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China Is Open—For Business and More

As a cross-cultural worker currently residing in China, I have been asked multiple times over the last few years some variation of the following:

I hear China is now closed. Is that true?

When I hear this, I chuckle a little. After all, they are asking me while I’m in China! So aside from the obvious fact that I’m writing this from China, I think they are related questions that deserve a few quick answers.

First, what do people mean by “closed”? I believe what most people mean by this is something like:

We can no longer do things in China the way we used to do them.

This is true. Full stop.

But it absolutely does not mean that we can’t do anything. Christians are coming here from around the world, to live and share the love of Christ with the people here, right now!

Can People Come to China Now?

Thousands or tens of thousands of foreigners gather each week at international churches or in homes throughout the country. They are here. If they are here, with more arriving, the country is not closed.

We cannot do all of what was done before, but the list of things we can do is far longer than the list of things we can’t, so much so that I couldn’t begin to write a full list of possibilities here.

Should People Come to China Now?

This has at least three layers.

First, should people go anywhere at all? I assume most of those reading this don’t need a lesson in missiology at that level. Simple answer, yes.

Second, should they go to a place like China? What do I mean by “like China”? I mean a country of over a billion people, where many people still have very little idea about Christ, where many of the largest Bible-less people groups are, and where there is a vibrant church that wonders at times if the rest of the world has forgotten about them.

If it wasn’t for news, politics, and history, if this was a new country we had recently discovered, I can’t help but think that we would immediately march to our conference rooms and whiteboards to draft strategies and create organizations and initiatives to reach such a place.

It may be helpful to come at China with fresh eyes, as a new challenge, rather than as an old field that has dried up.

Third, should they come to China now? I can’t say that I don’t think about what greater conflict with other nations would mean for my family and friends here. It can be scary to think about. I also won’t pretend it’s not hard to live here. Covid was tremendously costly to us as we missed significant events in our sending country and many of our fellow foreigners and local friends left. Security concerns keep us from activities we might otherwise gladly participate in.

And, we feel very little of the global political tensions on a daily basis. There are more opportunities to build relationships and have impact than we have time for—come help us! Our daily living is generally pleasant, and people are generally curious and kind.

Even if political tensions mean you feel it’s not the right time for you or your organization to engage more with China, what about our brothers and sisters from other countries with more friendly relationships with China? How might you use your experience and passion to support and encourage them? More on that below.

How Can People Come to China?

For individuals:

  • Teach. If you’re an educator, the opportunities are immense. K-12 schools are hiring, and there are hundreds of openings for educators with credentials and two years of experience.
  • Do business. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, there are people here working across industries and professions. The economy is full of question marks, but those questions create interesting opportunities.
  • Serve. There are also opportunities in medicine, foreign service, and other kinds of service.
  • Study. Universities are accepting foreign students again and language training centers have been given permission to grant student visas.

A few suggested directions for organizations:

Mobilize the nations!

  • Many of those who are coming into China these days are not from the USA. This is a great opportunity to leverage your global networks to encourage people from all over to come and bless the people here.
  • Many of the opportunities above are paid or include scholarships, removing one of the primary burdens for people from the global south to serve cross-culturally.
  • This also means you can (and may need to) move faster than previously. A new teacher hired this month will start teaching in August.

Actively and selflessly support.

  • You have so much to add with your mobilization networks, cross-cultural ministry experience, and on the ground connections here.
  • Who you are and what you’ve learned will be needed by those who come, as many will not have cross-cultural ministry training.

Build the plane while you fly it.

  • Most of the opportunities I’ve described above probably don’t fit your traditional financial model (that is, how you survive as an organization), or how you prepare people.
  • I ask you to trust God for the same thing all of us trust him for out here—that he is good, and that if we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, all these things will be added to us as well.

Come. Send someone over to see what’s possible. You can do that again now.

China is open for business, and a lot more. What is God calling you to do with that information? What might you try?

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Emmett Concord

Emmett Concord (pseudonym) is an experienced cross-cultural worker and businessman currently living in China. His passion is leadership development and care for cross-cultural workers of all kinds.View Full Bio

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