Thursday, July 30, 2009

Embracing Confucius as a way of living

BEIJING, July 29 -- It's heartening to hear that China will translate five classics of Confucianism into nine foreign languages to spread Confucian values.
This comes at a time when values such as mutual respect and self-restraint are often lacking in daily life and appallingly absent in high-profile cases of greed and confrontation worldwide.
The five classics: Shijing ("Classic of Poetry"), Shujing ("Classic of History"), Liji ("Classic of Rites"), Yijing ("Classic of Changes"), and Chunqiu ("Spring and Autumn Annals").
Xinhua news agency reported on Monday that lack of modern translations made it difficult to spread the five classics worldwide. Xinhua called the five books "the origin of Chinese Confucianism."
Indeed, you probably have heard of Confucius and some of his famous quotations, but Shijing, China's first collection of poems, said to be edited by Confucius, may well be unfamiliar.
And yet those poems, mainly about pure love and hard work, represented one of the best moral textbooks in the view of Confucius. Read it throughout your life and absorb its meaning, and you may well refrain from various indulgences - material, sexual and intellectual.
Confucian ethics do not rely on religion to teach people to do good - Confucius believes man simply can do good and seek what is good.
To be sure, Chinese culture is not all about Confucianism, which basically teaches mutual respect and self-restraint. The Legalist tradition, which emphasizes rule by law (not rule of law), dominated feudal China for thousands of years. Confucianism is more about cultivation of personal character, or at least, it puts character building (xiushen) before everything else, be it managing a family or a state.
Translating the five books into nine foreign languages will help people far away to understand Confucius as universal teachings. The question arises: if many foreigners don't understand Confucianism, do we Chinese today do better?
On July 18, I took a taxi to Pudong International airport and the driver joked to me: "Confucianism has influenced both China and Japan, but compared with the Japanese, we seem to be fake Confucianists."
He was on to something and I knew what he meant. Japanese people are polite to each other at home and in public places, as Confucius teaches, but filial piety and public manners are often missing in China nowadays. Confucius said: "When you go out, treat others as very important people." Japanese bow to each other, but many of us carelessly spit in front of each other.
At traffic intersections, few Japanese - Americans and many other Westerners for that matter - run red lights, but how about we Chinese? Are we good at mutual respect, self-restraint and yielding the right of way?
On my flight to Hokkaido for vacation on July 18, I had no difficulty in telling Japanese stewardesses from their Chinese counterparts. The former always beamed with genuine smile, while the latter often forced a smile, if they smiled at all.
It's not that Confucianism has run out of Chinese blood. I believe Chinese, and most other people on this planet, are born capable of doing good, if not born good.
The pity is that China witnessed two movements in which Confucianism was thrown away: one in the May 4 Movement in 1919 and another in the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976).
Wang Yuanhua (1920-2008), a famous thinker and a former minister of the publicity department of Shanghai, said that for all the merits of the May 4 Movement, it was too radical in denouncing Confucian values.
Radicalism has no place in China today. It's time we embrace Confucianism again - translating the five classics is just a starting point.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)

Editor: Pan Yanan

What does China contribute to the world?

By Wu Jianmin
BEIJING, July 30 -- In my year-end review of situation in 2008, I said, the year 2008 is the most ideal year for China after the Opium War (1840-1942) in term of an upbeat, rising international status and with the fastest expansion of its global impact. Latest developments in the world situation as of early this year show this trend is continuing, China has moved from the fringes to the center of the world stage; the world raises expectation on the country, and the Chinese nation is expanding its cooperation with the rest of the world.
However, we still need conscientiously to pander on such a question, that is, what does China contribute to the world?
First of all, what China is able to contribute tremendously to the world is the viewpoint and concept of the harmonious world.
At the summit on the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations on Sept. 15, 2005, Chinese President Hu Jintao raised the concept on building a harmonious world with long-lasting peace and common prosperity. The proposition on building a harmonious world conforms to the trend of the times and is winning increasing sympathy and support. In its external relations with overseas, China will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, and cooperation, and this is precisely our understanding and also our proposition.
China is rising and its relationships with the rest of the world have undergone historic changes. As a new, emerging big nation, it will unswervingly stay on the road of peaceful development and unflinchingly implement the opening-up strategy of mutual benefit and win-win outcome. So, the path we have followed differs widely with the beaten track of big powers in history, and this also represents the nation's contributions to the world.
Secondly, what China can contribute to the world is its longstanding culture, which is the sole culture around the world that has remained uninterrupted for thousands of years. The world over the past centuries was steered by the Western culture and so the world knows relatively more about it and have a deeper understanding of it.
The Western culture (sometimes equates with Western civilization or European civilization) refers to the culture of European origin. The term "Western culture" is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional religious beliefs and practice.
To date, people worldwide know pretty well the immense contributions done by the Western culture to the world, but any culture is somewhat imperfect with some deficiencies and drawbacks. Hence, in a sense, complex problems of the world in existence have much to do with deficiencies of the Western culture.
The Western culture is based on the civilization of Christianity, in which the good and evils, the beautiful things and ugliness, and legitimism and heterodoxy are diametrically opposed to each other and cannot be reconciled. The world, however, is vivid, colorful and richly-endowed, and it cannot be deemed as simply as either black or white. People in China 2000 years ago set forth an outlook or concept on harmony with differentiations as they came to realize that it was impossible to annihilate diversity but to accept and recognize it and proceed to co-exist with it.
Thirdly, China needs to transmit its concept, proposition and culture to the world, and this requires not only words but concrete deeds as well.
China has introduced whatever it could from overseas: the capital, technology and advanced management methods and concepts and benefited a great deal from them. Otherwise, China could hardly make any great advances. Looking forward to the next three decades, it should "go more overseas". How Chinese citizens and enterprises going overseas continue to implement the win-win strategy and how to disseminate the Chinese culture, and this poses a major topic.
Nevertheless, the process of summarizing and enriching the Chinese culture may call for efforts of several generations. The present-day world will be enabled to see that China's rise has brought the development, progress and prosperity instead of untold sufferings and that China's rise will make the world still more splendid.
Doubtless to say, many Chinese going overseas have done a lot of good, benign things and, however, there are also a few Chinese who have brought disgrace on the Chinese nation, and some of them brought overseas some hideous things in Chinese society today. A Chinese ambassador to an African nation once told me that a couple of Chinese residing Guinea made and sold fake medicine, and their heinous deeds enraged media in the Africa.
A few dregs or scums, blind by the lust for gain, have tarnished the prestige of their country and the harms or consequences they did to their country need more people to retrieve with concrete actions.
Then, what does China contribute to the world? This poses a very great topic that calls for people's in-depth consideration, research and explorations.
(Source: People's Daily Online)

