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Portal:Christianity in China

THE CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA PORTAL

Introduction

The Nestorian Stele is a Tang Chinese stele erected in 781 AD that documents 150 years of history of early Christianity in China. It includes texts both in Chinese and in Syriac.

Christianity in China appeared in the 7th century, during the Tang dynasty, but did not take root until it was reintroduced in the 16th century by Jesuit missionaries. Today, it comprises Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals and a small number of Orthodox Christians. Although its lineage in China is not as ancient as Taoism, Mahayana Buddhism or Confucianism, Christianity, through various ways, has been present in China since at least the 7th century and has gained significant influence during the last 200 years. The number of Chinese Christians has increased significantly since the easing of restrictions on religious activity during economic reforms in the late 1970s; Christians were four million before 1949 (three million Catholics and one million Protestants).

Accurate data on Chinese Christians is hard to access. According to the most recent internal surveys there are approximately 31 million Christians in China today (2.3% of the total population). On the other hand, some international Christian organizations estimate there are tens of millions more, which choose not to publicly identify as such. The practice of religion continues to be tightly controlled by government authorities. Chinese over the age of 18 are only permitted to join officially sanctioned Christian groups registered with the government-approved Protestant Three-Self Church and China Christian Council and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church. On the other hand, many Christians practice in informal networks and unregistered congregations, often described as house churches or underground churches, the proliferation of which began in the 1950s when many Chinese Protestants and Catholics began to reject state-controlled structures purported to represent them. Members of such groups are said to represent the "silent majority" of Chinese Christians and represent many diverse theological traditions.

Selected article

Dr. Peter Parker
Medical missions in China by Protestant Christian physicians and surgeons of the 19th and early 20th centuries laid many foundations for modern medicine in China. Western medical missionaries established the first modern clinics and hospitals, provided the first training for nurses and opened the first medical schools in China. Work was also done in opposition to the abuse of opium. Medical treatment and care came to many Chinese who were helplessly addicted and eventually public and official opinion was influenced in favor of bringing an end to the destructive trade. The history of China’s current health institutions can be traced to many of the medicines, methods, and systems introduced by medical missionaries.

With time the expansion and growth of hospitals in China during the 1800s became more widely accepted. By 1937 there were 254 mission hospitals in China, but more than half of these were eventually destroyed by Japanese bombing during World War II or otherwise due to the Second Sino-Japanese War or the Chinese Civil War. After World War II most of these hospitals were at least partially rehabilitated, and eventually passed to the control of the Government of the Peoples' Republic of China, but are still functioning as hospitals.

Selected biography

Feng Yuxiang
Feng Yuxiang (simplified Chinese: 冯玉祥; traditional Chinese: 馮玉祥; pinyin: Féng Yùxíang; Wade–Giles: Feng Yü-hsiang) (18821948) was a warlord during Republican China.

As the son of an officer in the Qing Imperial Army, Feng spent his youth immersed in the military life. He joined the army at age 16 and proved himself to be hard working and motivated.

Feng, like many young officers, was involved in revolutionary activity and was nearly executed for treason. He later joined Yuan Shikai's Beiyang Army and converted to Christianity in 1914. Feng's career as a warlord began soon after the collapse of the Yuan Shikai government in 1916. Feng, however, distinguished himself from other regional militarists by governing his domains with a mixture of paternalistic Christian socialism and military discipline (he was reputed to have liked baptizing his troops with water from a fire hose), thus earning the nickname the 'Christian General'.

By 1929 Feng's Guominjun clique controlled most of north-central China, but because he was under increasing pressure from the expanding power of the Nanjing government, he and Yan Xishan launched the Central Plains War against Chiang Kai-shek but were defeated by forces loyal to Nanjing.

Stripped of his military power, Feng spent the early 1930s criticizing Chiang's failure to resist Japanese aggression. On May 26, 1933, Feng Yuxiang became commander-in-chief of the "Chahar People's Anti-Japanese Army Alliance", with Ji Hongchang as frontline commander. With a strength claimed by Feng to be over 100,000 men, Ji Hongchang's army pushed against Duolun, and by July 1933, drove the Japanese and Manchukuoan troops out of Chahar Province. By late July, Feng Yuxiang and Ji Hongchang established, at Kalgan, the "Committee for Recovering the four provinces of the Northeast". Chiang Kai-shek, fearing that communists had taken control of the Anti-Japanese Allied Army, launched a concerted siege of the army with 60,000 men. Surrounded by Chiang Kai-shek and the Japanese, Feng Yuxiang resigned his post, while Ji Hongchang fought on for a while before seeking asylum in Tianjin in January 1934. Between 1935 and 1945, however, Feng Yuxiang supported the KMT and held various positions in the Nationalist army and government. From 1935 to 1938 he was the Vice-President of the National Military Council and a member until 1945. After the Second Sino-Japanese War began in 1937 he was Commander in Chief of the 6th War Area.

After World War II, he traveled to the United States where he was an outspoken critic of the Truman administration’s support for the Chiang regime. He died in a shipboard fire on the Black Sea en route to the Soviet Union in 1948 and his remains were buried with honors in China in 1953.

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