Dazed and Confucius: Nine common myths about China
“Everything we think we know is wrong: the various China whispers that have warped how we view the country and its people….”
Writing China: Michael Schuman, ‘Confucius and the World He Created’
Chinese President Xi Jinping often cites Confucius in his speeches. Is he, like the old emperors, using the sage to justify authoritarianism?
I believe that is exactly what President Xi is doing. For about two
millennia, the emperors of China had used a form of Confucius’s
teachings to claim they possessed the moral right to rule, even though
they often did not adhere to Confucian principles of government. Now the
Chinese Communist Party is attempting to do the same – use a carefully
crafted version of an undeniably Chinese political tradition to
legitimize its rule while holding off unwanted Western ideals about
human rights and democracy. I also think Xi may be emphasizing Confucian
morality as part of his campaign to clean up corruption and improve the
quality of the civil service.