Religious Revivals in Communist China

(Religion in World Affairs)

Arthur Waldron


Vol.42 No.2 ( Spring 1998 )


COPYRIGHT 1998 Foreign Policy Research Institute
            The traditional role of religion in China is not unlike that found 
            under Islam: religion and the state are effectively joined, and a 
            ruler without religious sanction is as difficult to imagine as a 
            faith independent of the state. The demands of Confucianism, for 
            centuries China's official system of belief, are perhaps less 
            exacting than those of Islam, but their place in society is similar. 
            What is more, they continue to frame the problems with which 
            religion confronts the Communist regime in Beijing today. Unless 
            China's fundamental culture changes dramatically, no Chinese leader 
            can rule without some sort of broadly recognized moral or 
            ideological sanction. By the same token, the notion of religion as a 
            separate estate - the realm of individuals and private organizations 
            - will seem strange or even subversive to many Chinese, especially 
            to government officials. 
            Yet communism today is dead. Not long ago there was a sense that 
            Marxism, suitably Sinified by the party of Mao Zedong, could indeed 
            serve as a new and revolutionary orthodoxy for modem China. 
            Certainly communism was, in effect, a religion for its early Chinese 
            converts: more than a sociological analysis, it was a revelation and 
            a prophecy that engaged their entire beings and was expounded in 
            sacred texts, many imported from Moscow and often printed in 
            English. That faith has vanished today, leaving in China a great 
            void that some shared belief must fill. 
            As communism has decayed dramatically over the past decades in 
            China, religious practice of one sort or another has steadily 
            increased. An extraordinary and entirely unexpected revival has made 
            long-padlocked Buddhist temples teem again with worshippers; in 
            Tibet and Xinjiang the Lamaist Buddhist and Islamic faiths, 
            respectively, have become ever more vigorous, even as relentless 
            persecution continues. Communist officials now exploit its ethic of 
            hierarchy and authority to bolster their rule. Ironically, only 
            Daoism, perhaps China's sole truly indigenous faith, has actually 
            been eliminated by the nearly half century of Communist war on 
            Like China's remarkable economic development, which is far better 
            known, the revival of religion seems not to have been intended by 
            the officials who set it in motion by lifting a few prohibitions. 
            Rather, it has grown far beyond the manageable change they had 
            envisioned would become, like economic development, a powerful 
            factor for change that may threaten the status quo the regime seeks 
            to preserve. Even though its numbers are relatively small, 
            contemporary Chinese Christianity is a good initial index for these 
            changes and the problems they cause for the central government.(1) 
            The Current Christian Revival 
            If any religion could safely have been pronounced dead in Communist 
            China, it would have been Christianity. After all, most forms of 
            Christianity were introduced by foreigners, often in the wake of 
            military force, were sustained by large foreign missionary 
            establishments, and seemed mostly to attract "rice-bowl Christians" 
            (drawn to the food, medicine, and education the missions provided) 
            rather than genuine converts. Christianity was particularly hated by 
            the new Communist rulers, and ruthlessly repressed for thirty years 
            starting in 1949. 
            Novelist John Hersey assuredly believed Christianity to be dead when 
            he published a memoir of his missionary parents in China.(2) It is a 
            tale of lost faith and futility in the face of bland Chinese 
            indifference to Western concerns and never more so than at its 
            tragicomic conclusion, when Hersey returns to attempt to bury his 
            parents' ashes, as they had wished, in Shanghai's Christian 
            cemetery. Of course, the cemetery has long been destroyed and 
            forgotten: a concrete apartment house now fills the site. "All that 
            effort for nothing," the son concludes, speaking, perhaps, not only 
            of his attempt to fulfill his filial duty, but of the entire 
            missionary enterprise in China. 
            Hersey's bleak assessment seemed unchallengeable in the mid-1980s, 
            when by all accounts religions in China had dwindled or vanished 
            under Communist repression, and not only foreign transplants such as 
            Christianity, but indigenized faiths such as Buddhism. 
