Confucianism Fuels Cultural Revival in China

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As China continues dealing with a growing presence on the world stage and a rapidly changing society, its leaders are looking to an uncommon source for answers: the teachings of Confucius.

For decades, the ruling Chinese Communist Party has neglected the philosopher’s beliefs along with its institutional aspects. During the cultural revolution of 1966 to 1976, officials encouraged citizens to avoid discussing his philosophies in public.

Now, the government is launching several projects throughout the country to promote his teachings and revive his cultural significance.

Officials in Confucius’ hometown of Qufu announced that teachers would get free access to his temple there in an effort to promote the philosopher’s wisdom throughout the country’s classrooms. The Chinese government-sponsored Confucius Foundation of China is also set to build thousands of Confucius schools throughout the country.

Although Confucius’ emphasis on the importance of family roles never left China, many of the institutional aspects of his teachings did.

But why is Confucius officially making his way back into Chinese culture after decades of being brushed aside by the government?

Dr. Rosita Dellios, associate professor of international relations at Bond University, tells gb times that the philosopher’s teachings seem more appealing to people considering the current state of Chinese society.

“It is a time when people are searching for values they can rely on, when China needs a firmer grip on its fast changing reality,” she said.

When President Xi Jinping took power in 2012, he acknowledged philosophy as “a powerful ideological tool, with its stress on order, hierarchy, and duty to rules and to family.”

Dellios also expressed that Confucianism is serving as a source of guidance for Chinese leaders coping with China’s increasingly important role in the global economy and international relations among world powers.

She told gb times that Confucius’ influence is evident in China’s “win-win” foreign policy and its “emphasis on the development of other countries.” She points to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the “Belt and Road” as examples of this “cooperative attitude.”

“There is a whole body of strategic culture which China has to draw upon, and which would help in its international relations,” Dellios said..

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