New Delhi: A book on China written by a seasoned journalist and released recently throws valuable insights into its future. There is good news for China watchers from the West or East.
The book, Jesus in Beijing, is significant because even though China is opening up to foreign investments, developments on the religious front, in the context of the continuing persecution, are not known to the outside world.
He believes that an unreported tectonic shift is happening in global politics—and it is driven by religion. This has the potential to change the status of China from that of an adversary to an ally of the United States.
His forecasts appear quite plausible in view of the amazing growth of the underground Church-- house churches—now and then confirmed by unofficial sources. Changes are imminent in this land which had gone through tough times under communism and the cultural revolution.
Dr Aikman, former Time magazine Beijing bureau chief, who had been making frequent visits to the forbidden land even after completing his two-year term has good contacts at all levels.
The Chinese are being attracted to the western model of development and many there feel that Christian values had contributed to the economic growth. He quotes a Chinese intellectual who stated as follows at a lecture intended for tourists: ``One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world. We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic and cultural perspective. At first we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. But in the past 20 years we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion. Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubts about this.’’
The speaker was a scholar from one of China’s premier academic research institution, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing in 2002.
Early in 2002, China’s then president and Communist party leader, Jiang Zeming, attended a dinner party in the private home of another senior Chinese political figure in the heart of Beijing. The conversation turned to the party’s upcoming Congress, a momentous once-every-five year event. The company was relaxed, the mood ebullient. ``Comrade Jiang,’’ a guest asked, ``if, before leaving office, you could make one decree that you knew would be obeyed in China, what would it be? ‘’ Jiang put on a broad smile and looked around the room. ``I would make Christianity the official religion of China, ‘’ he replied. The author comments that subsequently Jiang had relinquished power and was no longer in a position to do so. ``But even if he were being merely playful, with his fellow guests, his whimsical comment was telling,’’ adds Dr Aikman.
The Christians are still a minority—7 to 8 per cent—of the country’s 1.2 billion population, but they are seen everywhere and keep turning up in the most unexpected places. ``I discovered that there are deputy provincial governors, judges and lawyers in China who are Christians, and that legal experts were working hard behind the scenes to try to implement laws of religious freedom and the larger concept of the rule of law—not just for Christians to be able to worship without harassment, but for followers of all faiths.’’ He had heard from Chinese Christians that there are Christian officers and enlisted men in the Peoples Liberation Army. Besides there are Christian-run homes for old people, Christian-run orphanages and hospitals, and Christian private schools in China.
What are his other disclosures and forecasts? China might be America’s next ally against radical Islam; fierce anti-Christian persecution and covert government encouragement exist side by side in China; the Christian underground has spread and won over key members of the Communist party to its fold. And the more startling, if not unreasonable, presumption is that in the next 30 years one-third of China’s population could be Christian, making china one of the largest Christian nations in the world.
The book has been published by Regnery Publishing INC, Washington DC.