            Yet, a mere thirteen years later, a religious revival is just as 
            undeniably under way in China, and on a scale and of a vigor that is 
            astonishing. Christianity, that alien faith his parents had labored, 
            in vain as Hersey imagined, to foster in China, is today more 
            vigorous than at the height of Jesuit influence in the seventeenth 
            century, or at the peak of Protestant evangelization in the 1920s. 
            The mass faiths are also rebounding: Buddhism's numerous shrines are 
            thronged with devotees and pilgrims, Islam is reinvigorated, 
            particularly in the Western border area of Xinjiang, home to a large 
            Turkic population, and vast lamaseries dynamited by the Chinese army 
            during the Cultural Revolution are being reconstructed in Tibet, 
            where loyalty to the Dalai Lama appears unshaken.(3) 
            This religious revival is best understood, like so much occurring in 
            China today, as an unintended consequence of some fairly limited 
            measures of liberalization. When the Communism took power in 1949 
            they created an array of state-run organizations designed to control 
            and direct religion - a Buddhist association, an ecumenical 
            Protestant "three self" committee, and a "patriotic" Catholic 
            association independent of Rome - as the sole "legal" sponsors of 
            religious activity. Those unwilling to join went underground or died 
            in the gulag. 
            When Hersey was visiting in the early 1980s, those structures and 
            restrictions still existed - as indeed they do today. But they had 
            been loosened by the new "pragmatic" Chinese leadership which 
            expected thereby to pacify the few remaining indigenous believers 
            and win approval from the World Council of Churches and other such 
            organizations. The strategy was not unlike that taken toward the 
            economy: forget about Marxist fundamentalism and let the people 
            trade food and other products. So what if there are a few free 
            markets? Socialism will survive. Likewise, why not unlock the iron 
            grates in front of that temple? All that will happen is that a few 
            old women will be pleased. 
            But the Communist leaders misjudged. Both actions started chain 
            reactions that have proceeded far beyond expectations. The economic 
            development, for instance, is today so well known as to be taken for 
            granted as an intended product of government policy. Yet its broad 
            effects across society now oblige Chinese and foreigners alike to 
            consider, for example, how economic development requires clear laws 
            and objective adjudication, and thus threatens the dictatorship that 
            is fundamental to communism. The religious revival is less well 
            known outside of China, and certainly far less analyzed. Yet it is 
            already proving to be perhaps as significant and widespread in its 
            effects as the more obvious economic changes. 
            Numbers of Protestant Christians in China have climbed so 
            dramatically that their officially sponsored organization has had to 
            scramble to accommodate even its own members. Thus, foreign visitors 
            who wished to join Protestant worship in Beijing in the 1970s were 
            regularly taken to a lovely small chapel with an adjoining parsonage 
            for the minister, who was always happy to meet them. A decade later, 
            however, the chapel was far too small, and what looked to be a vast 
            old octagonal revival hall on the campus of a school was pressed 
            into service. This is not to mention the numerous house churches, 
            where unofficial Christian groups gathered, or the revival of 
            indigenous Chinese Christian sects, such as the True Jesus Church 
            (which now has converts and churches in foreign countries as well). 
            Roman Catholicism has shown similar vigor. Because of their loyalty 
            to the pope, Catholics were persecuted relentlessly during the 1950s 
            and 1960s, foreign missionaries were expelled or imprisoned, and 
            Chinese clergy were murdered or sent to the gulag. But belief did 
            not disappear. In Fanshen, his classic and highly sympathetic 
            account of how communism came to "Longbow Village" in rural China, 
            William Hinton recounts the dramatic unmasking of a corrupt local 
            priest. Once the party cadre had opened the people's eyes to the 
            fraud perpetrated upon them, Hinton explains, the local Catholics 
            quickly discarded their mistaken beliefs. Yet today, as Hinton 
            himself documents in his sequel, Shenfan, the real Longbow Village 
            is once again solidly Catholic.(4) Elsewhere, Catholic churches have 
            been reopened or rebuilt, and the great Marian shrine of Sheshan, 
            near Shanghai, is once again a major site of pilgrimage. 
