Statue marks a major rethink in China's attitude to Confucius

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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Laser and Router Operative

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Laser and Router Operative is...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician - 1st Line

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They have been providing local ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive / Trainee Managers

£6000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for smart, orga...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones