Confucius shows up on Tiananmen Square
There’s a new face keeping Chairman Mao company on Tiananmen Square.
A mammoth sculpture of the ancient philosopher Confucius was unveiled this week off one side of the vast plaza. It’s a juxtaposition for a square the ruling Communist Party treats as politically hallowed ground- a mausoleum holding revolutionary leader Mao Zedong’s body sits in the middle and his giant portrait hangs at one end.
Placing the statue at China’s political heart is the government’s most visible endorsement yet of the 2,500-year-old sage and, selectively, his teachings.
Confucius is enjoying a revival, in books and films, on TV and in classrooms. His message of harmonious social order and deference to authority is unthreatening to the party, while his emphasis on ethics resonates among Chinese coping with fast-paced social change on the back of torrid economic growth.
The government is increasingly marshalling his popularity to bolster national identity. “The rise of a big country requires a cultural foundation, and Chinese culture upholds the spirit of harmony,” said Wu Weishan, the sculptor, who has made more than 200 statues of the philosopher. “The essential thoughts of Confucius are love, kindness, wisdom and generosity. And peace and prosperity are what the people are striving for.”
The 31-foot (9.5-meter) bronze sculpture depicts a robed Confucius with a serious expression and sits on the east side of the square, facing in the direction of Mao’s portrait and amid the bustle of Beijing. Chinese tourists busily snapped photos and agreed that Confucius’ teachings bear a message for modern China. “Confucianism has been governing the lives and ethics of Chinese for thousands of years,” said 25-year-old engineer Cui Xiaozhan, on a business trip from the eastern city of Qingdao. “We should study it. But everyone is too busy and tired.”
Confucius laid down a code of ethics that was adopted as a quasi-religious national philosophy of governance and personal behaviour. His teachings emphasized duty to family, respect for learning, virtuous behaviour and obedience of individuals to the state.
BEIJING (AFP) – China has unveiled a statue of
The 7.9-metre (26-feet) tall statue stands at an entrance to China's National Museum, which fronts Tiananmen Square and its communist monuments such as late revolutionary leader Mao's tomb in the heart of the capital.
The teachings of China's most famous philosopher, who was born in 551 BC, centred on peace, harmony and each citizen's duty to respect their superiors.
They became a virtual state religion but were denounced as feudal and banned under Mao's communist regime, particularly during the icon-smashing years of the radical Cultural Revolution.
The 1966-76 mass political movement against "old" ways and thinking was originally launched by Mao in a bid to neutralise potential political rivals.
The new statue faces across Beijing's main thoroughfare toward the Forbidden City, the former Chinese imperial home, where a huge portrait of Mao hangs over the complex's entrance.
The National Museum, which is on the east side of the square, has been closed for more than three years for a major renovation. Media reports said it could reopen this year.
The Beijing Daily newspaper quoted an unnamed official as saying the statue was erected this week to recognise
With government support,
In 2009, a
Last September, Chinese officials in Beijing marked the philosopher's birthday at a ceremony in a Confucian temple, the first time it was celebrated in the capital since at least 1949.