Amid the usual news stories this Easter Sunday – accounts of the president’s family attending church and the pope addressing multitudes – there is this startling and vastly hopeful headline:
China on course to become 'world's most Christian nation' within 15 years
According to Tom Phillips, writing in the Telegraph:
Christian congregations ... have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao's death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution. Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world's number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.
China is, of course, still a one-party state following the transition from Madman Mao to the more technocrat totalitarians of today. While they may be less ferocious than the Dear Leader, they still recognize a threat when they see one:
China's leadership worry about how the religious landscape might shape its political future, and its possible impact on the Communist Party's grip on power, despite the clause in the country's 1982 constitution that guarantees citizens the right to engage in "normal religious activities".
As a result, a close watch is still kept on churchgoers, and preachers are routinely monitored to ensure their sermons do not diverge from what the Party considers acceptable.
They may also be wise enough to realize that they are on the losing side of something even larger than history.
Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Guatemala on Wednesday, reminisced about his first trip to Latin America as a U.S. senator back in 1985:
A report in the Chinese state-run Xinhua outlet claims that President Barack Obama congratulated Xi Jinping on his "election" to be the top Communist in China. Jinping will be the next president of China, and now controls the Chinese military.
During Monday night’s presidential debate, the candidates beat their breasts vying to be tougher on China. Barack Obama pointed to his accomplishments, while Mitt Romney attacked the president for being afraid to label China a currency manipulator. The amount of time devoted to America’s largest creditor and potential enemy shows that managing the relationship with China is critical for whoever sits in the Oval Office.
Of the books I have read about China, The Corpse Walker, which I reviewed for THE WEEKLY STANDARD, is one of my favorites. Written by Liao Yiwu, The CorpseWalker contains stories about the strange mix of people Liao met while traveling around China and serving time in jail for writing and recording a poem commemorating the victims of the Tiananmen massacre.
The blind, barefoot lawyer, Chen Guangcheng, imprisoned for exposing the morally repugnant practice of forced abortion and sterilization, just evaded one of the world’s most sophisticated state police.
Allen West created an apparent controversy when he stated at a Florida event, "I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party." Democrats decried West's comment--and even the Communist Party USA slammed the Florida congressman.
Former network television host Tom Brokaw will be appearing on the Chinese Communist channel later tonight, according to a press release from China Central Television. The Communist channel bears the ironic acronym CCTV, which in other contexts usually stands for “closed-circuit television.”
The Wall Street Journal Asia has published an editorial arguing that the process for “electing” Hong Kong’s next chief executive reflects the erosion of the “one country, two systems” principle that was supposed to allow Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy and ultimately full democracy.