China in the 21st Century

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Confucianism is the cornerstone of traditional Chinese culture that has brought a sense of identity and common moral grounding for more than two millennia. However, as the world continues to develop and change so does the values and attitude of its people. The question stands: “What do Chinese people believe?” As written by Kerry Brown and Sheng Keyi in their article “China in the 21st century: Confucianist outside, confused inside”, the answer is never easy.

The controversial article describes Chinese in the 21st Century as ‘more materialistic’, where ‘meanings and faith seem very remote’. Despite this, the Chinese Communist Party has tried to erect new sources of morality, endorsing Confucianism as a leading guide to ethics .

With the increasing push for Confucian Institutes worldwide and Xi Jinping’s endorsement, a cultural revival could be imminent.

According to Dr Rosita Dellios, Associate Professor of International Relations at Bond University, 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.” See: http://gbtimes.com/china/confucius-making-comeback-china

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Confucius’ estate documents set for ancient books protection program

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The National Library of China signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Qufu Bureau of Cultural Relics on Friday to put documents related to Confucius’ estate under a national ancient books protection program.

According to the agreement signed in Qufu City, eastern China’s Shandong Province, the two sides will cooperate in various ways, including publishing books from Confucius’ estate, developing traditional culture, ancient book protection, and training.

Confucius’ estate documents mainly include Confucius family documents, collections of ancient books and the inscriptions on tablets found in Confucius’ mansion.

The archives of Confucius’ mansion has more than 9,000 volumes of Confucius family documents, 40,000 copies of ancient books, and over 4,000 inscription rubbings.

Putting the estate documents of Confucius in the national ancient books protection program will help protect the documents, improve research, and promote traditional Chinese culture, said Liu Dongbo, Party chief of Qufu City.

Confucius (551-479 BC) was an educator and philosopher born in Qufu. He is believed to be the first Chinese person to set up private schools enrolling students from all walks of life.

The original article can be found here.

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What Confucius said – Quote of the week

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Confucianism and Work Ethic in Schools

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The styles of school education and its relative benefits between the East and West are constantly debated: should students be influenced by strict discipline and pressure to perform or creativity and an individualistic approach?

In East Asian countries Confucianism has heavily influenced education systems where an emphasis is placed on respect for elders, harmony and collective values. Within the classroom there is a respect for teachers, a focus on manners and consequences for poor performance or incomplete homework.

International Journal of Educational Management has published a new study that has found “strict, high-discipline countries were the highest performing countries academically.”

Contrary to this, Western countries place a focus on the individual child. Education systems are better at promoting play, creativity, innovation and questioning authority, which might have harder-to-measure benefits.

As Western countries are falling behind in academic performance internationally, incorporating Confucian values into Western culture could be seen as a way forward for academic excellence.

According to lead author of both studies, associate professor Chris Baumann from Macquarie University, “The likely outlook is that Western countries may sooner or later aspire to a balanced pedagogic approach to education, where the playful elements remain, but discipline might be tightened up again since the successes in Asia suggest strict discipline and a focus on academic performance ‘pay off’, and the results of our study point in that direction.”

You can find the original article here.

 

What Confucius said – Quote of the week

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New Book Release: The Happiness of Confucius

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Dr. Xiduo Cao’s new book release “The Happiness of Confucius” brings a new perspective to understanding Confucius as well as raises the questions: Was Confucius a happy person? How would we know? Why should we care?

Confucius was one of the earliest and greatest educationists and philosophers in Chinese history. He had a great influence on the culture, politics, history and ways of living and thinking in China. How can a person who lived more than 2500 years ago have such a deep influence and retain such high prestige in China and even in the world?

According to Dr. Xiduo Cao’s new book “The Happiness of Confucius”, one of the secrets of Confucius’ achievement and influence lies in the fact that he was a happy person.

For those of us who live in the 21th century, one of the most important lessons we can learn from Confucius is that of happiness. Specifically, there were six sources of Confucius’ happiness: learning, teaching, being a gentlemen, music, nature, and chasing the dream. Readers can learn about each source of the happiness of Confucius in great detail by reading this book.

Along with this, readers will see various pictures of lotus’ in this book, all of which are photographic works of Mrs. Min Chen, who is the author’s Mom as well as her earliest Chinese traditional culture tutor.

In Chinese, the word lotus has the same pronunciation with the word harmony, and thus has become a symbol of harmony. Harmony is a very essential concept in the theory of Confucianism. Confucius believed that true happiness comes from being harmonious with oneself, with the family, with the nation, as well as with the whole world.

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To read the original article and comments of this book click here

 

Voting with Their Feet: How Early Ruism (Confucianism) Conceived of the Relationship Between the State and its Citizens

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Following from the article “A Chart of Ruist Virtues”, Bin Song writes about ‘friendship’ among the five cardinal human relationships.

Unlike the other human relationships, friendship is generally with people who are outside of the family, and it is also egalitarian. Considering that Ruist ethics is usually thought of as centering upon family and socio-political hierarchy, it may be a surprise to learn that Ruism actually places a human relationship which is neither familial nor hierarchical among the five most important.

What may seem even more surprising is that for Mencius and his Ru school, friendship is not only one of the five most important human relationships, but it is also the model for the relationship between the state and its citizens: “Friendship is the Way (Dao) between the ruler and his subjects” (“友, 君臣之道.” – the Chu Bamboo Stripes in Guodian). In other words, just as people can freely choose their friends based upon their virtues and merits, the ruler of a state can also be chosen. Though the ruler could not, of course, have been chosen by ballot, something which was not available in the social context of Mencius’ time, even so, Mencius highly recommended that people should vote with their feet. We can see this is the case from the following conversation between Mencius and King Xuan of Qi, which concerns the difference between two kinds of ministers:

The King Xuan of Qi asked about the ministers who are noble and relatives of a ruler. Mencius answered, “If the ruler has great faults, they ought to remonstrate against him, and if he does not listen to them after they have done so again and again, they ought to dethrone him.” The king was stunned and changed his countenance. Mencius said, “Let not your Majesty be offended. You asked me, and I dare not answer but according to truth.”

…Relying on this conversation and other related texts, we can summarize Mencius’ view as follows: within an aristocratic monarchy, which was the prevalent form of government in the period of the Warring States (475-221 B.C.E), ministers should assist their ruler in being virtuous just as though they were exhorting a friend.

 

The original article can be found here.