10/23/2015, 00.00
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For Wang Qishan, Confucius can help tackle corruption

by Wang Zhicheng
The head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China praises the traditional virtues of China’s ancient culture, which inspired the Party’s new rules. The vacuum in ideals must be filled or the party will lose power. For Confucius, both love and scorn.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The anti-corruption campaign launched more than two years ago by President Xi Jinping to cleanse the Communist Party from evil has a new ally: traditional Confucian virtues once reviled during the Cultural Revolution.

Writing in the party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, Wang Qishan, who is in charge of battling corruption, said the source of the party’s rules on tackling this problem were the ideals and virtues passed down through history.

In several speeches, President Xi “cited a great number of ancient texts and words from the classics, stressing and lauding the fine traditional culture of the Chinese people which has meaning in the new era,” Wang wrote.

Wang’s editorial tries to show that the anti-corruption campaign, which is creating many enemies for Xi Jinping, has the same root as the great virtues of the past. In traditional culture, he notes, morality and law were one and the rules were observed as rituals.

Wang does not explicitly cite Confucius, but it is clear that the "traditional values" he has in mind – humanity, justice (or righteousness), rituals, knowledge, integrity, accompanied by loyalty and soberness – are all virtues that Confucius praised and expected in a harmonious society.

On the issue of soberness and integrity, the CCP yesterday announced new disciplinary rules against wasteful and unethical behaviour like gluttony, golf, sexual misconduct, or criticism of Party members or policies.

Yet, the anti-corruption drive has failed so far. In fact, as a Zhejiang Party member indicated to AsiaNews, "Banquets continue but in secret; and bribes are paid but on foreign accounts or through credit vouchers redeemable at stores selling luxury cars, and electronics, or even at supermarkets”.

Xi Jinping and Wang Qishan often stress that the fight against corruption was the only way to restore the party’s credibility and that if that fails, it will “shake the party’s basis for governing”.

For some analysts, the party crisis reflects a broader religious crisis in Chinese society. This might explain why the party is now turning to Confucius and the country’s old traditions after fighting them for so long.

After Mao Zedong came to power, in particular during the Cultural Revolution, the temples dedicated to Confucius and Confucian figures were condemned as an "instrument of slavery," and partially destroyed.

Even today, Confucius remains a controversial figure within the Party. In 2011, a tall statue of Confucius was erected in front of the National Museum of China in Tiananmen Square (pictured), in the heart of Beijing. But within month, it inexplicably disappeared.

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