China plans a city-sized monument celebrating traditional Chinese culture and centred on the birthplace of the philosopher Confucius, state media said Sunday.
The "Chinese Culture Symbolic City" in eastern Shandong province will cost at least 4.2 billion dollars and span more than 300 square kilometres (115 square miles), Xinhua news agency quoted those involved in the project as saying.
Project organisers will begin soliciting design proposals for the plan next week but already envision a memorial hall to Confucius and monuments to other memorable Chinese figures from the past.
The monument would also celebrate Chinese technical breakthroughs such as paper-making up to recent successes such as the launch of a lunar probe, Xinhua said.
The plan marks perhaps the most spectacular embodiment of a rebirth in interest in traditional Chinese culture, whose memory Mao Zedong tried to eradicate during his radical political campaigns.
In particular, Confucius's 2,500-year-old teachings of peace and social harmony -- derided by Mao as feudalist -- have come back into vogue as an antidote to the rapid and chaotic development of modern China.
"No culture can survive without the matrix in which it was born," Xu Jialu, a parliament member and project initiator, was quoted as telling a press conference in Beijing.
"The traditional Chinese culture is part of the Chinese people's identity, and we need to bring that back in the face of an increasingly superficial and chaotic world."
The "city" will incorporate the ancient city of Qufu, ancestral home of Confucius, and nearby Zoucheng, home of the later Confucian philosopher Mencius, and a mountain range between them.
China's Confucian revival has been tacitly encouraged by the communist government as a calming influence amid growing public dissatisfaction over China's economic and social growing pains.
Construction is expected to begin by 2010.