Picture of the day: Come-and-go of Confucius

April 22, 2011Jing GaoOne Comment, , , , , , ,

A mammoth sculpture of the ancient philosopher Confucius was unveiled in early January off one side of highly symbolic Tiananmen Square. China watchers and media home and abroad paid much attention to it as it could signal that the authorities is preaching Confucianism.

However, Wednesday night, the sculpture was gone. The sudden disappearance once again led to widespread speculation as to what that means to the political prospect of the country.

If you are wondering why Chinese people make a fuss about the come-and-go of a statue, you should know the core ideas of this ancient philosopher. Confucianism stresses harmony of relationships that are hierarchical yet provide benefits to both superior and inferior, a thought deemed useful and advantageous to Chinese authoritarian rulers of all times for its careful preservation of the class system.

However, after the Communist Party took over China in 1949, Mao Zedong, who was then an advocate for egalitarian values and gained grassroots support for promising equity, lashed out at Confucius for being a champion of the old feudal society and the ruling class. Mao once famously said, according to his nephew Mao Yuanxin, “If the Communist Party has a day when it cannot rule or has met difficulty and needs to invite Confucius back, it means you (note: the Party) are coming to an end.” (如果共产党也到了自己没法统治或者遇到难处了,也要把孔子请回来,说明你也快完了。)

That’s why erecting the statue of Confucius on one side of Tiananmen Square is extremely odd and ironic, considering Mao’s embalmed body lies right at its center inside a mausoleum. When it happened, astute observers smelt revisionism, whereas the younger generation, having no memory of the massive anti-Confucius campaign, simply embraced the harmonious gesture.

Three months later, the removal of the statue catches people attention again. The masses are angry with the government’s jerking the sage around, whereas the political are really puzzled and full of thoughts.

“It just wastes ordinary people’s money,” one netizen, according to AFP.


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1 comment to “Picture of the day: Come-and-go of Confucius”

  1. [...] Gao from the Ministry of Tofu explains the political implications of the appearance and disappearance of the sculpture of Confucius in Tiananmen Square. [...]

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