Xi marks Confucius anniversary

By Zhang Yiqian Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-25 0:28:01

Acceptance of traditions improves confidence: analyst

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday spoke at an international seminar to mark the 2,565th anniversary of the birth of Confucius in Beijing, saying that culture is the soul of a nation and calling for mutual understanding between civilizations.

"If a country or a nation does not cherish its own thinking and culture, if they lose their soul, no matter which country or which nation, it will not be able to stand," the Xinhua News Agency quoted Xi as saying. 

The latest comments follow on from previous remarks, where Xi stressed the importance of Confucianism and traditional Chinese culture.

In November last year, Xi visited the Confucius Temple in Qufu, Shandong Province and said he highly approved of two books, The Interpretation of The Analects and The Collected Sayings and Dialogues of Confucius. On May 4 this year, Xi visited Peking University and talked with Tang Yijie, the late philosophy scholar who has garnered high praise for his efforts to preserve Chinese culture. Tang, 87, passed away on September 9.

Xi also gave a speech at Beijing Normal University on September 9, when he expressed concerns about decisions to remove classic Chinese poems and essays from textbooks. "De-sinicization is not something to celebrate. Classics should be embedded into students' minds, and become the 'genes' of Chinese culture," Xi was quoted as saying.

Yang Chaoming, head of the Confucius Research Institute, told the Global Times that in the past, Chinese society has misunderstood traditional Confucianism, but now the situation is changing.

"In the past, because we lagged behind other civilizations, we vented our anger on traditional culture. But now we have a better understanding of traditional culture and it makes us more confident," he said.

The decline of Confucianism began after the May Fourth Movement in 1919, which advocated "new culture" against Confucianism, blaming it as a remnant of traditional culture that stemmed the progress of Chinese society.

The Cultural Revolution (1966-76) later marked a peak of anti-traditional sentiment when Confucianism was denounced as counter-revolutionary thinking. Ren Zhong, a Confucian scholar, wrote in a commentary for sina.com.cn that Xi has a reason to lean toward Confucianism, as it could be considered as a "third path" between rightists and leftists, and it is time for disparate groups to search for a consensus.

"Confucians can be considered as mild reformists that do not want China to fall into a subversive revolution," he wrote. "Therefore, the indication that Xi and the Communist Party of China wants to return to traditional Chinese  culture is not simply out of his personal liking, but for the development of the country."

Wang Yige contributed to the story

Posted in: China Watch

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