Will passion for reading revive Confucianism?


by Xinhua writer Wang Jiaquan
BEIJING, Dec. 6 — Two Confucian books have become hits on China’s online bookstores since President Xi Jinping brought them into the spotlight during his inspection tour last month to the sage’s hometown of Qufu in Shandong Province.
The two books are annotations to the analects and the family instructions of Confucius. While in Qufu at the end of November, Xi said that he would like to read them closely.
The passion for reading stimulated by the president’s interest reflects the gradual return of Confucianism since the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), when the ancient thinker’s teachings were labeled “poisonous weeds.”
The country’s economic growth and its rise in the international arena require a cultural stimulus as China seeks a great renewal of the nation.
As President Xi put it in Qufu, a nation thrives only when its culture prospers.
Only second to the United States in the size of its economy, China feels it falls short in cultural glamour, both domestically and on the world stage, as Western cultural icons have grabbed the hearts of the nation’s young people.
There are also concerns about moral decline amid commercial booms, as food safety scandals, hit-and-runs with apathetic passers-by, and other events have ignited a roar of disapproval at online forums but have resulted in little real change.
In their soul searching, many people have lamented the loss of Confucianism and pinned hope on the return of the ancient teachings that advocate benevolence, altruism and self-discipline.
As an essential part of traditional Chinese culture, Confucianism may play an important role in reshaping people’s values, which have been impacted greatly under the waves of commercialism of past decades.
The question, however, is whether the ancient teachings can appeal to the generations born in the age of economic and cultural globalization. Confucius has many competitors vying to attract young people’s admiration.
Previously, Confucian books witnessed similar revivals years ago, when Yu Dan, a professor at Beijing Normal University, created a sensation with her modern interpretations to the Analects of Confucius, the philosopher’s most-read book.
Now, Confucian books have once again attracted public attention thanks to the interest of President Xi, which was interpreted by experts as a symbol of the top leadership’s appreciation for traditional culture.
Surely, this time Confucianism has received a more powerful promotion by the country’s most powerful man.[db:内容2]