The Return of Confucius

June 4, 2014

The bronze sculpture of Confucius stands tall at 31 feet (9.5 meters) and is described as having a serious expression. Four months after appearing in Tienanmen Square staring at Mao portrait hanging from the walls of the Forbidden City, the statue—without fanfare—was quietly moved to the courtyard of a museum in Beijing.

Chang writes, “Confucius is enjoying a revival, in books and films, on TV and in classrooms…” In fact, a $500-million dollar museum-and-park complex is under construction in his hometown of Qufu in Shandong Province that includes a statue of Confucius almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

For those who don’t know, Mao declared war on Confucianism and education during the Cultural Revolution.

My wife, who grew up in China during Mao’s era, still believes Confucian values for harmony and peace are what made China weak and a victim to Western Imperialism during the 19th century and to the Japanese during World War II. She may be right. At the time, China believed it was too civilized to worry and wasn’t prepared to defend itself as it is today.

However, she also says to pay attention to the small things the government does. Don’t expect Chinese to be as direct as Westerners.

There’s a strong message in Confucius standing opposite Mao across the vastness of Tiananmen Square as if he were scolding Mao for what he did and few mainland Chinese will miss the meaning. Mao, the student, has been chastised and Tiger Mothers such as Amy Chua are being sent a message to stay tough with their children when it comes to having the kids eat bitterness and sacrifice having fun while working hard earning an education.

Confucius wouldn’t want it any other way.

Now that China is a capitalist/socialist nation with an open market economy, the need for Confucian values is making a comeback with government support. Confucius taught duty to family, respect for learning, virtuous behavior (three traits rare in the West) and obedience of individuals to the state.

What Chang doesn’t say is that Confucius also had expectations for the state to lead by example and to act the part of a gentleman. China’s leaders are aware that they are responsible to provide security for the nation and economic progress for the people in ways that most Western rulers would never consider.

Although China’s central government hasn’t launched a Western style public relations campaign to resurrect Confucian values, which are still a strong foundation for most Chinese families, Chang indicates that we will see some top leaders promoting Confucianism.

In fact, in 2010, a movie of Confucius with Chow Yun Fat was filmed and released in China.

There’s another message that most American weapons’ manufactures and conservative hawks won’t want the world to understand. If China is really moving back to Confucian values, that means China will not be the aggressor in war but will keep a modern military for defense only.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouseis the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Is it possible to gain more freedom in China through Confucianism?

December 31, 2013

It is obvious that the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] had been moving cautiously and slowly toward implementing a participatory form of government but slower than they have done to build the highly successful market economy that is driving China’s prosperity today.

I read Moving China Toward Democracy: A Confucian Framework written by Kyle Baxter.  It is a thoughtful piece. It is still to be determined if Baxter’s ideas will work, but evidence suggests that the CCP is moving in that direction.

What has been historically the cornerstone of most Chinese governments has been a legal system known as Legalism that comes with harsh punishments. Recent signs of movement away from Legalism toward more freedoms and transparency might be seen in the open and televised trial of Bo Xilai, a popular and powerful figure in the CCP.

If Confucianism were to be the bedrock of a representative government in China, China’s critics in the West would have less to complain about.

China has never really adopted Confucian principles for political rule. Since Confucianism values individual rights along with family values, this transition would pave the way for China to retain its cultural identity and join the world as a country with more freedoms for its people—but not necessarily a democracy by definition.

Some evidence that this is happening may be seen in the next video about China easing the one-child policy and ending labor camps.

Under Confucianism, Baxter says, “Government, then, becomes an institution to protect the people, and not to control them; to encourage them toward a proper way of life, and not a totalitarian state. … Confucianism is a viable framework for a constitutional democracy, and uniquely positions China for success as a modern nation.”

Deng Xiaoping said it best, “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.”

Discover the Influence of Confucius

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Confucian Harmony Today

September 11, 2012

In China, harmony plays an important role in everyday life. Cultural etiquette among Chinese revolves around harmony as Confucius taught. “Confucianism still plays an important role in Chinese society. It is a system of ethics and conduct, the obligations of people toward each other based on their relationships.” Source: Doing Business in China: Cultural Manners

 

The philosophy behind Feng Shui supports this concept since it is how to create harmony and balance in your living and working environment. Feng Shui came about when it was observed that people are affected by their surroundings with some places luckier, happier, healthier or more peaceful than others are.

