ROC National Celebration Day (雙十節)

Today is National Day (Double Ten Day) for the first republic in all of Asia, born in a time when the rest of the continent was under the Japanese emperor, the Ottoman sultan, the king of Siam and the colonial powers of Europe. As such, it is appropriate for me to direct the reader to China Emergent, penned by Madame Chiang Kai-shek for Time magazine, May 1942. Even when I feel cynical, I still desire such things to be realized. Perhaps I’m a compulsive anti-pragmatist: not that things do not have to work but that they must be worth something.

So what is the state and the destiny of the Middle Kingdom?

Let me not only speak about the future of China but also share something about the faith of the cross that refreshed me, because the two are intertwined, surely even more than I know. For it is not the cross-strait politics per se that most concern me but the future of the people on either side, whether unified or separate. Thus for me Taiwan independence would be an issue of self-determination under exercise of wisdom, and unification would be an issue of preserving God-given liberties for the sake of His justice. It is about God and His love that I must speak, through the lens of China’s right to freedom.

China’s Dream, China’s Sorrow

起來!
不願做奴隸的人們!
把我們的血肉,
築成我們新的長城!
中華民族到了
最危險的時候,
每個人被迫着
發出最後的吼聲。
起來!起來!起來!
我們萬眾一心,
冒着敵人的炮火,前進!
冒着敵人的炮火,前進!
前進!前進!進!

Who still believes in forging such a future for China? For it is not only Taiwan whose blessings of liberty ought to be secured for the people and their posterity. Ninety-four years has this dream been embodied in the ethos of the Chinese Republic from the Wuchang uprising, fifty-eight years denied to those under the heel of the regime that executed the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

There Must be More than This

Yes, I continue to be unabashedly a supporter of free republics, of human rights, of liberty of conscience. It is true that the CCP no longer pursues a Marxist “ideal”, but it continues to use Marxist means to deprive the Chinese people of her rights. This is a sick system that not only seizes land from citizens, which itself would be a symptom bad enough of the disease that afflicts the land (no pun intended), but ignores freedom of religion and freedom of the press.

Yes, it is possible now to “get rich” in China, but it happens all too often that those who are rich are really poor, while even the poor man can be rich in pure joy that is found in the hope of the heavenly city. May the people be awakened ever more to the things of God, the things that will last where moth and rust do not destroy.

I believe in the dream of President Sun Yat-sen for China to be a free country. Yes, God has worked in spite of continued and sustained persecution of the Chinese church from those who lustfully hold on to their power, sometimes more subtle than other times, but it is better for the people as a whole too not to be deceived and for their children not to be slaughtered in the womb. A free nation is one that seeks to know the Truth under a freedom to pursue truth. This is what I ask of God through every year for the home of my forefathers.

But I am often discouraged by what I see of the wanton greed in the hearts of the weak race of men, greed that will blind us to both what is evil and what is true and beautiful, deafen us to both the groans of the sin-bound spirit and the music of the grace-freed heart, dull us to both the bitter gall of slavery and the sweet taste of liberty.

Hope of Freedom that will Lead to True Freedom

But I hold out hope for the country whose people I can never stop loving, however frustrated I become by their succumbing to the distractions that this world offers them that stand in the way of a search for the truth I know is held in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Times are changing: where the message of Christ was formerly held overwhelmingly in the hearts of rural peasants, it is even now penetrating into the darkness of the cities (HT: Pastor Ken).

This is no small change. Radio Free Asia reports in China’s Urban Christians an Unknown Quantity for Beijing,

Christianity is gaining new converts in Chinese cities and towns, especially among the newly emerging and assertive professional class, and the trend is causing the ruling Communist Party some concern, experts say.” (Keep reading →)

China expert Scott Flipse elaborates that China now has “more high-level, highly educated, highly trained lawyers, writers, intellectuals speaking out than ever before—as self-identified Christians or as defenders of religious freedom plus other related human rights.”

