Nachdem ausführlicher über die Wiederbelebung eines traditionellen Tempels für einen "Schwarzen Drachen" berichtet worden ist, werden auch Sekten, die großen Weltreligionen, die traditionelle Ahnenverehrung und die Wiederbelebung konfuzianischer Studien thematisiert. Die wichtigeren Abschnitte des Artikels lauten:
... Within the party, however, debate is growing about whether it should take a different approach to religion. (...) It could mean (...) showing stronger support for faiths that have deep historical roots among the ethnic Han majority. The party is acutely aware that its own ideology holds little attraction for most ordinary people. (...)
Pan Yue, then a senior official dealing with economic reforms and now deputy director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, argued in an article published in 2001 that the party's traditional view of religion was wrong. Marx, he said, did not mean to imply that religion was a bad thing when he referred to it as the opium of the people. Religion, he said, could just as easily exist in socialist societies as it does in capitalist ones. He also singled out Buddhism and Taoism for having helped to bolster social stability through successive Chinese dynasties. Stability being of paramount concern to the party today, Mr Pan's message was clear.
In praise of harmony
His article angered party conservatives at the time: the party's official stance is that religion will die out under socialism. But more recently the party itself has begun to put a more positive spin on the role of religion. Last April China organised a meeting of Buddhist leaders from around the world in the coastal province of Zhejiang (it did not, however, invite the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader). The event was given considerable prominence in the official media. The theme, “A harmonious world begins in the mind”, echoed the party's recent propaganda drive concerning the need for a “harmonious society”. It implied just what Mr Pan had suggested— that the opium Marx was talking about should be seen as a benign spiritual salve. In October the party's Central Committee issued a document on how to build a harmonious society, arguing that religion could play a “positive role”.
The party's change of tone coincides with its recent efforts to revive traditional culture as a way of giving China, in its state of rapid economic and social flux, a bit more cohesion. The term “harmonious society”, which in recent months has become a party mantra, sounds in Chinese (hexie shehui) like an allusion to classical notions of social order in which people do not challenge their role in life and treat each other kindly. It is, in effect, a rejection of the Marxist notion of class struggle.
Officials are now encouraging a revival of the study of Confucianism, a philosophy condemned by Mao as “feudal” and which can be quasi-religious. Since 2004 China has sponsored dozens of “Confucius Institutes” around the world, including America and Europe, to promote the study of Chinese language and culture.In the countryside the revival of traditional values has needed little encouragement. Clan shrines, where ancestors are worshipped, have sprung up in many rural areas, particularly in prosperous coastal and southern regions. The revival of clan identity (in many villages a substantial minority, if not a majority, of inhabitants have the same surname, which they trace back to a common ancestor) has had a profound impact on village politics. Those elected as village leader often owe much of their authority to a senior position in the clan hierarchy. Control of the ancestral shrine confers enormous power. It is often clan chiefs, rather than party officials, who mediate disputes. The shrine will lend money for business ventures—so long as the recipient has the right name.
Während die Beziehungen zum Vatikan in Rom prekär bleiben, wie ausgeführt wird, scheint die chinesische Führung derzeit eher geneigt, sich dem Dalai Lama anzunähern:
An even more tentative rapprochement is under way with the Dalai Lama. Since 2002, China has held five rounds of talks with his representatives, most recently last February. But China retains profound fears that the Dalai Lama's real intention is to separate Tibet, and adjoining areas, from China (see article). Notwithstanding the government's suspicions, Tibetan Buddhism has acquired a certain chic in Chinese cities in recent years, with some urbanites regarding it as spiritually more pure than Chinese-style Buddhism, which has strong links to the government.
Hier bahnen sich Entwicklungen an, die künftig noch von größerer Bedeutung werden könnten. Denn das Gewicht Chinas in der Weltgeschichte wächst ja derzeit ganz enorm.