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China sees renewed enthusiasm for Confucius

Updated: 2013-12-07 20:11
( Xinhua)

BEIJING - The Chinese President's recent remarks on reviving the country's traditional culture have refocused attention on Confucius and sparked vibrant discussions about how the ancient sage can inspire modern China.

During his visit to Confucius' hometown of Qufu in east China's Shandong Province in late November, Xi Jinping said scholars should follow the rules of "making the past serve the present" and "keeping the essential while discarding the dross" when researching ethics passed on from the nation's forefathers.

Xi called for the promotion of morality across society and "a pursuit of a beautiful and lofty moral realm from generation to generation." He also stressed the importance of cultural prosperity while talking with experts at the Confucius Research Institute during his stay in Qufu.

His comments have helped draw a wider readership for the country's ancient philosophical classics, which have seen brisk sales in recent days, leading publishing houses to hastily print additional copies.

A bookseller with TMall, a large Chinese e-commerce platform, told Xinhua that some previously less-known works that interpret Confucian teachings have sold out, "but orders have continued to flood in."

Xi's positive remarks indicate there has been a "consensus" on the value of traditional Chinese culture, characterized by Confucianism, with a history of about 2,500 years, according to Yang Chaoming, head of the Confucius Research Institute.

Yang Yitang, another Confucian researcher in Shandong, believed that the leader's emphasis on traditional culture showcases the confidence and pride of the Chinese nation. "In the country's rich ancient culture, the 90-year-old Communist Party of China (CPC) has found its DNA and the nourishment to grow," he said.

Preaching moral righteousness, harmony and peace, in addition to hierarchy and order, Confucian doctrines were generally worshipped by ancient monarchs, but denounced a century ago by some intellectuals who blamed Confucian thought for China's decline at the time. The anti-Confucius sentiment later climaxed during the Cultural Revolution.

However, the official endorsement of the ancient thinker has become increasingly clear. In September, the State Council released a draft plan to move the present Teachers' Day, Sept 10, to what is believed to be the birthday of Confucius (551-479 BC) on September 28.

In another sign, a communique issued following a key CPC meeting that concluded last month highlighted the need to build a socialist culture, enhance the country's cultural soft power and improve education in traditional culture.

The doctrines of the much-revered thinker have been spread worldwide with the establishment of more than 420 Confucius Institutes in over 100 countries to teach Chinese language and culture.

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