The Fear of the Communist Party, and the Vanity of Its Decree

Caveat adversatus: let Satan tremble in Gehenna. Yes, if the Chinese Communist Party will insist on opposing truth, then it is not without cause that they worry. The RFA article quoted above notes:

A new get-rich-quick philosophy in China “has led to huge corruption and dishonesty in the production of goods,” said [David] Aikman, former Time magazine bureau chief in China and author of the book Jesus in Beijing.

“China’s Communist Party keeps saying that it is struggling for the creation of a ‘harmonious society,’” Aikman said. “But it doesn’t know how to create a harmonious society.”

The “harmonious society” that emanates from Beijing, that old imperial capital, is sterile, dead, useless (1 Cor. 12.2). It may be that people are beginning to see that. The reign of Deng Xiaoping brought great economic abundance to a few. The great nations of the West saw it as economic liberalization that must bring about political reform. They were wrong. Their neo-liberal ideology had deceived them. There was such a spirit, but it was symbolically quashed in a day in 1989.

Faith: in the World, not of the World

“The people who are taking the lead now in proposing not just political change in China, but moral change, are the Christian intellectuals—the lawyers, the professors, the writers.”
– Author David Aikman

Now the fore of it is with the people of the cross, even as the message of Christ reaches back from the remote parts of China’s interior to the throbbing veins of her cities.

Who knew that rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who “has been detained, kept under surveillance and sentenced to a jail term after he represented the underdogs in sensitive political cases” (RFA), was a committed Christian? Not only this, but his commitment to fighting for justice in the legal system flows out of the morality and compassion of his faith. But the Chinese media does not report this. Surprisingly, even the Chinese church does not report it. Is this silence from fear of acknowledging Christ as Lord of politics as well as everything else? I hope not. Nevertheless, praise GodAlhamdulillah, I say for people who will stand up for what is right, who will advocate for the oppressed, who will reflect the glory of the One and Only in their steps of faith!

And Gao Zhisheng is not alone. This gives me great joy, that the community of Christ’s followers in China are not only active in explaining the gospel (Acts 8.26-40) and persevering in the face of persecution (1 Pet. 12.19; Ja. 1.2-18) but at the same time living out the faith (Ja. 1.19-26; 2.14-26) even in high-profile cases that come with heightened agitation in the ranks of the regime. I think I am beginning to understand what Alexander Fraser Tyler says in Cycle of Democracy:

The average of the world’s great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage.

Now, this does not always happen in the way one would expect. Deng Xiaoping short-circuited this cycle from bondage straight to abundance that kept many people ultimately in bondage. But now, even more than in the 1980s, yes, even those times when the Soviet puppets in Poland were toppled and the people liberated in conjunction with the influence of the Vatican, now is a time of spiritual faith.

We see the struggle for liberty in Burma. News of it is across the realm of Facebook.

But those who sleep are awakening in China, and the hope of the heavenly city is more powerful still:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Heb. 11.8-10)

It is a breakthrough for the nation’s awareness of Christ when the gospel has penetrated deep enough into the urbs that one of the most well-known politically surveilled people scorns the known danger for the sake of Christ in pursuit of God’s heart (urbana.org).

It is, I believe, a sign of a rising tide of witness, in my father’s words, “powerful and large-scale enough to win the [good] reputation among the population, [enough] that people will associate morality and compassion with Christians”. Thus faith lived out supports the word of the faith, and the word of the faith produces faith lived out.

Take Heart!

It has been over fifty years, but, as The Battle Hymn of the Republic says, “His truth is marching on”; and it takes not a physical battle for this to be true. Try as he might, the enemy of God will fail.

Let our hope be found in God and His city above, and may the vision of His glory drive us to subcreate, to borrow a word from Tolkien, something that points to the greater glory of YHWH the One and Only.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing and honour, glory and pow’r be unto Him, be unto Him, that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever, amen.

O Lord, come (1 Cor. 16.22)! Amen.

Share your thoughts about the future of China’s people by commenting below. 🙂

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One response to “ROC National Celebration Day (雙十節)

  1. Pingback: Avoid Idolizing the Populus « Cogito, Credo, Petam

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