Editor: Xiong Tong

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Xinjiang inspired song, “The Girl from Davanching.”

Xinjiang inspired song, “The Girl from Davanching.”


Do you remember we used to teach our children the "Song of Camel Caravan" and "The Girl from Davaching"? Both are songs composed by Wang Luobin about beautiful Xinjiang.

In 1938, Wang Luobin, a widely respected composer from Beijing, wrote his first Xinjiang-inspired song, “The Girl from Davanching.”
“The soil of the Davanching is hard
But the water melon is sweet
My darling is in Davanching
Qambarhan is so sweet.
Qambarhan’s hair is so long
It touches the ground
My darling Qambarhan,
Please marry me.”
Wang lived in northwestern China for more than 50 years and devoted his time there to composing, collecting and revising ethnic folk songs. As a result, almost everyone in China today can sing a few Xinjiang songs.
The brutal riots of July 5 in Urumqi stand in sharp contrast to the beautiful lyrics of Wang’s songs. The reasons for the riot have been explored by the media, academics, and government reports; everyone agrees that, in the aftermath, the vision of ethnic harmony and unity should be stressed.
But how?
The Chinese government is already implementing plans for regional autonomy.
In Xinjiang, for example, minority people hold more than half of government posts, which are usually hotly contested in China’s competitive job market. About 360,000 government employees in Xinjiang are from ethnic minorities.
The number of middle school bilingual classes (in both Putonghua and Uygur) was 4,500 in 2007, with a total enrollment of 145,000 students, compared with only 27 in 1999, when the figures were first compiled.
But more certainly can be done not just by the government, but by individuals. Over the past three decades, ethnic minorities from China’s poor western regions have been attracted to higher paying jobs in wealthier coastal areas. Guangdong Province, for instance, home to many of China’s thriving factories, has 1.5 million workers from ethnic minorities. Out of respect to those workers, businesses take extra efforts to arrange special canteens, translators, and even praying areas in the workplace.
But now, with the riots in Xinjiang and the financial crisis, are businesses going to continue these extra efforts? To have a positive answer, business owners need to have a bigger vision. So does every citizen of China, no matter which ethnic group they belong to.
For example, in schools where students from different ethnic groups are studying side by side, are they being provided with sufficient opportunities to learn a b o u t each other’s cultures and customs? Or when city dwellers dine at increasingly popular ethnic minority-themed restaurants, will they take a little extra time to learn some language and culture and become more knowledgeable about the enormously rich ethnic cultures in China?
Actions are always needed to support this vision, but particularly now.
The tourism industry plays an important role in promoting understanding between people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang and those from all the rest of China. It also boosts Xinjiang’s economic growth.
Kashgar, for example, a historical town whose population is mostly Uygur, attracts millions of tourists from home and abroad every year. However, the riots are certainly going to exert a negative effect on the city’s tourism, as indicated by the sudden cancellation of tourist visits there. But as life comes back to normal in Xinjiang, we should travel there to show our support for the locals.
Wang Luobin, despite being a Beijinger, was passionately dedicated to Xinjiang culture. He knew that the immensely rich Chinese heritage was not created by any one ethnicity, but by the union of cultures which has made China one of the most diverse and respected civilizations in the world over the period of 5000 years. Now what about you and me?
Tian Wei is the host of “Dialogue” on CCTV's English Channel, and the main anchor of CCTV's special coverage of important domestic and international events. Previously, Tian worked in Washington D.C. as a correspondent, and covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
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