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DNA test to clear up Confucius confusion

Chinese citizens can now get a simple DNA test to see if they have a direct blood connection to Confucius, the fifth-century BC social philosopher.
/ Source: Reuters

Chinese claiming Confucius for an ancestor can now use a genetic test to prove a direct blood connection to the grandfather of Chinese social mores, a state newspaper said on Friday.

How the scientists had obtained a sample of Confucius’s DNA was not explained.

The fifth-century BC social philosopher’s ideas of filial piety and deference to elders influence Chinese society and politics even today.

Now his countrymen can establish a genetic link in a test that will cost more than 1,000 yuan, about $125, according to the Shanghai Morning Post.

“We would like to help these unconfirmed claimants to test their DNA and to establish a Confucius-DNA database,” it quoted Deng Yajun, a DNA expert from Beijing Institute of Genomics at the Chinese Academy of Science, as saying.

“One of the most difficult things in the project is to confirm the blood connections of these numerous claimants,” said Kong Dewei, one of the editors of the new family tree, who has the same Chinese surname of Confucius, “Kong” in Chinese.

Association with Confucianism was fatal during the tumult of the Cultural Revolution, when “old China” and its traditions were condemned as reactionary by fervent Communist Red Guards.

But since the 1990s, Beijing has been encouraging Confucianism as part of celebrating traditional Chinese culture — and of pushing a message of obedience to those in power.