The Tao of Soft Power

November 9, 2011

After once trying to eradicate Taoism, the Communist Party of China is now seeking to leverage the religion as an instrument of its international “soft power” push.  The official government news outlet China Daily reports that late last month, China promoted a major international conference on Taoism:

In a message to the forum, China’s senior leader Jia Qinglin urged the 500 participants from more than 20 countries, including China, the United States, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Japan, to explore the essence of Taoism and make Chinese culture more attractive in the world.

Jia, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said that the event represented a blessing to the pursuit of prolonged world peace and common prosperity.

“Taoism is important part of Chinese traditional culture as well as valuable properties of human civilization,” said Jia.

“There are many Taoist believers in western countries and a lot of foreign universities and academies have been doing extensive research into Taoism,” said Lin Zhou, deputy president of Chinese Taoist Association.

He said that Taoism is vital to solving modern dilemmas as it suggest people stop wars, live peacefully with nature, avoid extravagant consumption and give up fierce competition.

“Lao Tze said that ‘big country should keep itself in a humble position,’ but in the modern world, a number of powerful countries prefer to use violence to bully weak countries — that is not in accordance with the ‘Way’,” said Ren Farong, president of Chinese Taoist Association.

He added that China has mapped out a strategy this month to reform and develop its culture, and Taoism should be seen as a kind of soft power of the country.

Topics of the forum will cover environmental protection, sustainable development, cross-religious harmony, world peace and the role Taoism could play on solving those issues.


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