<i>China celebrates Confucius birth for first time </i>
Beijing yesterday celebrated the anniversary of the birth of ancient philosopher Confucius for the first time since the founding of communist China, in a ceremony that included delegates from Taiwan.
The event took place at the Confucius temple in the city's historic Guozijian quarter in honour of China's most famous philosopher, born in 551 BC, whose influence is on the rise again after being suppressed under Mao Zedong.
Long banned by the communist regime, which considered Confucianism a feudal belief, this tradition was only officially reinstated in the 1990s in Qufu, birthplace of the Chinese thinker -- but never in Beijing.
The ceremony -- placed under high security and closed to the public but not to reporters -- included Chinese officials alongside a delegation from Taiwan, once China's bitter foe, where Confucianism has always been celebrated.
China and Taiwan split in 1949 and Beijing considers the self-ruled island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. But ties between the two have improved in recent years.