Confucius Institutes

The debate.

An anecdotal moment from Jeffrey Wasserstrom:

Some time ago, I found out, but not until just before giving a talk, that the local CI was my visit’s sponsor. I was annoyed and tweaked my planned lecture to show it. In my new opening, I said that since a CI was sponsoring the event, a few words on Confucius were in order. I found it odd, I said, that China’s ruling party had excoriated Confucius when Mao Zedong headed the country, yet now named institutes in his honor. The official line on history was still that Mao was better than his anti-Communist rival Chiang Kai-shek, I continued, but the present veneration of Confucius as a national saint fit better with Chiang’s worldview than with Mao’s.

Was the Beijing-appointed head of the CI outraged? No, she wasn’t even miffed. She said she loved the talk and I’d be welcome to come back and speak again any time.

(An anecdote is only an anecdote, and might not be worth that much, but a casual presumption is worth less.)

2 thoughts on “Confucius Institutes

  1. Sounds like they are furtively abandoning the claim to be legitimate because the vanguard of the proletariat, a claim transparently false, and instead claiming the mandate of heaven – that those who have power are entitled to keep it provided they do not screw up too badly.,

    • That has to be the trend, although I expect it be advanced cautiously, and with a tolerance for decorative ideological ritual (‘face’) that Westerners find hard to understand. Mao’s portrait is going to overlook Tiananmen Square for far longer than makes sense to a foreign audience expecting hasty gestures of public political sincerity. The Mandate of Heaven is the truth, but only an indecorous barbarian would make a crude fetish out of that. (Truth is too valuable to be paraded, in vulgar fashion, through the streets.)

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