BEIJING (Reuters) - A new, official and smiling image of Confucius has sparked philosophical debate in China over whether it is needed and whether or not it looks anything like him.
Critics say the image, commissioned by the China Confucius Foundation and unveiled in a bronze statue at the weekend, is unabashed commercialism and that there is no way to tell if it bears any resemblance to the philosopher, who was born in 551 BC.
Designers of the statue say that doesn't matter.
"What matters is his founding of Confucianism，which features harmony and peace and constitutes the essence of Chinese culture," Xinhua news agency on Monday quoted Zhang Shuhua, secretary-general of the foundation, as saying.
The 225-cm (88-inch) bronze statue depicts Confucius as a kind, old man with a square face, long beard, broad mouth and thick brows. He wears a Chinese-style robe and his hands are crossed on his chest.
The designers referred to the most recognisable portrait of Confucius that dates back at least 1,100 years, Xinhua said.