            Numerically, of course, Christianity remains a minor religion in 
            China. Yet that fact has not reassured the Beijing government, 
            anxious as it is about any independent source of authority and the 
            growth of civil institutions beyond its control. There is plenty of 
            real faith even in the official churches, where worshippers show an 
            uncanny sense of who can and cannot be trusted. Officially sponsored 
            worship is tolerated, but the independent Protestants and the 
            underground Catholic church are persecuted. Some of the faithful 
            follow secret lives of devotion: it is reported that many of the 
            good and selfless nurses in Chinese hospitals are secret Christians. 
            Nonbelievers too - historians and social scientists - are 
            increasingly acknowledging the real contributions made to China by 
            Christianity and its missions. So despite the recent appointment of 
            an old-fashioned hard-line atheist, Ye Xiaowen, to handle religious 
            affairs, Christianity continues to gain ground in China. 
            Why not, one might reasonably ask, simply tolerate religion? The 
            reason is that the spontaneous spread of religion, like the largely 
            uncontrolled growth of the Chinese economy, is more troubling to the 
            Chinese leadership than many observers understand. Chinese 
            authorities refuse openly to accord a greater measure of religious 
            freedom for the same reason that they still refuse to permit freedom 
            of the press, freedom to form political parties, or other freedoms: 
            they understand quite correctly that doing so will drive the final 
            nails into the coffin of Communist rule. And that rule is more than 
            a matter of mere power, repression, or privilege for those in high 
            places, because Marxism and Maoism were, and to some extent remain, 
            quasi-religious phenomena themselves. 
            China has always been a state with an ideology. Its territory - 
            roughly as large as the United States (which also has an ideology) - 
            is too big to rule by force, or on the basis of consanguinity, or by 
            appeals to local interests. The great question of the twentieth 
            century has thus been: what ideology would serve a modem China in 
            the way that Confucianism served two thousand years of traditional 
            China - as an internalized cultural basis for common action? To this 
            query the phrase "Sinified Marxism" was the informed answer for four 
            decades after the Communist conquest of 1949.(5) 
            Not only does that answer no longer persuade the educated, who 
            recognize the intellectual bankruptcy of Marxism, it no longer works 
            with the masses, whose possible one-time faith in communist class 
            morality and the Marxist secular apocalypse of revolution and 
            abundance has long since been swept away by the misery and famines 
            the Communism actually brought. 
            Recognizing this fact, Beijing has turned in recent years to 
            nationalism as the new basis for legitimate role and common action. 
            But this, too, has its limits. The Chinese have rarely thought in 
            narrow or exclusive terms, and their best thinkers want general 
            answers to general problems - which, ironically, is why Marx 
            appealed to them in the first place. Furthermore, nationalism says 
            nothing about morality or about the crimes and horrors of past and 
            present, which so preoccupy Chinese in their private lives. Religion 
            may not be able to resolve the enigmas of evil, but at least it 
            ponders them. 
            The current religious revival in China, then, responds to a burden 
            of personal and collective suffering over fifty years that is 
            inexplicable through communist belief (the party, after all, is 
            theoretically infallible). It also seeks to fill the immense moral 
            and cultural void that has been excavated, at the center of Chinese 
            life, by Communist rule. Religion is not the only response to these 
            needs, as any visitor will testify: China today is a turbulent 
            country, where throngs of merchants, real and figurative, hawk their 
            commercial and ideological wares, while a weakening dictatorship 
            steers to avoid the shipwreck of its authority. China has 
            encountered such times of troubles often over its thousands of years 
            of history, and whenever it has, religion has, as often as not, been 
            a volatile factor. 
            The Tibetan, Islamic, and Buddhist Revivals 
            Tibet and Xinjiang are the places in China where religion currently 
            plays the greatest political role. This is because religion in those 
            territories has been recognized as the essence of national culture, 
            creating a situation similar to that of late-Communist Poland, where 
            even atheists paid homage to the national Catholic faith. In both 
            territories Chinese oppression and gross miscalculation have greatly 
            exacerbated the situation. 
