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China Daily Website

Confucius descendent champions Chinese values in UK

Updated: 2012-03-21 22:57
By Cecily Liu (

"I'm just a human being, but I seem like a superman to other people so I try very hard to be this very special person that everyone is expecting," he says, explaining that he treasures the responsibility that he is born with – spreading Confucian values abroad.

Kong narrates that one day while walking on the streets in London he was suddenly surrounded by three teenagers who demanded money from him. Admitting that one pound was all he had, he witnessed the three boys fight each other over a pound to buy cigarettes.

"I felt sad as I walked away. You just look at the society, and people all around you who are morally lost. They need guidance, and I think many such people can benefit from Confucius teaching."

With such a belief, Kong volunteered to lecture younger students at more than a dozen state-run Southwest London schools when asked to do work-experience by his teacher.

"A lot of kids told me that it change their lives," he said, like a natural-born leader.

"I remember walking into one school, where the children were shouting and misbehaving," he recalled, but his carefully planned lessons soon attracted the children's attention, and one child even helped Kong to discipline his troublesome classmates.

Kong remains modest, "I was 16, so it was easy for them to relate to me, and plus the football cup was on, which gave us more to talk about."

Confucius teachings for Kong are not just stories, but values deeply incorporated into his daily life, from holding the door open for strangers to refusing to make up an excuse for not doing his homework.

"James comes up with many moral ideas without other people telling him," said his half-American half-Irish mother Jeni Kong.

"Sometimes when James catches the taxi back home, the driver tells me 'That's the nicest young man I've ever met' because he is so polite," she said, unable to hide her pride.

Jeni's husband, Kong Weizhong, has seen a few dramatic reversals in his life, having lived through the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) when Confucianism was seen as retrogressive and anti-modern. He was a movie star in Hong Kong, then a fur supplier to Hugo in England, but is now back in Shanghai, running the family's pharmaceuticals business.

With such a happy family, many would infer that Kong had a privileged upbringing, but few realize the physical and emotional endurance he can cope with during adverse times.

Last year an unhappy experience made him injure his back severely. He was carried home by two friends and rested in bed for a few weeks with great pain.

He eventually recovered but his dream of becoming a professional football player was broken forever.

"I've always wanted to be a football player, but now I realized I can't do it," he said with a surprising sense of calm, explaining that he now devotes more time to music with a goal of becoming a professional musician.

Asked if he sometimes thinks back to times before the accident, he shrugged. "If things happen, I don't look back. I just move on," adding that a music career may give him a more flexible schedule, allowing him to devote more time to his charity work - spreading Confucius values in Western societies and making the world a better place.

James Kong

79th direct descendent of Confucius

Born: 1993, London

Education: Harrodian School (A-levels)

Favourite book: Charlie Brown

Favourite film: Harry Potter

Favourite food: Sushi

Hobbies: football, guitar, singing, acting

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