Xi Jinping hopes traditional faiths can fill moral void in China: sources

Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:30pm EDT
 
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By Benjamin Kang Lim and Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) - President Xi Jinping believes China is losing its moral compass and he wants the ruling Communist Party to be more tolerant of traditional faiths in the hope these will help fill a vacuum created by the country's breakneck growth and rush to get rich, sources said.

Xi, who grew up in Mao's puritan China, is troubled by what he sees as the country's moral decline and obsession with money, said three independent sources with ties to the leadership.

He hopes China's "traditional cultures" or faiths - Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism - will help fill a void that has allowed corruption to flourish, the sources said.

Skeptics see it as a cynical move to try to curb rising social unrest and perpetuate one-party rule.

During the early years under Communism, China's crime rate was low and corruption rare. By contrast, between 2008 and 2012 about 143,000 government officials - or an average of 78 a day - were convicted of graft or dereliction of duty, according to a Supreme Court report to parliament in March.

Xi intensified an anti-corruption campaign when he became party and military chief in November, but experts say only deep and difficult political reforms will make a difference.

Meanwhile, barely a day goes by without soul-searching on the Internet over what some see as a moral numbness in China - whether it's over graft, the rampant sale of adulterated food or incidents such as when a woman gouged out the eyes of her six-year-old nephew this month for unknown reasons.

"Xi understands that the anti-corruption (drive) can only cure symptoms and that reform of the political system and faiths are needed to cure the disease of corruption," one of the sources told Reuters, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions for discussing elite politics.   Continued...

 
Worshippers burn incense to pray for wealth on the fifth day of Chinese Lunar New Year, which is believed to be the day for welcoming the God of Wealth into households, at the Guiyuan Buddhist Temple in Wuhan, Hubei province in this February 14, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Darley Shen/Files