Ross and Christine Paterson's Blog

Reflections from Our Journey

Category: China News

Category: China News

Trade Wars

Trade negotiations between the world’s two largest economies, the USA and China, recently took a seriously negative turn. The U.S. raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of imported goods from China to 25% from 10%. Beijing responded with tariffs of up to 25% on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods.

The reactions on both sides were strong. CNBC reported that the People’s Daily, China’s official newspaper for the Communist Party, published a post titled “This is China’s attitude!” on its official WeChat account. The post contains a graphic with three slogans touting the country’s defiant attitude in face of trade tensions with the U.S. There was just one image, with three slogans in gold lettering printed over the red Chinese flag and a picture of shipping containers. CNBC’s translation of the Chinese phrases reads: “Negotiate, sure!”; “Fight, anytime!” “Bully us, wishful thinking!”

The People’s Daily, according to China Media Project, spoke harshly of the US government, saying “American consumers, farmers and enterprises,” have “become the victims of the trade tensions stirred up by the U.S., not victims of ‘unfair Chinese trade practices.’”

But there is “Promise fatigue” on the US side. "No longer do U.S. policymakers believe Beijing’s protestations of good faith, of asserting that it will stop taking advantage of the U.S. in trade, that it will honour intellectual property rights, and that it will uphold freedom of navigation in critical waterways. Years of broken promises and a doubling down on exploitative behaviour has worn thin Beijing’s welcome in Washington." (Real Clear Politics)

At the same time, on both sides there are internal battles being played out. Those who have worked on the inside of the Trump administration spoke of a similar division at the highest level in the minds of US policy makers, between ‘nationalists’ and ‘globalists’. Nationalists want aggressive measures like tariffs because they believe there are two systems that are against each other and only one will win – “winner takes all”. Globalists want to work for a world in which these two systems can complement each other and thus both sides can benefit. It seems the nationalists, using “national security” on matters like steel and aluminum, have won the battle.

On the Chinese side there was a movement towards significant change of the sort that the US is wanting, but the Xi leadership has reversed that trend, in a battle between hardliners and reformers. Michael Pillsbury, an advisor to President Trump, speaks of “a very famous document in the U.S.-China economic relations field called China 2030, published jointly with the Chinese and the World Bank. Liu He, the chief negotiator, is a co-signer of it. He worked on it. The plan in China 2030 is for a much freer market, more foreign investment, cutting back on these massive state-owned enterprises and the subsidies they have. But that has been put on hold for ten years now.” So Pillsbury remains optimistic that the reformers in China want their system to change; the hard-liners don’t.

Pillsbury comments: “I think the relationship between President Trump and President Xi is what's at work here. They know this is part of a larger set of issues between the U.S. and China, and they want to solve it. So ultimately, I'm optimistic the two presidents can make a deal.”

Pray for the Lord to overrule in the increasing tensions between the two countries.

Pray specifically for President Xi and President Trump, that they would be given good advice by those around them and they would “make a deal.”

Continue to pray for a move of the Spirit in both countries that would cause at least some leaders on both sides to seek the face of the Lord for His wisdom.

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Important Anniversaries In China

“One unique feature of the Chinese political calendar is the prominence of sensitive anniversaries. The approach of these anniversaries often means increased security measures, tightening of regulations, and even the slowing down of the internet. In other words, sensitive anniversaries make the party-state very nervous.” The year 2019 is especially sensitive.

March 10 (1959) was the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China taking full control of what is now the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). “For the Tibetan government in exile it is regarded as the day that Tibet was invaded; for the Chinese government, it was the day that Tibet was liberated.”

May 4 (1919) is the one hundredth anniversary of “the beginning of what would be known as the May Fourth Movement, as students in Beijing demonstrated against the government’s weak response to “the foreigners (with) their concessions and treaty ports”, but at the same time it challenged internally for “the modernization of Chinese society and politics.” Obviously today the Chinese government will be sensitive to the fact that it was a movement generated by student protest, something which the Chinese leadership would not like to see repeated in any form.

June 4 (1989) “This is arguably the most sensitive date on the Chinese political calendar… It was on this date that the army was called in to crush the demonstrations that had been taking place in Tiananmen Square in Beijing since April, 1989.” This year, the 30th anniversary, is likely to be unusually tense, with possible demonstrations in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

July 5 (2009) is the tenth anniversary of the ethnic riots in Xinjiang, which “broke out in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, following a violent incident between Uighurs and Han Chinese at a factory in Guangdong province that was triggered by a false report of a rape… The official death toll of the riots was 126, but Uighur rights groups claim it was much higher.” With the massive clampdown in Xinjiang in 2018-19, the anniversary is obviously a highly sensitive one.

