Taking Confucius out of Taiwan is a fool's game: The China Post

Children lining up behind a statue of Confucius after a class at a Confucius kindergarten in Wuhan, China.
Children lining up behind a statue of Confucius after a class at a Confucius kindergarten in Wuhan, China.PHOTO: AFP

In its editorial on March 22, the paper dismisses the Democratic Progressive Party's recent efforts to de-Confucianise Taiwan as a pointless endeavour.

TAIPEI (THE CHINA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - China is the world's first and only continuing civilisation, one reason being what French sinologist Etienne Balazs has called "officialism."

Its most conspicuous sign is the uninterrupted continuity of a ruling class of scholar officials steeped in Confucian classics. The civil service examination system produces them. Moreover, Confucianism had taught work ethic, tens of centuries before the Calvinistic Protestant ethic was introduced to the West.

On the other hand, Confucianism has been under question in China since China began modernising.

One slogan of the May Fourth Movement of 1919 is "Down with the Shop of Confucius'."

Young scholars and students believed Confucianism so weakened China as to become the hypokolonie or semi-colony of the world powers.

Incidentally, the Communist Party of China was created, as a result.

Mao Zedong, a founding member of the CCP, started "criticising Confucius and eulogising the First Emperor of Qin" when he released his Red Guards in 1966 to retake the helm of the ship of state from then President Liu Shaoqi.

Mao's groupies ransacked Confucian temples, but Confucianism wasn't rooted out, just as the May Fourth students miserably failed to dethrone the Great Sage of China.

In Taiwan, President Chen Shui-bian kicked off a de-Confucianisation movement, while he was in office as part of his de-Sinicisation policy.

He had the birthday of Confucius abolished as the public holiday of Teachers' Day.

Ma Ying-jeou, who succeeded Chen as president, did not restore the national holiday, though he attended the birthday ceremonies of the Sage every year. Then, President Tsai Ing-wen made the day a national holiday for the workers but not for the teachers, a starter for the resumption by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of Chen's de-Sinicisation campaign.

Lin Chia-lung, mayor of Taichung, has condemned the Kuomintang for restoring the original Confucian temple which had been dismantled by the Japanese colonial government to make room for a Shinto shrine.

The DPP mayor, who studied political philosophy at Yale, did not blame the Japanese for the dismantling but complained against the Kuomintang administration of Taichung for barbarous brutality.

Only last week, Lin Cheng-yi, newly appointed curator of the National Palace Museum, announced he would de-Confucianise by taking away the Sage's honourific sobriquet of "Eternal Paragon".

The reason?

He claimed "some people question the relation between Confucius and Taiwan."

In order just to avoid "creating confrontation in society," he said, "it's better to remove that honoured title."

Will it?

Not even educated idiots like him will believe it will.

Chinese culture is a Confucian one.

Confucianism is a part of Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures, too. It is so in the Chinese-diasporic states of Singapore and Malaysia.

As a matter of fact, economists credit Confucianism for driving these countries, Taiwan and China for economic success in the latter part of the 20th century.

That's the reason why the May Fourth Movement failed to depose Confucius, the Red Guards could not dethrone him, and the People's Republic of China is now working hard to reinstate its greatest Sage of all time.

Mao's de-Confucianisation is compared to a Quixotic attack on the windmill.

Has President Tsai metamorphosed into a Don Quixote de la Mancha, using the two Lins as her Sancho Panzas? Maybe.

However, all of them look more like what Dr Chiang Wei-shui, known as the Dr Sun Yat-sen of Taiwan, diagnosed as "feeble-minded children of world culture" in his masterwork of 1919 titled "A Clinical Lecture."

They are lazy, vain, pompous, greedy, superstitious, and ready to grasp every chance to make instant gains.

The China Post is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 news media entities.