A Chinese man has been sentenced to one year in prison for destroying a portrait of Genghis Khan by a court in the country’s Inner Mongolia region, sparking online debate on the use of laws to punish acts of “ethnic hatred”.

In a video that he shared online this May, the man surnamed Luo stood inside a yurt and stomped on a picture of legendary conqueror Genghis Khan, a public security bureau in the northern region announced Wednesday.

A painting of Genghis Khan. Photo: Wikicommons.

Luo was convicted this week of “inciting ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination” and apologised before the local court for “harming public sentiment”.

Mongol Empire founder Genghis Khan remains a revered figure among many ethnic Mongols.

Ordos city authorities said several members of the public had reported the viral video to the police.

While Luo was condemned on social media for the video, some commenters on the Twitter-like Weibo platform also questioned the severity of his prison sentence.

“Chinese law is too elastic, it’s not standardised,” one user said.

Another accused the authorities of ruling by “Mongol Empire Law”.

Some Weibo posts commenting on the sentence were subsequently removed, along with both the statement from the Ordos public security bureau and a post from the city’s party committee about the conviction.

Chinese authorities routinely censor politically sensitive material online.

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