The Rights and Freedoms on the Christian Cross, Part 2: What Is the Significance of Zhejiang Province?

Editor’s note: This is the second post of a three-part series discussing the situation of the church in China over the developments of the past year. To read the first post of the series, visit The Rights and Freedoms on the Christian Cross, Part 1: A Reflection on the Recent Demolition of Christian Crosses in China. We encourage readers to consider this series in conjunction with the recently published 95 Theses: The Reaffirmation of Our Stance on the House Church as it helps provide context concerning the response of the Chinese house church to current political campaigns.

2. Why is this happening in the province of Zhejiang? Is there any significance?

In a society that is rule-by-law (or rather, rule-of/by-man), this series of events happening in Zhejiang has a huge subjective aspect both individually and politically. But no matter the reasons, even for a rule-of-man society, when comparing the government’s past laissez-faire to the current recklessness, and when we see the randomness and inconsistency (even disruption) of its own policies, these are all very shocking. There are many rumors and guesses on the streets, but the real motivations for this series of events are unknowable. But, from the perspective of how modern China is seeking to transition itself, the real reason and motivation may very likely be chance, and it may even be unimportant. What is really unique is that this series of events has brought out some special characteristics of the government vs. citizen’s standoff. From the perspective of history, there are two sets of reasons or factors that have made the ground fertile in a manner different from the past, and these are worthy of in-depth analysis.

First, the region of Zhejiang, especially the city of Wenzhou, was once a place where Christianity was growing the fastest, and was the most liberal place where a Christian’s faith could be externally and culturally expressed. Many Three-Self and House churches could have their own church buildings, and put crosses on top of them; therefore, there are plenty of crosses for them to demolish. If this event had happened in Beijing, another one of the cities where Christianity has been growing the fastest in the last twenty years, I’m afraid the incident would have been long over by now, because in Beijing there are only a few Three-Self churches, and most House churches not only do not own any crosses for them to demolish, but they don’t even have their own church property.

The fact that there are many crosses for the government to tear down was a result of considerable freedom once enjoyed in terms of external and cultural expressions of faith, and a result of the government’s long-time laissez-faire policies. This rendered the churches free to prosper, forming a deep and firm social foundation, and hence creating the hope that the government and its people can have mutual interactions in this way. Although in the past year or so, the forced demolitions have shaken the foundation for such hope of interaction between the government and its citizens, from the long-term perspective, the nature of uncertainty and lack of continuity inherent in a rule-of-man society will inevitably result in changes in policies due to the changes in  leadership. Therefore, what the church has accumulated as its foundation for the last twenty to thirty years will not be shaken by one administration’s demolitions.

Second, over the last twenty to thirty years of China’s open and reformed economy, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, is the region that has benefitted the most from the vibrant growth of small and medium businesses. From the anti-demolition messages we see on the internet, we can tell that because of the encouragement of their economic freedom and private property, the people in this region have a comparatively higher awareness of autonomy and individual rights. In the conflicts between the government and its citizens, the illegal and tyrannical actions of the government are a strong contrast to the people’s expression of rationality and political hopes, underscoring the distance between both sides’ expectations of models of political administration.

It is obvious that the citizens are already equipped with some basic, modern political understanding and presuppositions about the boundaries between public power and the personal sphere, and have these as proper reasons for them to defend their personal rights. As these events continue to ferment and escalate, in reality it has further fueled and deepened this understanding amongst the people. The resulting effects may be totally against what the government has hoped to achieve, because once popularized and deepened, this type of consciousness of personal rights will be much harder to take out of the shared lives of the people, and the effects of this consequence will be long-term. Even if the government has won short-term success, in reality, what it has done is actually cause citizens and society to be more educated.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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Nanjing: A Welcoming City of Newcomers
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Nanjing: A Relational Gospel
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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