October 1 (1949) is “the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.” Chairman Mao Zedong declared from the Gate of Heavenly Peace that the Peoples Republic of China had at last stood up. “Much of the news out of China in the coming months will need to be understood in its light. .. it’s reasonable to expect that the lockdowns will become much tighter.”

President Xi recently gathered officials from all around China, saying that “whether dealing with foreign policy, trade, unemployment, or property prices, officials would be held responsible if they slipped up and let dangers spiral into real threats… ‘Globally, sources of turmoil and points of risk are multiplying,’ Xi said. ‘At home the party is at risk from indolence, incompetence and of becoming divorced from the public.’” Nervous words to prepare for a sensitive year.

Source: “The Year of Living Sensitively” Joann Pittman in China

Source https://www.chinasource.org/resource-library/chinasource-blog-posts/the-year-of-living-sensitively

Pray for China in the year 2019, that there would be no new controversial events or anniversaries this year.

Pray for the government of China, that they would handle these anniversaries wisely.

Pray for those impacted by these anniversaries, whether students, Tibetans or Uighurs or others, that they would see that the only ultimate answer to such pain and these memories lies in the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus.

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China’s Social Credit System

China has introduced a “social credit system”. The target of this system is “to give each of China’s 1.4 billion citizens a personal credit score. The social credit system assigns both positive and negative scores for individual or corporate behaviour in an attempt to pressure citizens into behaving. The Chinese government has built up a data-driven system which automatically generates ratings for each Chinese citizen, business and authority based on whether the government and their fellow citizens consider them trustworthy.” The system is expected to be fully in place by 2020, but is already partially working.

The general reaction inside China at this initial stage seems to be favourable, with Chinese citizens feeling it brings security and ‘trustworthiness’ to them because bad citizens and companies should be revealed and restricted.

Recently Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post gave an analysis. “Millions of Chinese individuals and businesses have been labelled as untrustworthy on an official blacklist banning them from any number of activities, including accessing financial markets or travelling by air or train … Over 3.59 million Chinese enterprises were added to the official creditworthiness blacklist last year, banning them from bidding on projects, accessing security markets, taking part in land auctions and issuing corporate bonds.”

“This ‘untrustworthy conduct’ of individuals and businesses also includes charges of swindling customers, failing to repay loans, illegal fund collection, false and misleading advertising, as well as uncivilised behaviour such as taking reserved seats on trains or causing trouble in hospitals”… Also included were “provocations on flights, attempting to take a lighter through airport security, smoking on a high-speed train, tax evasion and failing to pay fines, employers who failed to pay social insurance, those who spread false information about terrorism.
The results are punishing. “About 17.46 million ‘discredited’ people were restricted from buying plane tickets and 5.47 million were restricted from purchasing high-speed train tickets… Besides restrictions on buying tickets, local authorities also used novel methods to put pressure on untrustworthy subjects, including preventing people from buying premium insurance, wealth management products or real estate, as well as shaming them by exposing their information in public.”

Certainly there are positive results of the system as “a total of 3.51 million untrustworthy individuals and entities repaid their debts or paid off taxes and fines last year due to pressure from the social credit system.”
But there are serious negatives: “Lawyers worry that the accelerated use of the creditworthiness system will violate an individual’s right to privacy… Many people cannot pay their debt because they are too poor but will be subject to this kind of surveillance and this kind of public shaming. It violates the rights of human beings.’”

But the biggest issue is how far the system will be taken. Could attendance at church or a house group, monitored by China’s 400 million surveillance cameras, result in Christians being given drastically low credit ratings with all the ‘punishments’ that will bring to them?

Source: South China Morning Post

Pray that the social credit system will not be used to harm Christian believers or restrict their attendance at Christian meetings.

Pray that the system would be used only to bring security and law-abiding attitudes to China’s citizens.

Pray that those who continue to develop and run the system would have a sense of justice and genuine protection for all of China’s citizens.

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The mission movement coming out of the Far East...

This week, as I was travelling on Taipei’s recent but excellent Metro system, I suddenly heard my name in Chinese being called by another passenger. I looked round and saw a young lady was calling out my name. As we chatted, I discovered that she was a graduate of the Barnabas School Of Missions, a school that I started here in Taipei about 10 years ago, to train local Chinese speaking believers in cross-cultural mission.

