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March 25, 2017

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Taking Confucius out of Taiwan is a fool's game

China is the world's first and only continuing civilization, one reason being what Etienne Balazs has called "officialism." Its most conspicuous sign is the uninterrupted continuity of a ruling class of scholar officials steeped in Confucian classics. The civil service examination system produces them. Moreover, Confucianism had taught work ethic, tens of centuries before the Calvinistic Protestant ethic was introduced to the West.

On the other hand, Confucianism has been under question in China since China began modernizing.

One slogan of the May Fourth Movement of 1919 is "Down with the Shop of Confucius' (打倒孔家店)."

Young scholars and students believed Confucianism so weakened China as to become the hypokolonie or semi-colony (次植民地) of the world powers.

Incidentally, the Communist Party of China was created, as a result.

Mao Zedong started "criticizing Confucius and eulogizing the First Emperor of Qin (批孔揚秦)" when he released his Red Guards in 1966 to retake the helm of the ship of state from Liu Shaoqi.

Mao's groupies ransacked Confucian temples, but Confucianism wasn't rooted out, just as the May Fourth students miserably failed to dethrone the Great Sage of China.

In Taiwan, President Chen Shui-bian kicked off a de-Confucianization movement, while he was in office as part of his de-Sinicization policy.

He had the birthday of Confucius abolished as the public holiday of Teachers' Day.

Ma Ying-jeou, who succeeded Chen as president, did not restore the national holiday, though he attended the birthday ceremonies of the Sage every year. Then, President Tsai Ing-wen made the day a national holiday for the workers but not for the teachers, a starter for the resumption by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of Chen's de-Sinicization campaign.

Lin Chia-lung, mayor of Taichung, has condemned the Kuomintang for restoring the original Confucian temple which had been dismantled by the Japanese colonial government to make room for a Shinto shrine.

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