Happy Birthday, Confucius!

September 28th this year is the 2,565th anniversary of Confucius' birth.

Born in 551 BC, Confucius was the most important philosopher in China, who played an important role in the making of the Chinese people. In the modern times, many Chinese denounced Confucius for his conservative views, which they believe prevented China from progressing as quickly as the Western nations. In more recent years, however, many Chinese came to appreciate Confucian teachings once again, seeing how modern development has led to serious social dislocations in their country. The ruling Chinese Communist Party, which severely attacked the Confucian tradition in its revolutionary past, seems to be changing its heart too. This past Thursday, Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the CCP and the President of China, attended and spoke at the opening ceremony of an international conference on Confucianism held in Beijing. In his speech Xi praised Confucius for his contributions to the Chinese nation and expressed his appreciation of traditional Chinese culture. This is quite interesting coming from the leader of a communist revolutionary party that has led the most remarkable capitalist boom in the history of the mankind.

Still, the Chinese government has not fully made up its mind on what to say and what to do about Confucius yet. Confucius' birthday is not an official holiday in mainland China, although September 10th was made the Teachers' Day, which may be viewed as a modest nod to Confucius, who traditionally was remebered as both a great philosopher and a great teacher. In Taiwan, the Teachers' Day does fall on September 28th, the birthday of Confucius. Other East Asian countries and regions, including Japan, South Korea and Singapore, also often organize various events to pay respect to a philosopher whose influence has long spread beyond China's national borders.