Students studying the Five Classics practice calligraphy at a school in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, on December 2, 2006. (Photo: VCG)
Tsinghua University in 2003 built a Chinese classics research center affiliated with its School of Humanities. Now it has been upgraded into an independent research center at the university, the first such institute in China.
The institute will employ senior teachers and strictly select students who are interested in the field, Peng Lin, the head of the institute, told the audience at the opening ceremony of the institute on September 19, thepaper.cn reported.
Peng said the institute will better pass down and spread Chinese classics with the support of the research resources at Tsinghua University, and develop the university into an important venue for Chinese classics studies in China.
Experts said that the country's first institute of Chinese classics studies will help nurture talent and help Chinese traditional culture, which was denounced half a century ago, flourish.
The establishment of the institute marks Chinese classics becoming an independent discipline, Deng Liguang, the director at the Schools of Chinese Studies with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said during the opening ceremony.
The Chinese classics are the core of Confucianism, which have epitomized the essence of Chinese history for more than 2,000 years, Yao Zhongqiu, a professor at Beihang University and a Confucian scholar, told the Global Times.
The research focus of the institute is the Five Classics — the Classics of Poetry, Book of Documents, Book of Rites, Book of Changes and Spring and Autumn Annals.
After the Opium War in the mid-19th century, China followed the West and established universities, with no regard to China's own cultural features. This drove the study of the Chinese classics out of the university system, Peng said.
Even now Chinese Confucian classics studies are not offered in Chinese universities.
After the reform and opening up policy in the late 1970s, respect for traditional Chinese culture has been restored, and Confucius Institutes have become a feature of the Chinese culture spreading around the world, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
To make Chinese classics flourish, Yao suggested that the Chinese government could encourage more young students and researchers to roll out favorable policies. He suggested foreign students coming to China could also be taught the Chinese classics in universities alongside their own major.
About 490,000 foreigners from 204 countries and regions studied in China in 2017, more than any other country in Asia, Xinhua reported, citing the Ministry of Education.
"Only by learning the Chinese classics can foreign students acquire real Chinese values and gain a sense of the philosophy."
Yao added that China's foreign policy of building a community of shared future for mankind follows Confucian principles.
Beacon for a better life
On September 11, the Party committee of Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, issued the country's first measures at a city level to promote Chinese traditional culture.
The measures include research of local history, ancient documents of family instructions, and classic books, the Zhongshan Sinology Promotion Association reported on its official WeChat account.
Tang Wenming, a professor at the Department of Philosophy with Tsinghua University, said the promotion of Confucian classics could offer the public a sense of how to behave and build a harmonious lifestyle.
The teachings could combat the uncivilized phenomenon that are occasionally seen in Chinese society, Tang told the Global Times.
For example, in August, a man pretended to be disabled to occupy another passenger's window seat on a train.
In July a brewing scandal over violations of drug production regulations by one of China's largest vaccine manufacturers sparked nationwide outrage.
Tang suggested that such scandals would become less frequent if study of the Chinese classics became more common.