            Prior to the overthrow of the Chinese imperial system in 1911, Tibet 
            was linked to the Qing dynasty by the official patronage of the 
            Dalai Lama by the Qing emperor. This vague relationship gave each 
            party what it wished: from the Tibetan point of view, it was a great 
            honor that the Dalai Lama conferred in permitting the Qing emperor 
            to be a patron; from the Qing point of view, the emperor was 
            properly recognized as superior by the tributary. Then, in the era 
            of the Chinese Republic that followed from 1912 to 1949 Tibet was 
            for all practical purposes independent. But when the Chinese 
            Communists brutally invaded Tibet in the 1950s, they employed no 
            such Qing subtlety. Today they face a national movement that has 
            already won the struggle for international legitimation, even though 
            Tibet's territory and administration remain in Chinese hands. 
            By contrast, Xinjiang, or East Turkestan as it is also known, was 
            conquered by the Qing in a series of bloody nineteenth-century 
            campaigns. Having annexed the area, however, the Qing took great 
            care not to offend the indigenous Muslim Uighurs. Chinese garrisons 
            (the present provincial capital, Urumqi or Dihua, began as a 
            military camp) were purposely located at a distance from regions of 
            dense Muslim settlement. Although governance was difficult, given 
            the absence in Islam of a distinction between church and state, the 
            Qing satraps accomplished it by working with local Islamic elites. 
            But when the Chinese Communists reoccupied Xinjiang, they once again 
            adopted a cinder approach. 
            Chinese nuclear and missile tests were carried out in Xinjiang 
            without consulting the inhabitants, and much of the territory became 
            in effect a Chinese military reservation. Many mosques were 
            demolished during the Cultural Revolution (only to be reconstructed 
            in the 1980s). Most important for the future of Xinjiang, however, 
            has been the reestablishment of pan-Islamic links across its borders 
            with the rest of the Central Asian Islamic world. 
            Authority in traditional Xinjiang derived from connections to the 
            various international Sufi brotherhoods that played a similar role 
            throughout Central Asia: the Naqshbandiya being the most important. 
            Today that order is patronized and domesticated by Turkey. But more 
            militant Islamic ideas are not hard to find: they come from Iran, 
            other Central Asian states, and not least from veterans of the 
            Afghan resistance to the Soviet Union. Bomb detonations and 
            gunfights are now regularly reported from Xinjiang. 
            Both Tibetan Buddhism and Islam have important foreign connections. 
            Lamaist Buddhism is the religion not only of Tibetans but also of 
            nomadic peoples along an arc from the Himalayas through Qinghai and 
            part of Sichuan north and east into Mongolia. The end of 
            Soviet-style communism in the Mongolian Republic has been followed 
            by a rebirth of that traditional faith. Reincarnated Buddhas are 
            appearing in Mongolia, links with Tibet are being reestablished, and 
            the Dalai Lama has visited Ulan Baatar. Islam's foreign connections 
            are more obvious, but it must also be remembered that Muslims abound 
            in China proper and have risen up in revolt in the past. 
            Beijing is understandably worried about Tibet and Xinjiang, but 
            unwilling so far to admit the failure of its current policy which is 
            one of denial and police repression, coupled with feeble attempts to 
            justify both, and private appeals to the United States, Israel, and 
            the various Islamic countries, for help. Prospects are not good for 
            its success. Neighboring governments certainly do not want to offend 
            the Chinese, but they also know that cooperating with foreigners to 
            persecute Islam will scarcely be popular with their people at home. 
            The Turks of Xinjiang have already undergone the scorched earth 
            treatment in the nineteenth century and emerged. Tibetans remain 
            defiant despite the most appalling torture and oppression. Beijing 
            meanwhile adopts a self-contradictory policy: repression and 
            cultural destruction (most of Lhasa is now a Chinese-style city and 
            classic medieval Tibetan structures are being leveled) coupled with 
            transparent attempts at cooptation (such as the kidnapping of the 
            young Panchen lama and the investiture of a Chinese candidate). 
