Tafero Lesson Plan of the Day - The Effect of Confucianism on 21st Century China
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Tafero Lesson Plan of the Day - The Effect of Confucianism on 21st Century China

This is a lesson plan outline for the Effect of Confucianism on 21st Century China. This short overview list looks at the effects on modern China.

The Effect of Confucianism on 21st Century Chinese Society

What are some of the long-term effects of Confucianism on Chinese society? How does the most single influential variable of Chinese society affect its behavior in the 21st Century and beyond? These are complex questions that require complex analysis and answers and cannot be answered in a short, breezy article on Chinese society. However, in the interest of brevity and for the sake of a beginner’s overview of how Confucianism affects Chinese society, I will attempt to highlight some of the more obvious ramifications of Confucianism as it pertains to modern Chinese society:

1. Filial Piety – The number one concept of Confucianism is duty to your family, your emperor and to yourself. The father is the unquestioned head of the family and his word is law. All family members follow his wishes immediately, just as the father follows the will of the emperor immediately. Your wishes as an individual come in a distant third place to the first two of the emperor and the father. Your duty to yourself is merely an extension of your duty to your family. You will, before marriage, be dutiful to your family first, and then after marriage, be dutiful to your own family first. These traditions are now 2600 years old and counting and are deeply ingrained in every Han Chinese family. The emperor has been replaced by the CCP, but everything else has remained the same. Because of this structure, Han society within China is able to move as one in most economic and political issues and is not divided as is the West, by political and religious factions.

2. Philosophical Belief System – The philosophical belief system of modern Chinese society is strictly rooted in three primary areas: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. As religious practitioners go, China is among the least zealous when it comes to religious practices. The Islamic Chinese are the least rebellious Islamic people of any country with a major Islamic population. Only rarely do religious issues pop up among this minority within China. The same can be said of the Buddhist practitioners within China. Outside of Tibet, Buddhism is practiced and tolerated in practically every area of China without major incident. Generally speaking though, it is the Confucian tradition that dominates these and any other religions in China, thereby making China a major non-sectarian state.

3. Political Belief System – Confucianism fits in quite well with modern Chinese communism and the one-party system that is so effective in reacting to both political and economic problems confronting the country. There is no political or economic turmoil and debate over issues other than within internal liberal and conservative elements of the CCP. This unity of action cuts down on reaction time to critical economic issues, such as the Global Financial Crisis, rising inflation and rising real estate markets. Unlike Western countries that flounder between two or more political parties, China is able to make clear and concise choices and act on them quickly. That being said, democracy is still attractive to most of the world and elements within China. A future synthesis of modified democracy and one-party rule may take place at some point in time.

4. Law – There is very little law in China. There are few courts, judges, lawyers and law enforcement officials in comparison to the enormous populations and areas of the country. For example, there is no enforcement of intellectual property rights in China even though the law is actually on the books. This is not due to CCP policy, it is due to the small number of law enforcement officials within the country. These and other areas of law enforcement are currently being augmented in China. Another example is traffic violations. Chinese go as fast as they want, change lanes without signaling, run red lights and negotiate every corner of Chinese cities without stop signs. Somehow, in this organized chaos, there is a certain compliance to unwritten laws. The largest vehicle has the right of way and if you have a space, you are entitled to grab it. Violence in China is at a far lower rate than in all other Western (and Eastern) countries. This is primarily due to the fact that guns are outlawed (this law is enforced heavily). No guns, much less violent crime. It is not rocket science. Violent lawbreakers are vigorously pursued and prosecuted without any hope of parole because the greatest law they have broken is the Confucian Tradition.

5. Economic Competition – I can’t think of a more open economic competition than the ones practiced in China. It is practically the Wild West here. If you have a small bit of money and an idea, you start a business. There are over 20,000,000 of them in China, which means statistically that at least one Chinese in sixty has his or her own business. This is a far more capitalistic society than Western societies that are more concerned with getting jobs than owning businesses. Time Magazine made a note of this in one of their issues on the Chinese worker when they almost made the workers of China Man of the Year. There is a reason that the Chinese GDP has been plus 10% or higher over the last decade or so. The bottom line is that the West can no longer compete with China in many economic areas and that China has an enormous capital surplus to spend, while the rest of the wasteful Western world wallows in their remembrances of the good-old days and tries to rescue all the political pork barrels within each country that is leading them to financial ruin. There is nothing in Confucianism that prohibits the making of profits.

These are but a few of the effects of Confucianism on 21st Century China. There are many other variables, but these are the primary ones that I have observed.

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