Controversial Confucius statue vanishes from Tiananmen

Fri Apr 22, 2011 5:13am EDT
 
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BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - A large statue of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, controversially erected outside a Communist Party museum in central Beijing, has quietly been removed from its plinth following an online uproar about its location.

The 9.5-meter (30 foot), 17-tonne statue had pride of place in front of the north gate of the recently renovated National Museum Of China, just off Tiananmen Square and not far from the gaze of Chairman Mao's famous portrait over the Forbidden City.

Some Chinese had complained that it was insulting of the Communist Party to so honor Confucius, having vilified him during the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s and never apologized for it.

Others said the Party had no right to appropriate Confucius and his ideals. Some even said venerating Confucius smacked of the kind of superstition the Communist revolution was supposed to have banished.

The statue, erected in January, has now disappeared and the site surrounded by blue hoardings.

The museum is not saying why the stern-faced carving has gone -- numerous calls seeking comment went unanswered -- but the move has sparked heated debate online, some joking that Confucius had been banished for lacking a Beijing residence permit.

"Maybe Confucius has been taken away by police for suspected economic crimes?" wrote "criminal" on sina.com.cn's popular microblog, in possible reference to a probe into detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

"Is it because he is not a Communist Party member?" wondered "Yongtandiao MT."

But the website maoflag.net, a popular forum for old-school fans of the Communist Party, celebrated Confucius's removal, showing a picture on its front page of the statue with the character "demolish" superimposed on top.   Continued...

 
<p>A security officer (L) tries to prevent a woman from looking through a fence after the removal of the Confucius statue outside the National Museum of China next to Beijing's Tiananmen Square, April 21, 2011. The large statue of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, controversially erected outside the Communist Party museum in central Beijing, has quietly been removed from its plinth following an online uproar about its location. The museum is not saying why the stern-faced carving has gone - numerous calls seeking comment went unanswered - but the move has sparked heated debate online, some joking that Confucius had been banished for lacking a Beijing residence permit. CHINA-CONFUCIUS/ REUTERS/Jason Lee</p>