            While one may be assured that these policies will wreak much 
            destruction, it is difficult to imagine them actually resolving the 
            problems in either Tibet or Xinjiang. 
            Least threatening among the reviving religions in China must be 
            counted Buddhism and what remains of Daoism. Historically both have 
            well-developed doctrine, but in their popular form they have 
            generally been part of the syncretic and poorly understood religious 
            practices of the illiterate masses. Moreover, they stress escape 
            from worldly suffering through meditation and scriptural recitation, 
            or taking up residence in remote monasteries. Apocalyptic variants 
            of Buddhism, such as the White Lotus faith of the eighteenth 
            century, have powered mass movements in the past. 
            Today, southern and southeast China in particular are alive with 
            Buddhist observances, and young monks and nuns and pilgrims of all 
            ages are in evidence - some of them communist cadres who have turned 
            to Buddha - and delight in the freedom to travel, share fellowship 
            and devotion, and perhaps acquire some sacred souvenirs. 
            Invisible to the outsider but possible to track through the official 
            Chinese press and other sources is a resurgence of charismatic and 
            apocalyptic Buddhism. One reads regularly of the arrest of a group 
            of followers of a claimant to some sort of divine or kingly status. 
            Sometimes popular religion even fixes on communism itself: 
            unregistered and unofficial temples to Mao Zedong and other 
            Communist worthies have been built here and there in China. 
            If the example of Taiwan, Thailand, and other strongly Buddhist 
            states is to be followed in China, moreover, we may expect teachers 
            of Buddhism, with their own sects, to become increasingly important 
            politically as communism weakens. If even the U.S. vice president Al 
            Gore has found himself courting Buddhist donations in California, 
            one may wonder whether China can be far behind. 
            The Legacy of Confucius 
            Religion cannot be reduced to anything else without distortion and 
            oversimplification. It is an autonomous phenomenon, not simply a 
            cloak for personal or economic or national interests, although it 
            can be all of those as well. Before turning to the significance of 
            religion for China's social and political future, then, it is worth 
            considering the role of individual devotion. 
            The vast burden of China's twentieth-century past has already been 
            alluded to above. Look at almost any recent Chinese movie - Farewell 
            My Concubine or To Live, for example - and you will be confronted by 
            an avalanche of images of evil - real evil. For the events portrayed 
            in these films have not been dredged from the twisted imagination of 
            some Hollywood writer, but rather from the everyday experience of 
            hundreds of millions of Chinese. Every Chinese bears the burden of 
            this evil and more than are willing to face up to it bear some 
            responsibility. Although materially China has made much progress in 
            the last two decades, the more difficult task of confronting, 
            admitting, and pondering the meaning of this suffering - a task on a 
            scale comparable to dealing with Nazi, Soviet, or Japanese imperial 
            guilt - has scarcely begun. 
            In most of the world the doctrines and language of religion have 
            been crucial to this process. In the West, the successive 
            catastrophes of the twentieth century called into being a whole 
            cultural enterprise that meditated on war and peace, memorialized 
            the dead, pursued some of the malefactors, and generally attempted 
            to find meaning or value in the whirlwind - even if it could get no 
            further than Job did when confronted by the divine questions. 
            The Chinese world as yet manifests little by way of analogue to this 
            process. Confucianism has never accepted the existence of radical 
            evil - evil at the root. As the opening words of the famous 
            Confucian text Three Character Classic reminded the generations who 
            traditionally memorized it, "man is originally good." Society and 
            contact with other human beings are what make him evil. But 
            education in virtue can forestall that process and create genuinely 
            good people, who in turn can make society good. This belief must be 
            sorely tested by the reality of China's past century, and the issue 
            must arise of who then is responsible for the catastrophe. 
