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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Confucius Institutes' hidden agenda

Confucius, Communist China’s new poster boy, has become synonym of soft power abroad. Genu flexing to Confucius makes it all worthwhile for Beijing’s dictators who avidly want to spread the Party culture worldwide.
Firstly the plan was to establish 100 Communist Party Culture Schools by 2010, but the goal has been almost achieved already. Now the target is set for 500. In Canada there is one such institute in Vancouver, BC since February 2005, one more will open in Waterloo, Ontario in January 2007 and soon after in Toronto. They are being set up in 36 countries even in Rwanda. One may only wonder what’s in it for China knowing too well that they don’t give a heck about Confucius teachings of virtue and free speech.

Some scholars think that teaching Chinese history is not an entirely bad thing…hmmm! It wouldn’t be so bad if we would know what’s in the textbooks. For example: one major concern is this stipulation on the Hanban’s websites stating: "Overseas Confucius Institutes must abide by the One-China Policy." That is a bit disturbing…will the textbooks be filled with anti-democracy, anti-Falun Gong material glorifying the Party complete with slogans of “Peaceful development road” and “Harmonious society”?

One only has to examine what took place when fascist dictator Mussolini began a similar campaign to promote Italian-language instruction in American schools.

“About a decade after he seized power...Textbooks sang the praises of Mussolini's government. "Fascism has remade Italy," boasted Andiamo in Italia ("Let's Go Italy"), a text used in New York public schools. "Italy was a disorderly and disorganized country in which all wanted to talk more loudly without listening to the voice of the ruler. Now this voice which commands is well heard by all and order has been restored as if by a miracle." After 1941, when the United States declared war on Italy, such propaganda came to a halt.” (more)

Meanwhile, Shanghai recently announced that it is going ahead with the revision of China’s history textbooks. Are these maneuvers tied in with their pursuit of global domination?

“China's era of domination by overseas imperialists (the “century of humiliation”), plus traditional Marxist class-struggle concepts, and even Mao himself have been downplayed in favor of a non-Sino centric take on both domestic PRC and global history -- that much is fact. But some in the U.S. dangerously mistake this refocusing of education toward the future, and toward globalization, as a major sea change in China -- wrongly interpreting it as a generation of post-Mao rigidity suddenly yielding to an abandonment of longstanding Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ideology." (more)

There is definitely a parallel between this theory and the communist institutes abroad.

"The linchpin in understanding China's true agenda to become a communist superpower can be found in Deng's ideologically innovative concept known as “shelving.” Shelving means that some main goals will simply have to wait, while their prerequisites and precursors are first accomplished and consolidated. The achievement of pure communism -- the PRC's unchanging raison d'etre -- has been explicitly shelved for about the next half-century, but certainly not abandoned. Socialism is an intermediate waypoint along this journey, as always in Marxist-Leninist thought." (more)

Importing the Party culture overseas is just another way to brainwash people to further their own end.

"Hopefully, readers will now better understand the true background and impact of the revisions to Shanghai's history textbooks. Pragmatically, China needs a worldly-wise elite in order to optimize its targeted gains from carefully compartmentalized globalization. It won't do for Beijing's heirs to the mantle of power, including the so-called “princelings” (children of China's leaders of the past 30 years), to come across on the world stage as a gaggle of retro bumpkins. One must also bear in mind that only the history curriculum is changing. Mandatory courses in politics, CCP-style, remain. So does the standard post-Tianenmen xenophobic and patriotism engendering practice of how to teach reading in grammar school. This practice relies on anecdotes glorifying young people who helped fight the Japanese in World War II, resisted Chiang Kaishek's army during the 1949 Civil War, or endured great toils to help their collective's work team exceed its production quota during the Great Leap Forward. That's as Maoist as you can get." (more)

The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party summarize in a few words what can be expected from the Party Culture.

“Throughout history, whenever the CCP encountered crises, it would demonstrate some traces of improvement, enticing people to develop illusions about the CCP. Without exception, the illusions were shattered time and again. Today, the CCP has pursued short-term benefits and in doing so has produced a show of economic prosperity that has once again persuaded the people to believe in fantasies about the CCP. However, the fundamental conflicts between the interest of the CCP and that of the nation and the people determine that this false prosperity will not last. The “reform” the CCP has promised has one purpose – to maintain its rule. It is a lame reform, a change in surface but not in substance. Underneath the lopsided development lies a great social crisis. Once the crisis breaks out, the nation and the people will suffer once again.

With the change of leadership, the new generation of CCP leaders had no part in the Communist revolution, and therefore has less and less prestige and credibility in managing the nation. Amidst the crisis of its legitimacy, the CCP’s protection of the Party’s interests has increasingly become the basic guarantee for maintaining the interests of individuals within the CCP. The CCP’s nature is selfish. It knows no restraints. To hope such a party might devote itself to developing the country peacefully is wishful thinking.” (more)

Who was Confucius?

Confucius, or Kongqiu to his friends, was born in what today is Shantung, a province of north-east China, in 551BC, and was a philosopher, teacher, educator, and statesman. He died in 479BC.

A thinker, then. But what did he think?

He was keen on virtue, which he saw as a blend of moderation, loving thy neighbour and being honest. Disgraced as a minister of justice, he was opposed to laws, which he saw as making people dishonest and making them act out of shameless self-interest rather than virtue. He believed that you made people virtuous by example, not punishment.

What is his connection with Chinese education?

Referred to as "the First Teacher", he had six disciples, who passed on his ideas and "recalled" some extra ones after his death. He believed in a well-rounded education, combining activities such as archery and lute-playing with ethics. But moral education was the most important. For him, it was better to be virtuous than to seek truth for its own sake.

How would he have fared in modern China?

He wouldn't have had a chance to experience it as he would doubtless have been killed during the Cultural Revolution.

What would he make of modern China?

Not a lot. While he was no democrat, he did believe in freedom of speech. He was opposed to luxury, and particularly the means that people use to acquire it. Very family-oriented, he would have found the Chinese one-child policy very hard to accept. (more)

Related Articles:

International Herald Tribune: China's leaders rediscover Confucianism

Toronto Star, Canada: Wielding soft power

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