Unlike westerners’ ideological system which is extensively taken to be multi-oriented, China’s (chiefly Mainland China) ideology is vertically complicated but horizontally unsophisticated. If you desire to probe more, please read as follows:
In the Vertical Aspect: Thanks to China’s long-standing history and a multitude of historical events, Chinese ideological system is quite complicated. Since the early time of Chinese history especially in the period of Spring and Autumn, China formed diversity of ideological schools: Confucianism, Taoism, Mohism, Yin-Yang School, Militarism, Legalism, Agriculturist School and Strategist School and so on. That is a tragic time, but that is also a great time. Chinese ideological system mostly appeared at the time. The academic and ideological bloom even dominated the destiny of states. Generally, there were three quite famous ideological centers or academic centers:
1. Jixia Academy(稷下学宫), today in Zibo city of Shandong province
2. Xihe Academy(西河学术中心), today in Kaifeng city of Henan province
3. Xianyang Academy(咸阳学术中心), today in Xianyang city of Shaanxi province
Before Qin’s foundation, the authoritative ideological school was Legalism and Mohism, and Confucianism was not so welcomed actually.
During Qin Dynasty, the dominant ideology was legalism and it became the national ideology for policymaking, and then it historically did a lot of harm to the development of other ideological schools, especially Confucianism. The representatives were Li Si, a premier of Qin Dynasty and initiator of Burning Books and Burying Confucians.
In Han Dynasty, in different time, its dominant ideology was different. In the early period, Taoism widely abided by for economic rehabilitation. During the reign of Emperor Wudi of West Han Dynasty, there was a famous ideological or cultural reformed launched by Dong Zhongshu, who was a famous Confucian at the time. That was, Upholding Confucianism and Weakening Others. Since then, Confucianism was blooming in China. However, it seemed superficially Confucianism was strengthened without reservation, actually, in root, the dominators still maintained the thought of legalism when they administrated the whole country. Academically, experts named it”外儒内法”(Exterior Confucianism and Interior Legalism). Meanwhile, Buddhism as a fresh incomer at the time also influenced China’s ideology a lot when Baima Temple (White-Horse Temple) in Luoyang set up. By the end of Han Dynasty, Taoism initially appeared also as an identity of religion. But the governmental ideology was Confucianism.
In Tang Dynasty, ideology was free and diverse. Generally the main ideologies were Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, though a lot of people believed in Islam and Christianity. The family name of Emperors of Tang Dynasty is Li, which is identical to Lao Zi who was the founder of Taoism. So in the early time, Taoism was highly valued. During Chinese first Empress’ reign, Buddhism was highlighted for her preference. Anyway, Confucianism was still emphasized in different reigns of Tang Dynasty just because the need of administration and nationwide education (Keju has been implemented at the time under the guide of Confucianism). Tang Dynasty, Chinese ideology was largely promoted. But the governmental ideology was Confucianism. The representatives were Wang Wei, boasting The Buddha of Poem; Li Bai, famous as God of Poem; Du Fu, famous as History of Poem.
In Song Dynasty, similar to Tang Dynasty, Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism all developed quickly. What is more important, they all walked up to a new step. Neo-Confucianism, Zen of Buddhism and Different understanding of Taoism all demonstrated the further development of ideology of China. The representatives were Su Dongpo who was a master of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. As for others, a lot of traditional and new parts grew and appeared.
In Yuan Dynasty, different from dynasties mentioned above, was a desperation period, Confucianism was not emphasized as a governmental ideology, and many ideologies were not welcomed at all. But in folk community, all of the declined ideologies were stilled maintained by numerous believers and supporters. In Ming and Qing Dynasty, it was actually the downturn period of Chinese ideology, governmental strict control and supervision nearly threw the obstacle in the way of China’s ideology.
Today, China is experiencing another ideological boom. The overwhelming mainstream is Marxism and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, which are both nationwide believed and supported sincerely. In the meantime, traditional Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Existentialism, Transcendentalism and Universalism and so on are also welcomed.
In the Horizontal Aspect: It is simple, Chinese ideology is comprised of domestic ideologies and inbound ideologies. Chinese domestic ideologies are Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism, Yin-Yang School, Maoism and Others and so on. Inbound ideologies are Christianity, Buddhism, Existentialism and Transcendentalism and so on.
Above all, Chinese ideology is as old as Chinese culture. It is a system making up Chinese spiritual world and enhancing the development of Chinese philosophy.