            Whether Confucianism is in fact a "religion" is a question without a 
            definitive answer. Its "this-worldly" focus is very different from 
            that of the great theistic religions with their three-story 
            universes. Confucius himself refused to speak of the gods "until he 
            understood the affairs of men." Confucianism has always frowned on 
            "superstitious" religious practices, even while insisting that its 
            serious followers spend hours in self-examination and study. 
            Certainly it is more than a felicific calculus. As the French Jesuit 
            scholar Michel Masson has persuasively argued, faith permeates 
            But the emphasis of Confucianism is on the moral practice of the 
            individual, not on whether he is "justified." (That question does 
            not arise, for to be truly good is considered eminently possible). 
            Chinese traditional thought about the legitimation of rule derives 
            from this. The true ruler follows the kingly way (wangdao) of virtue 
            and is thus able to rule without force and create perfect harmony. 
            The philosophers admit that there is another path to rule, the way 
            of the hegemon (badao) which relies on coercion and harsh laws - but 
            this is neither enduring nor morally creditable. 
            On sale at Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius, are little red books 
            with plastic covers entitled Lunyu (the analects) and looking just 
            like the books of Mao's sayings that were so ubiquitous during the 
            Cultural Revolution. The souvenir is good fun and very popular, but 
            one suspects that a lot of Chinese value it because it manifests the 
            simple fact that for as long as people can read Chinese, Confucius 
            will be a classic, whereas Mao's crude utterances have quickly 
            faded. The religious bedrock of China, if such a thing can be said 
            to exist, is a set of attitudes about morality and responsibility 
            that come from Confucianism. 
            The theistic religions tend to stress the inscrutability of divine 
            action. By contrast, Confucianism puts responsibility into the hands 
            of individuals, rulers in particular. It has nothing like the 
            Judeo-Christian notion of divine justice, but equally it is less 
            forgiving. At the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, obliterated by Nazi 
            bombers, the inscription above the former altar reads "Father 
            Forgive." When in China the tomb of the great hero Yue Fei was 
            smashed by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, a graffito 
            appeared asking "Who did this?" 
            Such attitudes do not bode well for individuals - or the memory of 
            individuals - implicated in the various disasters of communism in 
            China. Traditional Chinese histories always judged individuals in 
            extensive biographical sections. That approach is by no means dead. 
            This moral, if not exactly religious, dimension to Chinese culture 
            may figure in surprising ways as, in the decades ahead, Chinese seek 
            to cope, individually and collectively, with the issues of meaning 
            and responsibility in their recent history. 
            Chinese Religions and Foreign Affairs 
            In China's immediate future, however, religion seems likely to be a 
            secondary factor in processes of change. Issues of meaning and 
            history are critical to cultural health, but for the next decade or 
            so whoever is trying to run the country will be preoccupied with how 
            to feed and employ the vast population, meet aspirations for greater 
            freedom and voice, maintain the flow of foreign money, and somehow 
            hold on to power. 
            Indeed, religion may well turn out to be a more important factor in 
            foreign policy than in domestic policy. At present, Beijing is 
            attempting to avoid penalties for violating religious human rights, 
            manage its uneasy connections with foreign religious groups active 
            in China, and persuade the Vatican to remove its ambassador from 
            Taipei. A decade or two ago, when global cold war politics dominated 
            Western relations with China, these tasks were easier. But today 
            there is no more Soviet Union against which China served as an ally, 
            while knowledge of the persecution of religion in China is 
            widespread and international reaction, however slow and muted, is 
            Moreover, the precipitous collapse of liberal Protestantism in the 
            West and concomitant rise of evangelical Christian groups savvy in 
            politics mean that Beijing is facing far tougher interlocutors on 
            matters of religious persecution than in the days when all it had to 
            confront was a flaccid World Council of Churches. The new 
            evangelical and Catholic lobbies are not fooled by official 
            Potemkin-village religion, and are more sympathetic to truly zealous 
            evangelicals like themselves, whom the regime persecutes. Likewise, 
            the Polish pope has proved resistant to the entreaties of some of 
            the Vatican bureaucracy for a quick settlement in China that would, 
            in effect, recognize the state-run church and leave underground 
            believers in the lurch. 
