Chinese Cultural Diplomacy: Old Wine in New Bottles?

  • Michael Barr
Part of the The Nottingham China Policy Institute series book series (NCP)


One way of considering the stunning transformation China has undergone is to look at the plight of Confucius over the past century. ‘Smash Confucianism’ was a common slogan of the May Fourth Movement, in which Chinese demonstrated against not only foreign powers but also the weakness of its own government which consistently caved in to them. The rationale behind the anti-Confucian movement could be found in the reformers’ iconoclastic drive to rid China from the traditions which were seen as holding it back from modernity. Later, Mao, in his 1940 essay ‘On New Democracy’, made clear his opposition to the ‘worship’ and study of Confucius, a hostility which culminated during the Cultural Revolution in various campaigns to destroy Confucian symbols, criticize ‘old’ cultural institutions, and question figures of authority — a habit forbidden under the Confucian value of filial piety.1


Chinese Communist Party Filial Piety Soft Power Chinese Leadership Chinese Traditional Culture 
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Notes and references

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© Michael Barr 2015

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  • Michael Barr

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