I found an interesting article while surfing another forum about China. The article is titled West Confused Over Confucians http://atimes.com/at...a/KI10Ad01.html . In it, there is a discussion about the meaning of the word "Confucian" and how its meaning has changes over time.
Now that it is 2009, does Confucian still mean the same thing -- modernizing technologically while resisting the democratic values of the West?
* Sorry, it seems that I don't know how to "Insert Link" anymore.
Part of the current "official" PRC's political view is that western democracy is not necessarily a bad thing, but China should not undergo a 'full westernization' of adopting western political structure. It has to search for its own unique political path of restoring its pre-eminent position in the world stage that has roots from its Imperial past. The basis for this political view had originated from the demise of China from the time of Opium war (1842) till the end of 1949. During this period of time, China had witnessed great havoc, humiliation and incursion from foreign powers, internal rife, civil war, chaos and Japanese invasion. From 1842 till 1979, China has been 'searching for a way' to save the nation from the great decline and chaos by learning from the west, Japan and Soviet Union. In the end, it found out that none were entirely 100% suitable for China. The Western democracy adopted during the republican period (1911-1949) was inherently a weak system in China, resulting in internal rife, partition between various warlords, internal chaos etc.
During the early 20th century, in the drive of adoption of 'westernization', as part of the May four movement, China began to attack traditional Chinese culture, particularly Confucianism. The view at that time was that traditional Chinese culture held back the progress of China and was fully responsible for the decline of China. As such, China had to be "radically transformed'. It culminated in the Cultural Revolution from 1965-1975 whereby much of the traditional Chinese culture was destroyed.
From 1979 onwards, China opened up itself to the world again and during this time, it had received a large amount of western cultural influence. It suddenly realized that there was a need to 'heal' the damage from the cultural revolution and to restore traditional Chinese culture. Otherwise, it would soon just become another mock-up of western capitalism.
Confucianism is today considered to be 'positive' in China, mainly because it was seen as a key drive to social and political stability. China learned about this from the economic success of some Asian economic powers such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hongkong whereby Confucianism was one key contributing factors to their economic success. More importantly, Confucianism was seen to be an alternative counter-block to 'full westernization' in an age where globalization was the norm.
Also, now that "Confucian" has a different meaning, are contemporary Chinese no longer studying or following the philosophy of Confucius and his followers?
The thing is that "Confucianism" changes with time. While the philosophy of Confucius and his followers formed the foundation for Confucianism, there were new Confucian thoughts being created. If I'm not wrong, PRC now views Confucianism as an important key drive in elevating the ethics and quality of its people.