CHINA / National

'Genghis Khan started globalization'
By Le Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-06-05 05:39

We think of globalization as selling Coca-Cola in Calcutta or Starbucks in Shanghai. But researchers claim the process dates back 800 years, to the time when Genghis Khan was building his empire.

It was under Genghis Khan's empire that the Eurasian landmass began to demonstrate the characteristics of global exchanges, according to Hao Shiyuan, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

Thanks to the expansion of the empire, "economic and cultural exchanges became possible to the maximum extent and previously isolated civilizations became linked," said Hao, director of the academy's Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, at an international symposium on the founding of the Mongol Empire held by the CASS in Beijing yesterday.

"This is what globalization features: shrinking space, shrinking time, and disappearing borders," said Hao.

Globalization is leading to the integration of the world's markets, culture, technology, and governance, in a similar way to the spread of communications, trade, transport and technology in Genghis Khan's era, said Hao.

Establishing the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous land empire in history, covering modern Mongolia, China, Korea, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria in the 13th century, Genghis Khan has been described as 'World Conqueror,' 'Emperor of All Men' and 'Scourge of God.'

But whatever title he is given, nothing can eliminate his contribution to the integration of ethnicities, nationalities and civilizations in ancient times.

An in-depth understanding of the historical context and social system of the time is needed to evaluate Genghis Khan and his contribution to history, said B. Enkhtuvshin, vice-president of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, at the symposium.

"Genghis Khan promoted globalization as has no ruler before him," said the Mongolian academician, who is also director of the International Institute for the Study of Nomadic Civilizations.

More than 50 experts and researchers from China, Mongolia, Russia, Japan and the United States attended the symposium, commemorating the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Mongol Empire.

(China Daily 06/05/2006 page2)