01/12/2011, 00.00
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Confucius back in Beijing with a statue in Tiananmen Square

The sculpture is opposite the Mao portrait. It symbolises the regime’s u-turn on Confucian precepts.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An eight-metre bronze statue of Confucius on a 1.6-metre marble base now overlooks the east side of Tiananmen Square. The statue is in front of the north gate of the newly renovated National Museum of China. The sculpture faces Changan Avenue, Beijing’s main thoroughfare, on the opposite side from where the portrait of Mao looks out.

In the past few years, the Chinese government has made a u-turn and rehabilitated Confucius, after purging his teachings during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

The government has recently invested US$ 7.5 million to set up nearly 300 Confucius Institutes in 78 countries to promote the Chinese language and culture.

A rising number of mainland universities have set up Chinese studies institutes with Confucian teachings at their core.

The rediscovery of Confucius represents an attempt to inject more spirituality in society after the age of Communist materialism.

Some also view the revival as part of the authorities’ attempt to strengthen China's "soft power" domestically to counter an invasion of Western culture.

Praising Confucius is also useful in promoting respect for the authorities, one of the fundamental tenets of the old sage.

The Confucius statue in Tiananmen is by Wu Weishan, a 48-year-old artist known for a group of sculptures made for the Nanking Massacre monument, which was completed in 2007.

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