Features

09.08.17

A Drag Queen for the Dearly Departed

Ian Johnson & Tomoko Kikuchi
In the good old days, about three thousand years ago, people really knew how to mourn the dead. That was back in the Zhou dynasty, when there was no laughing in the dead person’s house, no sighing while eating, and no singing while walking down a...

A Revolutionary Discovery in China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
1.As Beijing prepared to host the 2008 Olympics, a small drama was unfolding in Hong Kong. Two years earlier, middlemen had come into possession of a batch of waterlogged manuscripts that had been unearthed by tomb robbers in south-central China...

Confucius Says, Xi Does

Economist
Since he came to power in 2012, Mr Xi has sought to elevate Confucius—whom Mao vilified—as the grand progenitor of Chinese culture.

Books

03.18.15

Confucius

Michael Schuman
Confucius is perhaps the most important philosopher in history. Today, his teachings shape the daily lives of more than 1.6 billion people. Throughout East Asia, Confucius’s influence can be seen in everything from business practices and family relationships to educational standards and government policies. Even as western ideas from Christianity to Communism have bombarded the region, Confucius’s doctrine has endured as the foundation of East Asian culture. It is impossible to understand East Asia, journalist Michael Schuman demonstrates, without first engaging with Confucius and his vast legacy.Confucius created a worldview that is in many respects distinct from, and in conflict with, Western culture. As Schuman shows, the way that East Asian companies are managed, how family members interact with each other, and how governments see their role in society all differ from the norm in the West due to Confucius’s lasting impact. Confucius has been credited with giving East Asia an advantage in today’s world, by instilling its people with a devotion to learning, and propelling the region’s economic progress. Still, the sage has also been highly controversial. For the past 100 years, East Asians have questioned if the region can become truly modern while Confucius remains so entrenched in society. He has been criticized for causing the inequality of women, promoting authoritarian regimes, and suppressing human rights.Despite these debates, East Asians today are turning to Confucius to help them solve the ills of modern life more than they have in a century. As a wealthy and increasingly powerful Asia rises on the world stage, Confucius, too, will command a more prominent place in global culture.Touching on philosophy, history, and current affairs, Confucius tells the vivid, dramatic story of the enigmatic philosopher whose ideas remain at the heart of East Asian civilization.  —Basic Books {chop}

Chinese Studies at the University of Botswana

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
It’s long been said that while China may have an Africa policy, Africans do not have a China policy. In particular, too many Africans do not understand the language, culture, and politics of their new number one trading partner. The University of...

Books

02.10.15

Buried Ideas

Sarah Allan
The discovery of previously unknown philosophical texts from the Axial Age is revolutionizing our understanding of Chinese intellectual history. Buried Ideas presents and discusses four texts found on brush-written slips of bamboo and their seemingly unprecedented political philosophy. Written in the regional script of Chu during the Warring States period (475–221 BCE), all of the works discuss Yao’s abdication to Shun and are related to but differ significantly from the core texts of the classical period, such as the Mencius and Zhuangzi. Notably, these works evince an unusually meritocratic stance, and two even advocate abdication over hereditary succession as a political ideal. Sarah Allan includes full English translations and her own modern-character editions of the four works examined: Tang Yú zhi dao, Zigao, Rongchengshi, and Bao xun. In addition, she provides an introduction to Chu-script bamboo-slip manuscripts and the complex issues inherent in deciphering them. —SUNY Press{chop}

Fidel Castro Wins China’s Alternative Peace Prize

Associated Press
Guardian
In line with past recipients, the ailing Castro did not come to Beijing to pick up his award and it was unclear whether he was aware of the honour. The prize, in the form of a gold statuette and certificate, was instead handed to a Cuban foreign...

Toronto School District Cancels Plans for Confucius Institute

Austin Ramzy
New York Times
Canada’s largest school district moved to terminate its agreement with the institute, which would have offered after-school Chinese language and culture classes, over concerns about China’s human rights record and restrictions on academic freedom.

Media

10.21.14

Chinese Doubt Their Own Soft Power Venture

On September 27, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong read aloud a letter written by President Xi Jinping at a ceremony in Beijing celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Confucius Institute (CI) program, an international chain of academic centers...

China’s Soft-Power Fail

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
This was not the reception that the Chinese government had in mind in 2004 when it inaugurated the Confucius Institute program as a means of improving its image abroad and projecting “soft power.”

Penn State Latest School to Drop China’s Confucius Institute

Douglas Belkin
Wall Street Journal
The action signals increasing discontent on university campuses over the institutes' hiring practices and refusal to acknowledge unflattering chapters of Chinese history...

China's Beachhead in U.S. Schools

David Feith
Wall Street Journal
The Confucius education network shows the promise and peril of doing academic business with Beijing.

Confucius Comes Home

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
In my fifth year in Beijing, I moved into a one-story brick house beside the Confucius Temple, a seven-hundred-year-old shrine to China’s most important philosopher.

Sinica Podcast

11.13.13

Daoism for the Action-Oriented

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
{vertical_photo_right}What Would Confucius Do? What for that matter would Laozi not do? This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy ask these and other questions of Sam Crane, Professor of Contemporary Chinese Politics at Williams College and author of...

Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students Studying Ancient Philosophy?

Christine Gross-Loh
Atlantic
Professor Michael Puett uses Chinese philosophy as a way to give undergraduates concrete, counter-intuitive, and even revolutionary ideas, which teach them how to live a better life, putting ancient Chinese thought in the context of contemporary...