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Confucius Draws Tourists to Chinese City of Qufu


The teachings of Confucius guided Chinese society for more than 2,000 years. Confucius fell out favor under communism, but there is renewed interest in his thought in modern China. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Qufu, China, that residents of that city, the hometown of Confucius, hope to benefit from the revival.

Confucian temples throughout China are tourist attractions. Nowhere is interest higher than in Qufu, where one in five people is descended from Confucius.

The city of 600,000 is working to attract its share of China's growing tourism industry. Visitors come to see the old walled city, a place that was once a vibrant center of Chinese culture.

And those with a taste for nightlife can see a gala stage show based loosely on the life and teachings of Confucius.

Through song and dance, the philosopher is remembered as the man who brought a sense of moral order to a divided China.

His ideas about relationships and cultivated leaders influenced society throughout East Asia.

Kong Fanpeng, a lecturer and 74th generation descendant of Confucius, says the story all began here.

"Qufu is Confucius' hometown, the origin of Confucianism, the philosophy system created by Confucius," Fanpeng explained.

He says Qufu draws Chinese and foreign tourists who come to learn about the teacher and his thought.

Daniel Bell, who teaches at Beijing's Tsinghua University, sees renewed interest in Confucius in a resurgent China.

"With the economic rise in China, there's a growing sense of pride and naturally people are more interested in looking at their own traditions," he said.

Confucius has had his ups and downs. He was raised to the status of a god in imperial China. Visitors still pay their respects, making offerings in the historic Confucian temple. They leave written prayers requests for good health or higher grades in school.

Confucius was scorned by the early communists. His grave, and those of his descendants, were vandalized in the Cultural Revolution.

But the sites have been repaired. At Qufu's Confucian Institute, scholars study the thought of the great teacher.

And his story is being told again, with plenty of glitz and glamour, in the city of Qufu, the home town of Confucius.

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