4. How would people construe "Ren", one of the core values of Confucianism?
I don't think it refers to benevolence that some (senior) translators tried to intrepret, but "empathy".
Here's the definition of "empathy" from Wikipedia.
Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another's position. There are many definitions for empathy that encompass a broad range of emotional states. Types of empathy include cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and somatic empathy.
And in a book named "Mencius", a King felt ashame of telling Mencius that his favourite music was (Chinese) pop rather than the classic which was promoted among the upper class then. Mencius approved and commented that he pop was great, as a king should enjoy the music with the majority of his subjects together, instead of listening to alone. And such empathy should be applied to the politics as well when it came to how to govern a country.
Thus, I think "empathy" is more inclusive than "benevolence", and it should be the equivant of "ren" in Chinese. If a leader is in the same wavelength with his/her own people, naturally s/he is able to extend to benevolence to other people, otherwise "benevolence" is just hot air.
A few days ago, I read a thread on which the journalist / the OP was soliciting the questions about what people concern most, if we could have met with the Premier during his press conference.
I thought to myself, "How insensitive the question is". If the government doesn't truly understand what people most concern about, how would the officials be supposed to be worth of their salt?