Friday, December 01, 2006

China: One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

China has ordained a a new "state-approved" Catholic bishop.

BEIJING: China ordained a new bishop on Thursday in its state-approved Catholic church, a move that could aggravate efforts to mend ties with the Vatican.

Wang Renlei, the vicar general of the Xuzhou diocese in the eastern province of Jiangsu, was ordained in a ceremony that lasted for two hours and was attended by about 1,000 people, said Liu Bainian, the deputy chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

Well. Coming in a country that for years has actively promoted atheism and persecuted other religious groups that did meet official government standards, this is quite a feat. But, when we realize that this is just the third bishop officially allowed for one billion people, it really doesn't mean that much. Nevertheless, we'll be generous about it and count it as a step forward.

But wait.

In the midst of all of this hoopla and fanfare, we see that the Chinese government has executed a minister and 11 of his followers.

BEIJING: The leader of a Chinese Christian sect and at least 11 of his subordinates have been executed for ordering the murder of members of a rival religious group, as authorities sought to suppress big underground churches that they deemed cults.

Xu Shuangfu, the founder of the Three Grades of Servants Church, which once claimed over a million followers in China, was put to death last week, his lawyer, Li Heping said.

It goes on to say that the Chinese government's charge was murder. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't; but, my gut tells me it wasn't.

Li argues that the evidence against Xu was based entirely on the confessions of fellow sect members, whom he says were tortured to admit to crimes and implicate Xu.

My thinking is, it could very well be that the Chinese government had something to do with the Eastern Lightening killings. By doing that, it trumped up a case against the Three Grades of Servants, which the government felt was much more of a threat. Killing the lesser knowns to get at the better knowns, sends a strong message to all the knowns that dare to defy the wishes of the state. So, if we use a bit of reason here, we can see they killed two birds with one stone here. (No pun intended.)

The persecution of these groups serves as one step. The execution of their members is another. Unfortunately, these are steps backward. So, to my good friends that challenged me on my earlier statements on the Chinese system vs. the American one, this kind of thing is precisely why I stand by one of my earlier statements:

I cannot see how their system is better. I wouldn't trade what I have here, for what they have there.


Anonim said...


//...the third bishop officially allowed for one billion people...//

How many Catholics are there in China?

As I'd like to be among "your good friends," I will now offer my challenge on your Chinese-American comparison, which I previously kept to myself. (Btw, no re-affirmation necessary on the friend thing.)

According to objective criteria, I think no one can claim that the Chinese system is better than the American one. Especially in the field of individual freedoms. We also see and hear a lot about Chinese discontent about their own system; so even many Chinese would probably agree with you. But the chances are, many more of them don't even ask the question or don't give a damn to it, and I doubt if they all live sad and smile-less lives. The thing is, people living under close watch by a paternalistic/despotic regime for generations have to devise ways to lead a life nonetheless. So the majority will just steer clear of all the no-no's and yet look to enriching their lives in other ways. This should be doable unless we are talking about a system entirely bent on eradicating happiness.

Well, I think, I agree with your challengers in that previous discussion. It's kind of like, you attempted to prove the obvious by over-interpreting a news fact. Necessary qualifications dully followed.

P.S. Of course, it is also the case that Chinese leaders have seen the fall of Soviets and its aftermath, and they have since been acting very intelligently. I mean their adopting capitalism very carefully while remaining in power cannot be ignored. There should be many more ways for Chinese people to enrich their lives today than two decades ago. Compare this to ex-Soviet peoples' subsequent laments about having lost what little they had when they hoped capitalism would come and they would have more. OK. This has been a bit of materialistic point when your line of argument wasn't. Have mercy.

LASunsett said...

Hi Anonim,

// It's kind of like, you attempted to prove the obvious by over-interpreting a news fact.//

Sometimes I do not expect to prove anything. Sometimes, I just want to present a thought for consideration. I actually thought I'd get more flack for other things I wrote in that same post. That particular post was written on the fly, when time was short. Naturally it left a lot holes that others felt needed to be filled. ;)

Greg said...

While the world Left vilifies America as the most evil entity on earth, despotic regimes in China, Iran, Sudan, Syria and elsewhere torture, maim, supress and kill to a general yawn.

US Marines build schools and Iranian agents blow them up. They train Iraqi police to support the government that, thanks to the sacrifice of our entire country and especially those in uniform, the people of Iraq chose, and al Qaeda/Syrian agents kill them. Yet America is blamed by the world Left for the bloodshed there.

It's disturbing that people don't look at China and get angry. They are actively protecting a genocidal regime in Sudan. They are also protecting the discpicable regime in Iran, essentially making it possible for them to get the bomb. They brutally suppress their own people. Where's the outrage? Oh, that's right - on America....

LASunsett said...

Hi Greg,

//Where's the outrage? Oh, that's right - on America....//

I know I have said this somewhere before, but I think it bears repeating for the context of this topic: I think that we make a good target because we a truly open and tranparent society, as much as there can be in this world, from a realistic standpoint.

What the reasonable people must do is begin to shut out the bipolar extremes. Moderates, centrists, or whatever we want to call them, (whether left or right of center) must ignore the extremists, when they have their partisan fits. That's why I would like more reasonable, less polarizing candidates to consider seeking office, in the future.

