It’s hard to imagine that a statue of man born around 2,500 years ago could provoke controversy. But evidently Confucius can. The philosophical sage dominated Chinese ideology for thousands of years, but became persona non grata during Mao Zedong’s period in power. That’s why it was so significant when a 31 foot statue of him was unveiled in Tiananmen Square in January (see WiC 91, Photo of the Week). Equally so, that it disappeared from that location last week – spirited away at night. No big deal says state media which added that the statue was always intended for a more secluded courtyard in the National Museum of China. However, others think it reflects a broader tussle behind the scenes in the Communist Party ahead of next year’s leadership changes. Neo-Maoists call Confucius a “witch doctor”, reports The Economist and are clearly flexing their muscles. This can be interpreted as their victory over reformist types who’d praised last year’s movie biopic about Confucius and welcomed a revival of the moral values he stood for. Yet again, only Mao’s giant image remains in Tiananmen Square (unchallenged).
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