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Confucius’ wisdom is still cherished after two millennia

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Confucius’ wisdom is still cherished after two millennia

October 25
23:12 2021
By Shan Jie, Lin Mengyue and Pang Yue in Jining

After two millennia, Confucianism, a philosophy that is considered to have helped form China’s society, still shines its light today by influencing and inspiring people all around the world with its advocacy for education, harmony and other excellent qualities of humanity.

In his hometown Jining, in East China’s Shandong Province, the thoughts of the great philosopher of Confucius have been proudly inherited and are now been promoted to other parts of the world.

With the growth of China’s influence in the world and the Belt and Road Initiative, quoting Confucius or applying his 2,000-year-old wisdom has become a trend. Growing numbers of people around the world are recognizing and embracing the wisdom of Confucianism.

Marked with international events

Confucius’ 2,572nd birthday was celebrated in his hometown Qufu, in Jining, on September 28, 2021. Hundreds took part in the ceremony in the morning at the Temple of Confucius, including local senior officials, foreign envoys, scholars, and Confucius’ descendants.

The ceremony also featured performances by students from local colleges using ancient etiquette. Li Jiaming, student at Qufu Fareast College, told the Global Times that he and his schoolmates rehearsed for a week for their performance. “It is a great way to get to know this important ancestor and his wisdom for us,” Li said.

Similar ceremonies were also held around China and other countries like South Korea where Confucius has a deep influence.

Together with the Confucius Ceremony, the International Confucius Cultural Festival was launched featuring the international Nishan Forum, a space to discuss about culture and civilization, as well as the Confucius Culture Week for Chinese and foreign students.

The 2021 festival includes both online and offline events aimed at followers of Confucian culture around the world.

Founded in 1989, the International Confucius Cultural Festival is one of the largest national and international tourism festivals integrating culture, tourism, and scholarly and scientific activities to promote ancient Chinese culture.

Dancers perform during the Confucius Cultural Festival. Photo: Pang Yue/GT

Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, said in a congratulatory letter that only through dialogue can different civilizations work together, inspire each other, and find answers to problems. He believes that in this process, the Confucian civilization will definitely exert its unique values.

Yasuo Fukuda, honorary Chairman of the Organizing Committee of Nishan Forum on World Civilization and former Prime Minister of Japan, said that the scheduled holding of this forum itself is to promote meaningful dialogue among diverse civilizations and illuminate the turbulent and confused world.

The influence of the Chinese philosopher could also be seen at Confucius Institutes that have opened around the world.

As of 2019, there were 550 Confucius Institutes and 1,172 Confucius Classrooms in 162 countries and regions. These efforts aim to deepen international understanding of the Chinese language and culture and promote people-to-people exchanges between China and other countries.

Treasure of thoughts for modern world

Confucius was born in Zouyi more than 2,000 years ago, a region that now belongs to Jining. From this place, his thoughts formed and developed and were later spread around China and nearby countries. 

China’s close neighbors like as Japan, Korea and Vietnam all have been deeply influenced by Confucianism, and it’s footprint can still be seen in their traditional etiquette and cultures.

In the past decades, the wisdom of Confucianism has been spreading, reaching places far away from its place of origin. People admire Confucius’ thoughts on harmony, education and many other aspects and the classics of Confucianism have become an important section in Chinese language learning.

Liu Xubing, head of the Confucius Research Institute in Qufu, told the Global Times that the most fundamental question in Confucianism is how to deal with the relationships between men, between our inside and our outside, between individuals and society, as well as between countries.

“That’s why we underline kindheartedness, which is important for the changing world today with so many conflicts,” he said, adding that this is the reason “why China could put forward the Belt and Road Initiative and keep its stance as a responsible big country today.”

“The thought of kindheartedness and tolerance promoted by Confucius is a gift from the Chinese people to the world,” Liu noted.

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