MOST Christians have "written off" China according to a report on "China and the ChurcheS" issued by the Brussels-based
Christian research association, Pro Mundi Vita. This is so, says the association, in spite of the fact that Christians have been in China since the seventh century.
The report says that few Christians ever give China a thought.
"We must stress first of all that for the overwhelming majority of Christians, China has been implicitly written off as if Christendom's vast investment of lives and labour in China had never happened, and as if China's contemporary transformation had no relevance to the Kingdom of God."
The report pinpoints a revival of Christian interest in Communist China in the later sixties, at a time when "a new perception was growing in the West that there was a larger and worthier war to wage than the Cold War, and that its lines of battle did not have to leave all Christians on one side and all Communists on the other".
Whereas Christian missionaries formerly worked on the "margins" of Chinese society, the focus of Christian interest now moved to "the mainstream where China's own movements and leaders have all along been shaping the longest and broadest single current of human history", Most missionaries in China saw the period from the 1940s to the 1960a as "a repudiation of all that had been represented by the largest missionary enterprise ever mounted by the Christian world". But the report asks whether the hand of God may not be discernible in the mainstream development of present-day Chinese society.
The authors conclude that through Marxism, the Chinese people may evert have been introduced to certain broadly Christian ideas. These include work in the service of others; an aspiration for justice; the exaltation of a simple and frugal life; the uplift of the peasant masses and the merging of social classes.
"Chinese children are today being taught to have a sense of responsibility towards the com munity. But is it not just that which the Second Vatican Council has called for so insistently from the People of God?"