            The situations in Tibet and Xinjiang are, from Beijing's point of 
            view, even worse. Many in China understand that true compromise is 
            the only way out of both problems, but so far such voices have been 
            overruled by hardliners. Massive repression has already been tried, 
            however, in both places, and if executions, exile, imprisonment, and 
            inundations of propaganda were going to work they would have done so 
            by now. 
            The problems in Tibet and Xinjiang are probably not 
            regime-threatening, but they are chronic ulcers. Denied every form 
            of peaceful redress, Tibetans and Uighurs will likely turn 
            increasingly to violence in the years ahead, violence of the sort 
            that is extremely difficult to stamp out once it has begun even by 
            means of major reforms. The rising generations in Tibet and Xinjiang 
            have a hatred for the Chinese oppressors and a steely determination 
            to resist that is akin to that of the peoples of Eastern Europe 
            under the Soviets, not least in that it is sustained in good part by 
            In China proper, religion will play a role in the growing debate 
            about values and morality, expressed in questions about how the 
            country should legitimately be ruled. Practical questions about 
            mechanisms will be the primary focus of this debate: what sort of 
            legislature and executive? what rights for citizens? and so forth. 
            But as with the framing of the United States Constitution, some sort 
            of moral orientation will be necessary. If there is no political 
            reform in China, then one can expect religion to continue to develop 
            on the personal level within the country, and to grow both as a 
            source of resistance to tyranny at home and as a source of tension 
            with the rest of the world. 
            The classic European pattern of king and bishop, or church and 
            state, never existed in China. Political authority was absolute, and 
            religion, or Confucian philosophy, was controlled and coopted much 
            more completely than in the West. China's different tradition and 
            social architecture mean that in the contemporary world China may 
            confront the same sorts of issues as other countries, but cannot 
            address them in the same ways. Given that totally unitary rule, 
            whether by emperor or Communist party, is probably at an end in 
            China, the independent role of religion there will almost certainly 
            grow in strength and significance in the years ahead. The words of 
            defeat, "all that effort for nothing," spoken by Hersey about 
            Christian missions, will then be more appropriately said of the far 
            larger and far bloodier business of Chinese Communism. 
            1 The best survey of Christianity in China is Daniel Bays, ed., 
               Christianity in China: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present 
               (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1996). 
            2 John Hersey, The Call: An American Missionary in China (New York: 
               Alfred A. Knopf, 1985). 
            3 On Tibet, see Warren W. Smith, Tibetan Nation: A History of 
               Tibetan Nationalism and Sino-Tibetan Relations (Boulder, Colo.: 
               Westview Press, 1996); and Cutting Off the Serpent's Head: 
               Tightening Control in Tibet, 1994-1995 (New York: Human Rights 
               Watch, 1996); on Xinjiang, see Donald H. McMillen, Chinese Communist 
               Power and Policy in Xinjiang 1949-1977 (Boulder, Colo.: Westview 
               Press, 1979); and Raphael Ismaili, with the assistance of Lyn 
               Gorman, Islam in China: A Critical Bibliography (Westport, Conn.: 
               Greenwood Press, 1994). 
            4 See William Hinton, Fansben: A Documentary of Revolution in a 
               Chinese Village (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), pp. 118-124; and 
               William Hinton, Shenfan (New York: Random House, 1983), p. 283. 
            5 See Benjamin T. Schwartz, Chinese Communism and the Rise of Mao 
               (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1951). 
            6 See Michel C. Masson, Philosophy and Tradition: The Interpretation 
               of China's Philosophical Past: Fung Yu-lan, 1939-1949 (Taipei: 
               Institut Ricci, 1985). 
               Arthur Waldron is Lauder Professor of International Relations at the 
               University of Pennsylvania, director of Asian Studies at the 
               American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the Foreign 
               Policy Research Institute.