Even the way the government in China does business is governed by the same concepts. As much as most Americans and Europeans seem incapable of understanding China, the Chinese often see foreigners as barbaric when they do not behave properly according to Chinese standards. Understanding is a two way street.

For example: Last weekend, I got up to wash dishes in the sink while my wife and daughter were still eating. My wife said when we have Chinese guests it is impolite to do that since it signals to the guests that it is time to leave. It is best to soak the dishes and leave them until the guests go.

Discover Honor Chinese Style.

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China


Older than the New Testament

September 10, 2012

A conservative, born-again Christian friend once said that Communism was evil and that China needed a proper legal system. Since China already has a legal system, what did he mean? I’ve known this individual for decades, and I’m sure he meant that China should have a legal system like the one in America or the U.K. After all, he claims scripture guides his life and the Christian Bible has been around for centuries proving it comes from God. There is no other choice.

The problem with that logic is Confucius walked the earth long before Christ, and the New Testament didn’t exist for centuries after Christ was gone. What Confucius taught has been around longer.

What about China’s legal system?

The highest agency in China is the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. This agency is responsible for both prosecution and investigation in the People’s Republic of China. Similar institutions influence the office of the Procurator in the Socialist legal system. Its direct predecessor in China is the Supreme Court of the Republic of China, which in turn is descended from the Procuratorial Office of the late Qing Dynasty.

The Chinese legal system may have been broken during Mao’s Cultural Revolution but not any longer. It also appears that China’s legal system is an organic institution capable of change as seen in this piece from the Dui Hua Human Rights Journal.

Discover a Chinese Police Officer in Action

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China


The two faces of Confucius – Part 5/5

December 24, 2011

Troy Parfitt, the author of Why China Will Never Rule the World – Travels in the Two Chinas says the Analects of Confucius represents only stone-age logic and dictums posing as wisdom that support tyranny. He says the Confucian concept of piety is virtually identical in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Macau.

However, Mr. Parfitt does not mention that Confucian philosophy is also practiced in democratic republics such as South Korea, Japan and the Philippians. In fact, people in all of East Asia practice different aspects of Confucian philosophy.

A hallmark of Confucius’ thought is his emphasis on education and study. He disparaged those who have faith in natural understanding or intuition and argued that the only real understanding of a subject comes from long and careful study.

Thus, under Confucianism, teachers and scholars were regarded, like oldest males and fathers, as unquestioned authorities [unless they lose the trust of the people by not doing their job].

In fact, the philosophy of Confucianism is not blind obedience. It is earned obedience. In addition, due to the value placed on eduction and merit, those in positions of power usually earned his or her position through hard work and merit and not popularity as in most liberal democracies.


Religion and Spirituality in Singapore

The face of Confucianism that pertains to tyranny is the political propaganda that governments in East Asia have used for centuries in futile attempts to convince the people to blindly obey.  The only countries this has worked well in so far are Japan and North Korea.

Yet, Japan, with its Confucian dictums that puts loyalty before filial piety became a parliamentary republic and one of its most innovative corporations, Toyota, is the number one global auto manufacturer with GM running second place. If we were to accept Parfitt’s opinion that Confucianism supports tyranny and not innovation, there is no way that Toyota could have been as successful as it has been.

If anyone doubts the power of Confucian loyalty and obedience in Japan, this is what Rutgers University has to say on the subject, “In modern Japanese society one is loyal to one’s immediate group, the “company”, the family, etc., just as previously the emperor, the shogun, or other lords commanded total obedience.”

What Parfitt doesn’t seem to understand is that in the family and in the village, Confucian social philosophy largely revolves around the concept ofren, “compassion” or “loving others” and not on blind obedience to the government.

Subjecting oneself to ritual does not, however, mean suppressing one’s desires but instead learning how to reconcile one’s own desires with the needs of one’s family and community.

If the political face of Confucianism was successful and crippled innovation as Mr. Parfitt preached in our debate, then China would have never invented silk, paper, the printing press, gunpowder, multi-stage rockets, the compass and so much more—centuries before these innovations reached the West.

Instead, the face of Confucianism with the most influence comes through the family—not the government—and in the family, the people learn the meaning behind the Mandate of Heaven and the value of a merit based education.

Return to The two-faces of Confucius – Part 4 or start with Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you
love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page.

About iLook China


The two faces of Confucius – Part 4/5

December 23, 2011

When comparing the practice of Confucianism in China to Japan, a report by Wai-ming Ng at the Chinese University in Hong Kong says, “The relationship between loyalty and filial piety, two fundamental virtues in Confucianism, has been a subject of concern among Confucian scholars in East Asia for many centuries.

