Brett McS, Reporting From China

Photo: House Church in Xining, Western China, Brett McS

Reader Brett McS is just back home in Oz from China (where, he reports to my pride that W&W really is blocked). I thought his snippets in a combox were too interesting to be hidden away like that. And maybe ninme will post that picture he mentions soon, so I can pinch it from her (update: as you can see, he sent it to me. Interesting that they seem to be able to be open here, whereas in other places they have to hide; perhaps the Chicoms prefer Christianity to Islam?).
The western part of China (where we are testing our new locomotives) is a heavily Muslim area, and there have been numerous attempted revolts there, aimed at establishing an Islamic state. The Beijing government is having none of it. The military are constantly in evidence in this area and they stomp hard on any such attempts (as one can judge by the recent doings in Lhasa). I suspect that they also ship out (with suitable incentives) 20 thousand or so spare Han every now and then, to forestall any sort of demographic challenge.

On the other hand, the first actual place of worship I saw was a Christian house church (I sent ninme a picture). Christianity is rapidly growing, one could say booming, in China, but it is doing so in a quiet, low key manner - giving unto Caesar etc.

It is not surprising to me that the Chinese government leaves such people (non-political Christians) more or less alone. It is the same attitude they take toward the commercial spirit of the Chinese people, avowedly anti-communistic that it is. P.J.O'rourke says that the health of an economy can be measured by how quickly it handi-vacs your wallet. On that basis, the Chinese (micro) economy is in good shape.

I can't help thinking that it is the legacy of the Christian missionaries (such as the famous Eric Liddell - of Chariots of Fire fame) - especially their brave support of the Chinese during the Japanese invasion - that was the origin of the rise of Christian China. Of course Christianity is a good fit with the commercial spirit, also, which doesn't hurt.