From the West Courtyard

From the West Courtyard—thoughts about working and serving in China from our staff and others with experience and insight to share. 

The name comes from a Chinese phrase that was taught in an early 1900s Chinese language curriculum, “有一个人,从西院子过来,”meaning “a man came over from the west courtyard." The idea of moving from west to east, of journeying between these two courtyards, reflects our desire to root our observations in the non-western context and allow the local Chinese context to determine what is culturally normative for life and work in China. 

Opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed by ChinaSource.   

Aug 3


A Conversation of Hidden Strength

by Joann Pittman

In 2000, a Chinese writer named Huo Shui wrote an article for the ChinaSource Quarterly titled “Living Wisely in China.” In it he takes a look at four essential elements of Chinese culture that westerners must grapple with (and hopefully get) in order to be effective in China.

The first one is taiji (tai-chi), the slow-motion martial art that is popular among people of all ages in China. Taiji requires inner strength and patience, both of which are required in order to accomplish things in China.

Jul 31

Reflections on a First Visit to Hong Kong

by Sas Conradie

Observations about Hong Kong, poverty, language barriers, generosity, and the church from a first time visitor.

Jul 29

Stewarding the Environment

China’s Energy Future

by Brent Fulton

Taking a look at the global implications of China's environmental crisis. 

Jul 27

Young People in China

by Joann Pittman

This past month has seen a flurry of articles written about the religious sentiments of Chinese youth, all triggered by the release of a survey conducted by the National Survey Research Center of the School of Philosophy at People’s University in Beijing. Many of the stories picked up the angle that Islam was the most popular religion, while others highlighted the growing popularity of religion in general among Chinese young people.

These stories actually prompt deeper questions about what life is like for youth in China today. What are Chinese youth like? What are the issues they wrestle with? How are they coping with the pressures of life? Are they really interested in spiritual matters?

Jul 22

When All Roads Lead to Beijing

by Brent Fulton

China’s foreign policy under Xi Jinping has witnessed a significant shift. Formerly focused on China’s relationship with the world’s major powers, China’s leaders are now redirecting their attention to relations with the nations around China, as well as to those nations beyond with which China seeks to develop closer economic ties.

Jul 17

Towards a Chinese Hospitality

by Carrie Smith

A family learns new ways to show hospitality and build relationships in China.

Jul 15

Continuing Class Struggle and the Politics of Religion in China

by Brent Fulton

In a recent post I wrote about the paradoxical treatment of religion in China’s Constitution. On the one hand, Article 36 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. On the other hand, the same article puts clear conditions on this freedom, making it subject to the needs of the state as defined by the Communist Party of China.

Jul 13

From Village to City

by Joann Pittman

Much has been written about China’s urbanization over the past three decades, as the rural/urban ratio has shifted from 80/20 to roughly 50/50.  Most of this urbanization has taken place as a result of millions of people picking up and moving from the countryside into the cities, leaving behind, in many cases empty villages or villages with only old people left.