“Many modern Japanese scholars believe that the main difference between Japanese Confucianism and Chinese Confucianism rests with their preference between loyalty and filial piety, suggesting that Japanese Confucianism puts  loyalty [to the government] before filial piety, whereas Chinese Confucianism prefers filial piety [in the family] to loyalty [of the government].”

That difference may be explained by China’s concept of the Mandate of Heaven, which says that heaven would bless the authority of a just ruler, as defined by the Five Confucian Relationships, but would be displeased with a despotic ruler and would withdraw its mandate, leading to the overthrow of that ruler. The Chinese people, of course, would be heaven’s hammer, which does not sound very obedient.

However, in Japan, the Mandate of Heaven is not practiced the same as in China. While the Chinese may protest and rebel, the Japanese tend to shy away from this behavior.

In The Coming China, Joseph King Goodrich says, “Obedience in China is a word that connotates far more than it does in Japan. It means obedience to the emperor, to the parent, to the family and to the government, although the Japanese have the reputation of being singularly marked with this trait.”


Confucianism = ritual, etiquette and being kind to one another

In China, the difference lies in the mandate to rule, which means that leaders do not tax the people unjustly. They make sure people have sufficient food and live in an orderly and peaceful society.

Confucian political philosophy is also rooted in the belief that a ruler should learn self-discipline, should govern his subjects by his own example, and should treat them with love and concern.

By providing these things, Confucius believed leaders would earn the confidence, trust and obedience of the people. By not providing these things, China’s leaders would lose the trust and obedience of the people.

One element of Confucianism that runs strong throughout East Asia is that Confucianism regards government and education as inseparable. Without a good education, it is considered impossible to find leaders who possess the virtues to run a government.

Confucius asked, “What has one who is not able to govern himself, to do with governing others?”

Continued on December 18, 2011 in The two-faces of Confucius – Part 5 or return to Part 3

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page.

About iLook China


The two faces of Confucius – Part 3/5

December 22, 2011

Confucianism is not an organized religion as Christianity, Buddhism and Islam are.

Instead, Confucianism is a philosophy for how to live life, and it is taught and/or learned in the home and family as one grows up and parents and family are the role models.

One face of Confucianism is the influence of the family on children, which may explain why China’s civilization and culture has survived for so long without a total meltdown such as what happened in Europe after the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476 AD plunging Europe into the Dark Ages for a thousand years.

The other face of Confucianism is the political side where Dynasties and Emperors promoted obedience to the state in a futile attempt to control the behavior of the people.  An incomplete list of about twenty rebellions and civil wars in China, with the first being in 209 BC, demonstrates how this face of Confucianism seldom works.

In addition, although Confucius may never have intended for this to happen, over the millennia, his philosophy of life traveled throughout East Asia and influenced countries such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

For centuries, the notion of harmony, closely identified with Confucianism, has resonated in other Asian traditions and societies and continues to do so today. Both Japan and Korea were deeply influenced by China and have long accorded great value to the concept.

In fact, the influence of Confucius was felt as far away as the Philippines.

The earliest date suggested for direct Chinese contact with the Philippines was 982 AD, while the West’s Ferdinand Magellan did not arrive until 1521, so China had contact with the Philippines more than five centuries before Europeans arrived.


Who is Confucius and what does Confucianism really mean. About one billion people follow the philosophy of Confucianism.

Asia Times says, “The teachings of Confucius run like a red thread through the political history of East Asia. Numerous leaderships in the region’s history used the sage to legitimize their own grip on a fragmented kingdom.”

For Japan, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says, “The importance of Confucianism in Japanese history is undeniable…”

In fact, during World War II, the Japanese attempted using Confucian values to gain the obedience of the Chinese people but due to a lack of understanding of how the Chinese practiced Confucianism, the Japanese failed to win the people’s trust and obedience.

In addition, in his fight against the communists during China’s Civil War, Chiang Kai-shek described himself as Confucius’ true heir, and it was Chiang that made the study of Confucius mandatory for high school students.

In the home, the other face of Confucianism shows itself and children are taught to respect parents, elders and teachers and emphasizes the importance of working hard to earn an education.

One element of Confucianism the Chinese people have not forgotten is the right to protest and rebel against an unjust and corrupt government.

Continued on December 17, 2011 in The two-faces of Confucius – Part 4 or return to Part 2

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page.

About iLook China


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,387 other followers