Confucius quotes mooted for banknotes

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 February, 2012, 12:00am


Maverick mainland philanthropist Chen Guangbiao is back in the headlines after proposing that public morale could be improved by the introduction of new banknotes bearing famous quotes from ancient philosophers such as Confucius.

Chen, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told media outlets yesterday that he would present his proposal to the CPPCC's annual meeting in Beijing next month in an effort to promote traditional Chinese values and morality as well as environmental awareness.

He said he was keen to see smaller denomination banknotes printed with classic Chinese quotes promoting patriotism, social harmony and environmental awareness because they were widely circulated.

Chen, a recycling billionaire who heads Jiangsu Huangpu Renewable Resources, said one quote from the I Ching or Book of Changes that he had suggested was: 'A family that accumulates good deeds will have abundant blessings; a family that accumulates misdeeds will be met with calamity.'

He said another favourite was a dialogue between Confucius and one of his disciples in which the disciple asked: 'Is there one word which may guide one in practice throughout the whole of life?' Confucius replied: 'The word reciprocity is perhaps the word. What you do not wish others to do unto you, do not do unto them.'

Chen, 42, is one of only a few mainland tycoons to follow an appeal from American philanthropist Warren Buffett and declare that all his money will go to charity after he dies. Brushing aside criticism of his high-profile charity drives on the mainland, Chen delivered NT$500 million (HK$131.6 million) to the poor in Taiwan last year.

Some critics have dismissed his banknotes proposal as just another wacky idea from a CPPCC member.

Yang Tao, a media critic from Guangdong, said the mainland did not need banknotes quoting ancient sages to raise public morale when the bigger concern was a general lack of civil society spirit.

He said the mainland would be better off if banknotes were printed with slogans such as 'right to information, right to supervision and right to participation in political decision-making' - all thing promised by the authorities.

Yang said that while it was fine to raise such a suggestion in the media, it would be a waste of time to discuss it at the annual meeting of the CPPCC, when members were supposed to be advising the government on areas such as public spending and the rule of law.