China in Transition, Part 3: We Have to Press Hard

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Editor’s note: Yang Mingdao is the collective pseudonym for Chinese voices within China Partnership. This series is from a talk given by a Chinese theological teacher and trainer at a recent gathering of those interested in China. It has been edited from transcriptions of the original talk. You can click these links to read part 1 and part 2 of this series. 


These restrictions do have some impact on Christian groups. In China, there is a social network called WeChat, which is how most people connect. There are many groups with many churches through WeChat. But it is highly monitored, and we cannot say really sensitive things. Many people also used WhatsApp [an encrypted messaging service] a lot. Recently the Chinese government has shut down access to WhatsApp. After they shut it down, it has been very hard; communication between  pastors in the country has been slow. There has been a communication breakdown and the church is  trying to recover.

In some ways, recent political events, in particular the election of the top leadership group of the Chinese Communist Party, have been surprising. We believed things were getting worse because the government had made a new regulation to control religion. We expected this new regulation would take effect early in 2017. But that didn’t happen. The government instead took a whole year to solicit input and revise the regulation, and announced in August that the new regulations would take effect on Februrary 1, 2018.

Everybody, especially those in the church context, thought religious control would be tightened. All of society expected that as well: the media is controlled, the Internet is controlled, and the new regulations for churches are about to take effect. Many people in the church expected 2018 to be worse, with more persecution, because many signs pointed that way. I expected that, and as I read the first several days of reports on the convention, that feeling remained very strong.

However, when the seven leaders were named at the end of the convention, it was surprising. If a leader was in very strong control, he would be expected to bring in people who are his puppets, or who are in his camp. But two of the leaders are very open to liberalism, and one is quite neutral. Three of the seven are not in Xi’s small circle. The prime minister, Li KeQiang, has also never been in his circle; Li and Xi are from different parties. Out of seven, you have three or four who are either quite liberal or who are prone to liberalism. Even though Xi, the so-called emperor, has power and has been acknowledged as the leader within the party for another five years, it’s not a one-person-controlled top leadership. There are different sects with different interests within the big party, which results in a more balanced and compromise-driven negotiation of results.

Before the leadership group was named, many people thought Xi might have three terms as president and break the two-term norm. After the group was named, people began to think: “Maybe it will only be two terms. Who knows?” This result shows there is still some internal discord. It is not just one man’s voice, it is not a one-man show. There are still other, powerful parties within the Party.

Another interesting reason why recent outcomes are better than expected is because, in the past two or three years, crosses in all of Zhejiang province have been torn down, especially in Wenzhou. The government also installed surveillance cameras into the churches there, and the top political leader in Zhejiang oppressed the church. Before the convention, people thought the  leader who did this in Zhejiang  would gain power, be promoted, and would move on to the central government to persecute the church nationwide. But the outcome was that he was demoted and became irrelevant. The church says: “This is the result when you persecute the church!” This was another case where we thought, “Wow! Maybe it’s not that bad.”

The government is China is trying to control things more, but the church is also growing.

What are the implications for churches and Christian groups? Not much has changed from last year. The great transition from the current China to something we do not yet know is still ongoing. It will not be like the United States. It will not be like the old days of China. We don’t know what’s going to happen. It is in process.


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We know at this point that we have to press hard. Press forward. We do what we planned; we do it boldly and we do it carefully. The gospel is still the key people need, and  people’s hearts are crying out for the gospel. The church is  the key. There is no real community life in China, but the churches have that. So we will continue to press forward. We will be humble to serve and to work in the culture. We have a great opportunity now. We just need to press forward.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Loving People Through Prayer
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Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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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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Stories from Nanjing

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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