May 14, 2007

Curious in China

Roger Simon expresses some wonder at the notion that "the Chinese themselves 'religiously' guard against" the image of Mao Tse-Tung being defaced. I suspect that while the government's position is that the Chinese people religiously guard against it, the people themselves have rather different interests:

"Notes on reading the Analects," by Beijing Normal University professor Yu Dan, has become China's best-selling book in recent memory, defying critics who say it turns Confucian thought into self-help pulp for the modern age.

"It is good to have these teachings from old times because people are too selfish now," 60-year-old accountant Qu Juan said of the book that has sold over 3 million copies in four months. "Everybody cares only about making money after the economic reforms," she said, flipping through the softback at a book shop.

Yu first shot to fame in October when she went on state TV to lecture on the Analects, a canon of Confucianism recording discussions between the ancient Chinese sage Confucius (551-479 BC) and his disciples. She wrote the book based on the TV transcripts.

Her mass following tells of deep anxiety about morality and beliefs in a society that has gone through a disorienting transformation in recent decades, analysts said.

"We were taught Marxism and Leninism in schools," said Tian Na, a 25-year-old teacher who bought the book on the Internet.

"But when I became independent and went to college, I saw professors take bribes and I felt the old slogans like 'serve the people' were no longer relevant," she said.

I'd bet most Chinese would rather have a giant portrait (one would be necessary) of Yao than Mao...

Posted by Ideofact at May 14, 2007 12:42 AM