This is the most interesting thing from China in quite a while, from my perspective.
In a ritual equal only to that of the church, last week China placed a statue of Confucius in its political heart, Tiananmen Square, before Mao Zedong's portrait and near the modern obelisk to the People's Heroes, two symbols that materially defined China's national identity for 60 years.That's certainly right. It also represents a significant retreat from Maoism -- not so far as to repudiate him, but as far as one can go without repudiating him. Whereas the mission of the Maoists was to undo traditional society and radically alter it in new directions, the elevation of Confucius is a restatement of the importance of his teachings as a foundation of Chinese society. If China is now looking for the middle way between radical rejection of the lessons of the past, and adherence to strong traditions with a positive heritage, it is doing something very different from what Mao wanted to do. It is also doing something better.
This is a political statement, not a celebration of art, and it reshapes the country's ideological mission.