But let's face it, reason and rational thought rarely gets ratings, nor does it sell newspapers and other periodicals. Frenzies from both sides can be whipped up from either extreme, as the moment allows. When one party is in power, the other makes the noise (and vice versa).

When Clinton was in power, Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, and others, worked against him. And I do not have to say what we have just seen the last 5 years with Bush in office.

Capitalizing on the weaknesses of the opponents has become more of a strategy, than promoting positive influences and sound workable ideas to advance our society and solve the problems that we have. This political culture is getting more angry with each cycle and the only way for it to tone down some, is to become less accusatory and more self-promotional.

But, not to worry. I am not holding my breath.

ms. miami said...

lasunsett- as for me, i was never interested in comparing the two systems, since any system has its pros and cons. we may laud ourselves for being a land of opportunity, but no one envies us for our rates of violence, for example (hi greg!).

again, my only point in the previous discussion was that regardless the political system (except north korea perhaps), people universally find a way to carry on a personal life with family and friends filled with the usual stresses and happiness.

i think that it is terribly inaccurate to assume that every citizen in x-type of political system leads a life of perpetual misery.

Greg said...

Hi, miss. Natan Sharansky has some interesting things to say about happiness in a totalitarian regime in his book, The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. It's a great book by someone who knows the evil face of totalitarianism as well as anyone. I highly recommend reading it. It might make make you nostalgic for the days when the American Left supported democracy. [sigh]

ms. miami said...

greg, sure i'll add it to my (very long) reading list.

however, as i mention to la earlier, i have lots of personal experience with this question.

of course, i know lots of cubans, some quite recent arrivals. i've also spent a bit of time in the czech republic just a few years after the collapse of the soviet regime, with a czech family in their soviet-syle apartment building (in a town called pardubice).

i have a pretty good idea about their hardships, and would never minimize that. however, i've seen so many examples of these people compartmentalizing their issues with the state in order to lead rather ordinary lives.

L'Amerloque said...

Hello LASunsett !

In China they do not see organized religion as we in the West do, in Amerloque's humble view.

The last time the Chinese religious genie was out of the bottle was from 1851 to 1864, in a monumental event called "The Taiping Rebellion". This was cataclysmic: the Wiki entry baldly states:

//The Taiping Rebellion (1851–1864) was a clash between the forces of the Qing Empire in China and those inspired by a Hakka self-proclaimed mystic named Hong Xiuquan, a Christian convert who had declared himself the new Messiah and younger brother of Jesus Christ. He and his followers established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (also Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace, officially written literally ‘Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace’) and attained control of significant parts of southern China.
Most accurate sources put the total deaths at about 20 million civilians and army personnel, although some claim the death toll was much higher (as many as 50 million according to at least one source). …/…//

The Chinese are a people attuned to history. No current Chinese leader in his/her right mind is going to risk another convulsion like the Taiping (especially after Chairman Mao's "Great Leap Forward" of living memory !).

In Amerloque's view, they will do their utmost to avoid another Taiping upheaval. If ordination into a Chinese-controlled subservient Catholic Church is required, it will be done. If executing a few thousand Falun Gong is required, it will be done. If wiping out a few million "believers" is deemed meet and appropriate… it might even be done. Yes, it might go as far as that.

One should not be surprised, nor outraged. There will not be another Taiping Rebellion: the country could not afford it.

The hysterical Western press has deliberately played the "freedom and democracy in China" card. Either they know Chinese history, and have chosen to ignore it, or they don't, in which case they should close up shop and talk about what they do know.

A couple of thousand yeara ago Pliny said ‘Ex Africa semper aliquod novi’. One doubts that he would say the same today of China, which attempts to learn from history. Is there really anything new out of China ? (grin)


Anonim said...


I hear you... The discussion took a life of its own beyond your original intentions. It is interesting that we cannot help assuming things about each other, putting words into each other's mouth, etc. Maybe without these, there won't be much to discuss. Your original question was simple (if I recall correctly): "what does that tell about the Chinese system?" For those with whom I appear to agree, the short answer would be "nothing." I don't know, that sounds like rude or something, so let's dance around it...


Interesting perspective. Very down-to-earth (very American in that sense, no?) and unemotional. I feel quite a bit better educated (no pun intended).

Anonim said...

L'Amerloque: sorry for misspelling your name above.

Greg: would you like America to be held to the same standards as those despotic regimes? Don't you realize America had been the envy of people world over, and yet she has all but dispelled the magic in a matter of five short years?

Shah Alexander said...

Historically, the relationship between China and Catholic is not good. Vatican approved Manchukuo, a puppet regime in Manchuria sponsored by Japanese fascists.

As you know, the Pope was under Mussolini's influence in those days.

Can China shed the trauma of World War II? In addition to religious freedom, this is also important.

LASunsett said...


//Can China shed the trauma of World War II? In addition to religious freedom, this is also important.//

I agree. They just don't seem to have the capacity to move on and forgive. The sad thing is, the ones that fought that war are old or dead. The difficult thing to overcome is, that generation did not let the younger ones forget. They have kept the grudge alive.