Statue marks a major rethink in China's attitude to Confucius
Friday 14 January 2011
Confucius is back – and raised on a pedestal. The Chinese Communist leadership, which once criticised the ancient philosopher as part of official policy, has sanctioned a huge sculpture of the sage on Tiananmen Square.
In a sign of the increasing importance of the 2,500-year-old teachings in thrusting, modern China, the scholar follows Chairman Mao Zedong and several other leading figures of the Communist movement to be displayed prominently on the square considered hallowed political ground by the Party.
The sculpture marks a remarkable revival for the scholar, statesman and educator, whose philosophy dominated Chinese society for centuries before spreading to Europe in the late 16th century. Chairman Mao once condemned Confucius as a feudal thinker and Red Guards smashed evidence that he ever lived during the ideological frenzy of the Cultural Revolution.
But now, the 31-foot statue shares the square with the mausoleum of Chairman Mao and where his giant picture hangs. "Now the party leaders have resurrected Confucius and have practically put Mao and Confucius side by side. Mao must be turning in his grave," Minxin Pei, a China expert at Claremont McKenna College, told the Associated Press.
The rehabilitation of Confucius, who lived from 551-479 BC, comes amid new leadership concerns about China's increasingly materialist society. Burgeoning wealth and the rise of consumerism has seen many traditional Confucian values of honour and decency slip away in favour of self-serving, money-grabbing behaviour, the leadership believes.
President Hu Jintao relies heavily on the teachings of Confucius when he urges the masses to learn a "socialist sense of honour and shame". Confucian thinking stresses harmony and obedience, but all this without any reference to God, which sits easily with Marxist-Leninism.
But it is not just the leadership that is turning to Confucius for inspiration. He is enjoying a revival, in books and films, on television and in the classrooms. A movie about the figure last year featured Chow Yun-fat, a veteran actor known for starring in stylish gangster thrillers.
"The rise of a big country requires a cultural foundation and Chinese culture upholds the spirit of harmony," said the sculptor Wu Weishan.
"Confucianism has been governing the lives and ethics of Chinese for thousands of years," said 25-year-old engineer Cui Xiaozhan , who was on a business trip from Qingdao.
"We should study it. But everyone is too busy and tired."
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 3 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 4 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
- 5 The Greece debt crisis explained in less than 100 words
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Tube strike July 2015: Is it still on? Everything you need to know about the industrial action
Eiji Tsuburaya: Godzilla co-creator honoured in today's interactive Google Doodle
Florida teacher sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexually abusing three pupils
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...