Did the wise men understand the profundity of the words “Instead of flattering ao (奥), it is better to flatter zao (灶)” when they used it as an oracle in the drawing of divination lots? Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai delves into the historical background of the quote from the Analects and what we can learn from it.
While Chaozhou is acknowledged for great food and the hometown of various famous personalities, it is also the lesser-known place of exile of Tang dynasty essayist Han Yu (韩愈), who made the best of his time there, writing essays and spreading Confucian teachings.
While the ruling system in China, carried over from ancient history, has the features of power combined with moral authority, recent events show that change is happening in Chinese politics. With netizens increasingly challenging the central authority openly, refuting official views and commentaries, will there be greater adjustments to Chinese state-society relations?
Despite the CCP’s efforts at arriving at new answers with socialism with Chinese characteristics, fundamental issues since Deng Xiaoping’s time and new issues of this era have not been solved. Maybe it is time to recognise that ideology for party governance may not be the best fit for national governance, says EAI senior research fellow Lance Gore. Instead, what is more effective could be constant innovation and seeking common understanding with the people in adherence with common human values.
Consultant Ma Haotian notes that recent and past cases of celebrities getting banned for various transgressions show that morality in China can be taken to the extreme to exert control over people. He urges moderation and adjusting the so-called rules and standards of behaviour according to the times, so that people can act with more freedom and autonomy.
In urban cities, from Singapore to Beijing to Shanghai, eating alone is increasingly embraced, even if it seems to go against human instinct or some food cultures of communal dining. The pandemic has changed some nuances, but the essence of having a cuppa with yourself, nourishing mind and palate, is here to stay.
The Joko Widodo administration recently announced plans to establish the International State University of Confucianism in Bangka Belitung province. This plan has however been strongly opposed by the local Aliansi Ulama Islam (Islamic Ulama Alliance, or AUI). The success of the plan to establish the university is probably contingent on whether Joko Widodo remains in power. Should a conservative Muslim politician be elected as the next president, it is unlikely that this university will be built.
Because of China’s soft power, some Yunnanese Chinese in Northern Thailand — known as KMT Chinese and who are descendants of KMT supporters who left Yunnan and eventually settled in Northern Thailand — have gradually shifted from being pro-Taipei to being pro-Beijing. Out of the 110 private tutoring Yunnanese schools in Northern Thailand for instance, more than 40 have begun to accept Beijing’s support and modelled their school structure in accordance with PRC’s guidance. How many more converts can China's soft power yield?
East Asian Institute senior research fellow Lance Gore argues that two contexts made Xi’s resurrection of ideological orthodoxy almost inevitable — Leninist party rule and China’s rise on the global stage. But Xi’s return to ideology may be to China’s detriment, as it could reverse achievements of the reform and opening up era, and also set China on a collision course with Western liberal democracies.