The snowballing effect of evangelical devotion is changing the face of a nation well on its way to becoming a preeminent global power, according to David Aikman, author of Jesus in Beijing.
At a Heritage Foundation lecture in mid-July, Aikman, former Beijing Bureau Chief for Time magazine, communicated his personal encounters amid Chinese Christian churches and universities, as well as the historical and political knowledge lending itself to his theory.
“The national ideology of China is now, ‘Anything for a profit.’ It is comparable to the American ‘Wild West,’ except that they are at two entirely different periods of national identity,” Aikman pointed out. The speaker went on to itemize instances of corruption and areas of substandard production among Chinese businesses.
“What accounts for this?” Aikman asked rhetorically. “Rights for citizens are unthinkable today compared to thirty years ago. However, due process of law has not kept up with the changing society.” The journalist continued, “The Chinese have nothing to believe in. Communism has destroyed every moral construct; their history, and religion.”
Consistent with this “anything for a profit” theory, entrepreneurial zealots have routinely taken property from landowners without granting anything near just compensation. A vast need has developed for lawyers who hinder the exploitation of these Chinese property owners.
Aikman introduced the catalyst for his thesis: “These lawyers, especially over the past two years, have increasingly converted to Christianity.”
“In 2002, it was estimated that there were 70 or 80 million Chinese Christians, 80% of them being in the countryside, approximately 12 million of them being Roman Catholic,” Aikman continued. More recently, “there has been a shift of Christian believers to the cities, mostly because of the conversion of professionals.”
The speaker rejoiced in the fact that even the mainstream media has taken note of the rise of Christianity in the Chinese legal profession. In the July 24th edition of Newsweek, the “Strength from their Faith” article featured a Beijing lawyer, Li Heping.
“The government says we Chinese are atheist, but I thought I should give the Christian view a fair hearing,” Li says.
Far from the ideal working model, Aikman outlined the reality of Chinese faulty production and business ethics in spite of presumed moral progress.
Said Aikman, “40 percent of American recalls this year were imports from China. Interestingly, Chinese imports make up 40% of all American imports.” “Chinese coal mine deaths account for 70% of such deaths around the world,” he noted. “There are simply no safety standards.”
Aikman disclosed that “there is still untold corruption in banking systems (such as nonperforming loans), thousands of civil protests, and overall discontent among the people.” He mentioned that the overwhelming majority of the Chinese have “scorn for the utopian ideal of communism.”
“There is a huge income gap between the Chinese richest and poorest,” continued Aikman. “The Maoist system has been replaced with free-for-all capitalism,” he asserts but does not name any agencies sold off to the private sector.
Comparing Chinese ideological and fiscal developments with those of other recovering nations throughout history, he concluded that “China doesn’t know how to create a harmonious society…they cannot make money and prosper unless they are upright, moral citizens.”
In accordance with the original American philosophy of self-government, Aikman observed that “you cannot separate political rights from religious freedom.” The people who are subject to free rule must have an intrinsic regard for fellow citizens and moral authority.
Aikman is author of Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power, published in 2003 by Regnery Publishing.
Mary Kapp is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run jointly by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.