But what really encouraged me was her ongoing comment “I am going for six months to a middle Eastern country to work as a missionary next year.” That kind of unexpected encouragement makes the work we do in the schools of mission in Taiwan and China all worthwhile.

I should have retired by now...

We work to encourage Christian believers here to learn how to do cross-cultural work, and then to go out into the field. I should have retired by now (!), but I have a strong conviction that we are about to see a great wave of missionaries from China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries go out from their Chinese churches. So training and encouraging those who go and those who send, keeps Christine and myself busy in the Far East.

As far as Taiwan is concerned, there is a rather unique problem. The church to which I am connected here has planted over 400 churches worldwide. That’s exciting, of course. But the problem is that almost all of these churches speak Chinese, even though they might be in Paris or London or Delhi or wherever! That is pretty logical when you think of it, because wherever you go you’ll bump into Chinese, and indeed probably many of them. So it’s a great idea to serve them.

The challenge of language.

But my challenge is that it doesn’t help the local population of most countries to have a Chinese speaking church in their capital or elsewhere, because locals would then have to learn Chinese before they can hear about Jesus! And that, simply put, is not going to happen.

So the challenge for Chinese believers, here in Taiwan and elsewhere, is to learn other languages and understand other cultures, to then reach their new neighbours!

That mission movement has started. It’s exciting. But it’s only a beginning, it’s a trickle on the beach, not a tsunami wave. But I believe that will come. That’s why FieldPartner is currently building a Chinese school of missions online, using first language Chinese speakers with experience of cross-cultural mission.

We are putting the physical schools that we have run successfully in Taiwan and China on to the internet. That way any Chinese speaking person anywhere can be trained and prepared for mission. Then one day it won’t be just one voice on the Metro, it’ll be a chorus of folk saying they’ve been trained and they are about to go!

 

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Chinese Christians murdered in Pakistan

At the time of writing there is some confusion regarding the deaths of two young Chinese in Pakistan. But this much is clear. Meng Li Si and Li Xinheng were abducted on May 24th in Quetta, the capital city of Baluchistan province in Pakistan. Pakistan authorities confirmed their deaths saying they had been abducted by the Islamic State. The Pakistan source also claimed that they were “preachers” who were aged 24 and 26. They were teachers in a local private school.

It was also reported that the two victims and another 11 Chinese arrived in Pakistan holding business visas. The owner of the organization for which they worked is a Korean Christian who was reported to be carrying out local missionary work. He was said to be still in Pakistan.

A friend of theirs who was interviewed stated that "They came to Pakistan for work. They were close friends." She said that the two and the other 13 Chinese taught Chinese in the Korean-run language institute. Each was paid 30,000 rupees (about US$286) a month. She explained that they studied Urdu recently because they had to do so as part of their teaching requirements. Their language institute didn't have a name and was set up in a house beside a white mosque without any mark or advertisement. "I have never seen people kinder than them," the friend said.

Chinese state media took a very unsympathetic view, especially Global Times. They claim government sources laid heavy blame on the Korean missionary who allegedly organized the mission work, as well as on the two young Chinese missionaries themselves, insinuating they were naïvely duped into going to Pakistan. A Global Times report noted that this incident should “serve as a lesson” to other Chinese.

However, Steve Schirmer writing in “West Courtyard” makes two powerful points:

Firstly, Schirmer writes, “I want to address (the matter of) their business visa. The Pakistani government seems to be focusing one of their criticisms on the reality that these two people were living there on a questionable business visa. Whether their visa was legitimate or not is not the cause of their death. They did not die because they lived on a questionable business visa. Mr. Li and Ms Lu were targeted, kidnapped, and murdered because they were declaring the message of Jesus Christ to Muslims. That is why they were killed. ISIL does not care if they did business or studied the Urdu language. They only cared that these two and others were in Pakistan to advance the message of the Christ.”

Secondly, Schirmer comments: “For many years, the Christian community, especially in the West, has been saying something to the effect that Chinese believers are better equipped to serve in places like Pakistan than Western Christians. That has never been proven and is unfortunately proven false by this event…. The presence of a Chinese Christian is not necessarily more effective than their Western counterpart because they are Chinese. The Chinese face the same risks that any one of us may face.” (Sources ChinaSource; West Courtyard; Reuters; China Christian Daily.)

Prayer topics (from Steve Schirmer)

We need to pray for China and its church.

We need to pray for the loved ones of Mr. Li and Ms. Lu.

We need to pray and ask God to give them strength to persevere and not give up.

We need to challenge the Chinese church to pray for ISIL and ask God to raise up modern day Apostle Pauls from within the ISIL ranks.

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