CHILDREN sit with straight backs chanting in loud voices from the Dizi Gui, a classic Chinese text about obedience. At the end of class they bow low to an image of Confucius, hands clasped as if in prayer. A statue of the ancient sage watches over the playground, too: “Study the Dizi Gui, be a good Chinese,” reads a red banner. At the Zhengde summer camp in Jinan, in the eastern province of Shandong, children as young as five spend their day reciting verses, learning tai chi and watching cartoons with moral messages. Phones are banned “to prevent contamination of the mind”, says Yi Shugui, the headmaster, a former management consultant. At similar summer schools across China children learn calligraphy, traditional Chinese crafts and how to play ancient instruments. China is undergoing a cultural renaissance, much of it government-sponsored.
For most of its history the Communist Party wanted to smash China’s past, not celebrate it….Continue reading