Chinese toon draws on philosopher

$5.3 million Confucius series in the works

BEJIING — There’s nothing looney about these toons.

Two Chinese media firms have signed a deal with the Confucius Foundation to make a $5.3 million cartoon series on the legendary philosopher’s life and teachings.

Shandong Radio and TV, based in the eastern Shandong Province; and Shenzhen Phoenix Star, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-listed Phoenix Satellite TV, will jointly produce the cartoon on the philosopher’s life and lectures. There will be 100 episodes, each lasting 13 minutes.

“The cartoon aims to make Confucius and his philosophy well known and better understood in a form with popular appeal,” a spokesman for the Chinese Confucius Foundation told the Xinhua news agency.

Confucius, the respectful name for the great thinker, philosopher, statesman and educator called Kongqiu, who lived from 551-479 BC, is undergoing a major revival in China these days.

Confucian philosophy, which dominated Chinese society for centuries, and spread to the West in the late 16th century, advocates achieving harmony through self-refinement in manners and taste.

The project is expected to be finalized by September, and the series is tapped to be aired in 2009, the 2,560th anniversary of Confucius’ birth, the spokesman says.

Scholars and, increasingly, the Communist Party, believe following sound Confucian principles is conducive to building a “harmonious society,” to which President Hu Jintao constantly refers.

Last year, in order to settle the debate about what the ancient philosopher looked like, the China Confucius Foundation (CCF) published a standard image of him — as an old man with a long beard, broad mouth and big ears, wearing a robe with his hands crossed on his chest.

And for anyone who thinks toons are too juvenile for the man known as the Master, you just need to check out his views on youthful pursuits in the Analects of Confucius: “A youth is to be regarded with respect. How do we know that his future will not be equal to our present?”

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