Is Confucius making a comeback in China?

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Our Associate Professor of International Relations, Dr Rosita Dellios poses that the Confucian philosophy is finding its way once again in Chinese culture after its condemnation during Mao’s Cultural Revolution and is helping the country to realise its human and economic potential.

Her writing was featured on the website GBtimes.

Professor Rosita Dellios, Bond University
Professor Rosita Dellios, Bond University

Is Confucius making a comeback in China?

As China continues to find its footing on the world stage and keep its economy growing, officials are turning towards an old philosophy for ideas. The revival of Confucianism in China is gathering pace and the cultural revival could have a huge significance for the country in the coming years.

The ruling Communist Party has taken China’s cultural revival to its heart after decades of neglect. The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius is at the centre of this revival, with projects happening across the country in an effort to revive his philosophy and teachings.

A big part of of the revival is happening in the city of Qufu, the hometown of Confucius and the location of his wonderful temple. Officials in the city recently announced that teachers would have free access to the temple in an effort to spread Confucius’ teachings.

Allowing teachers free access to the temple is a clever policy, as it was Confucius, who started the first private schools in the country around 2,000 years ago. The Chinese government-sponsored Confucius Foundation of China is also setting up around 10,000 Confucius schools across the country as part of the revival strategy.

Why is Confucius coming back?

During the decade-long Cultural Revolution in 1966-1976, Confucius was considered a regressive pedant and citizens were discouraged from publicly discussing his philosophies. But the current government has played a big role in changing the attitude and putting the revered symbol of China’s traditional culture back on the map.

Dr Rosita Dellios, Associate Professor of International Relations at Bond University, told gbtimes that the revival comes at a time when the country is looking for answers. “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.

According to Dr Dellios, the Chinese society is moving from the socialist “serve the people” motto towards a more individualistic world, where the focus is on “generating wealth and acquiring status”.

While Confucius and especially the family-centred thinking of the philosophy were never truly forgotten in China, much of the formal and institutional aspects of Confucius were brushed aside….


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