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China’s Next Big Thing

ChinaSource Senior Vice President Joann Pittman recently sat down with Ted Esler, President of Missio Nexus, to talk about the cultural shifts and changes taking place in China. Their wide-ranging discussion is captured in this podcast, available from Missio Nexus.

Ted started off the conversation by asking about the “big things” that people need to be aware of when it comes to serving in China. Depending on where and how one serves, the answers to this question could be numerous. Yet, as Joann pointed out in her response, the “big thing” driving much of what we see today is a marked shift under President Xi Jinping toward greater social control. This shift affects all areas of life—not just religion—although its effects are certainly being felt among Christians in China, whether local or foreign.

Seen through the lens of this overall shift, individual events and trends in China start to come into clearer focus. Joann and Ted unpacked several of these in the course of their conversation as they addressed these questions:

  • Is the church still growing in the current environment?
  • Are there new restrictions on the availability of Bibles?
  • Are we experiencing a “nationwide” crackdown on Christianity?
  • Which areas of the country are experiencing the greatest restrictions? Why?
  • How is it affecting agencies that send foreign workers to China?
  • How does the “One Belt, One Road” initiative fit into Xi’s overall vision?
  • How have Western predictions about economic freedom in China been fulfilled (or not)?
  • What about the crackdown on ethnic minorities in Xinjiang?

Joann prefaced her response to this last question with, “Like most questions about China, it’s complicated . . .”

China is complicated. Good questions about China beget more questions. Sorting out the complexity is not easy, but for someone wanting to get a handle on the key trends shaping China and impacting China’s church, this podcast is a great place to start.

Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton is the founder of ChinaSource. Dr. Fulton served as the first president of ChinaSource until 2019. Prior to his service with ChinaSource, he served from 1995 to 2000 as the managing director of the Institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College. From 1987 to 1995 he served as founding …View Full Bio

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