Party, and its anti-religious ideology.