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China, People's Republic of.

(LL Sinae). 1. E Asia; probably ancient Seres; medieval Cathay; rep. 1911; area, including outlying territories: 3,760,339 sq. mi.; Latitude ca. the same as that of N. Am. countries (Hudson Bay to Nicaragua); climate similar to that of N. Am. Greater part of the country is mountainous, but there are large tracts of fertile soil, chiefly on the plains and in the valleys of the great rivers. Most important rivers are the 3,200-mi. Yangtze; the 2,700-mi. Hwang Ho or Yellow; the 1,780-mi. Amur; the 1,200-mi. Si or West. The 1,000-mi. Grand Canal, from Hangchow to Peking, connects the Yangtze and the Hwang Ho.

2. The Chinese belong to the Mongoloid race. Civilization early reached a high stage of development in China, but then remained at a standstill for centuries, with the country closed to for. influences. Educ. was held in highest esteem but was not common. Rigorous examinations in the classical literature of the country were required for pol. preferment. But after the 1911 revolution, educ. was opened to the masses, including women, and W science was introd.

3. Early Chinese hist., highly elaborated and embellished by Chinese historians, is obscure. Many dynasties are recorded of which no tangible trace appears. But China was a civilized nation when all Eur. nations were steeped in barbarism. Its culture antedates that of Greece and Rome. The oldest dynasty bordering on hist. domain appears to be the Shang dynasty (ca. 1766–ca. 1122), followed by the Chou dynasty (ca. 1122–ca. 255), founded by Wu Wang. During the latter dynasty Confucius* and other prominent men, whose writings are still extant, flourished.

4. The 3 hist. religions of China are Taoism,* Buddhism,* and Confucianism.* Other non-Christian religions that entered China include Zoroastrianism,* Manichaeism,* Islam,* and Judaism.* All over China there is a multitude of temples; ritualistic acts are constantly performed by gen. ignorant priests and monks. The average Chinese lives in constant dread of evil spirits, whose malicious intentions he must thwart, whose anger he must appease. Ancestor* worship is an outstanding feature of Chinese cultus.

5. In the early hist. of Christianity, Christian thought appears to have penetrated into China. Nestorianism,* which, according to an 8th c. tablet discovered ca. 1625 near Sian, entered China in the 6th or 7th c., survived there till ca. the 14th c., when it succumbed to persecution.

6. Marco Polo, famed 13th c. traveler, mentions Christian chs. in China. John* of Montecorvino entered China 1294. In the 16th c. M. Ricci* and others came. Dominicans came from Mexico to Macao (Heungshan) 1587; Coqui (Cocchi) reached the mainland 1630. Dominicans and Franciscans lodged protests in Rome against Jesuitic accommodation to paganism. In 1645 Innocent X issued a decree against the practices of the Jesuits as described by Morales, a Dominican. In 1656 Alexander VII sanctioned the practices as described by the Jesuits. In 1692 Emp. K'ang-hsi legalized dissemination of the Christian religion throughout the empire. In 1704 Clement XI confirmed a decree issued by the Inquisition forbidding the use of Shang-ti and T'ien and approving T'ien Chu; it forbade tablets bearing the characters Ching T'ien in churches; it prohibited Christians from taking part in sacrifices to Confucius or to ancestors; it proscribed ancestral tablets with characters calling them the throne or seat of the spirit of the deceased, but permitted tablets with merely the name of the dead. (See also Chinese Term Question.) Yung Chêng (emp. 1723–35), son and successor of K'ang-hsi, inaugurated persecutions that continued many yrs. Many anti-Christian laws were promulgated. Later, under Fr. colonial policy, RCm was reborn in China.

7. Prot. missions did not enter China till the beginning of the 19th c. R. Morrison* came to China September 7, 1807, followed 1813 by W. Milne.* E. C. Bridgman* arrived at Canton 1830. K. F. A. Gützlaff* reached China 1831. After the Opium War bet. Eng. and China 1842, China was forced to open 5 port cities: Shanghai, Ningpo (now Ninghsien), Fuchow (Fowling), Amoy, and Canton; a new era for commercial and miss. endeavor resulted. Later wars opened new ports but also increased Chinese opposition to for. commercial and religious contact; this led to frequent persecutions and culminated in the Boxer outbreak 1900. The Boxers were a Chinese secret society that stirred up antiforeign action in N China. In the uprising ca. 200 mems. of miss. families and thousands of Chinese Christians lost their lives.

8. In the 19th c. missions were opened in China by organizations in Eur., Am., and Australia and by the CIM The Mo. Syn. entered the field 1917 when it took over the work begun by E. L. Arndt* 1913; a sem. est. 1922 at Hankow moved 1938 to Wanhsien, returned to Hankow 1947, closed 1949. See also Riedel, Erhardt Albert Henry.

9. Though China appeared to offer excellent opportunities for miss. endeavor after WW II, the govt. of the Chinese People's Republic (est. October 1, 1949) forced withdrawal of miss. personnel. By the close of 1952 only ca. 30 Prot. missionaries were known to be in China. The last LCMS worker left China June 1952. The regime on the mainland of China controls, if not censors, all religious work and worship of Prots., RCs, and other Christians. Buddhism, Taoism, and Mohammedanism have been proscribed. Many missionaries once assigned to China have opened new areas occupied heavily by Chinese, esp. Malaya, Indonesia, and Formosa (Taiwan*).


See also Hsin I Hui.

A. C. Moule, Christians in China Before the Year 1550 (London, 1930) and Nestorians in China (London, 1940); P. Y. Saeki, The Nestorian Documents and Relics in China (Tokyo, 1937); K. S. Latourette, A History of Christian Missions in China (London, 1929); J. Schmidlin, Das gegenwärtige Heidenapostolat im fernen Osten, Part 1 (Münster, 1929); P. M. d'Elia, The Catholic Missions in China (Shanghai, 1934); C. Cary-Elwes, China and the Cross: Studies in Missionary History (London, 1957); P. A. Varg, Missionaries, Chinese, and Diplomats: The American Protestant Missionary Movement in China, 1890 to 1952 (Princeton, 1958); F. P. Jones, The Church in Communist China: A Protestant Appraisal (New York, 1962); W. G. Polack, “Christian Missions in China Before Morrison,” CTM, III (April and June 1932), 274–281, 410–416.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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