Unfortunately, the Taiwan Strait has been in the news a lot lately. As the body of water that separates mainland China from Taiwan, it quickly becomes the flashpoint when tensions rise between the two sides or between the People’s Republic of China and the United States. When leaders from Taiwan meet with high level US officials (such as the speaker of the House of Representatives), China engages in military exercises around the island.
Sitting on the eastern side of the strait are the major Taiwan cities of Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. On the western side of the strait, less than 200 miles away, is the city of Xiamen (厦门), meaning “door to the house.”
While the history of the city dates back to the Song Dynasty, it began its rise in 1842 when it was included as one of the five treaty ports ceded to the British following the First Opium War. Xiamen, which was referred to by its name in the local Hokkien language—Amoy—became one of the main centers of both foreign trade and western Protestant missionary activity.
The earliest Protestant missionary work there was done by the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and the London Missionary Society. It was the RCA that built the oldest Protestant Church in China. If you want to dive into the growth of Christianity in the city, I recommend Protestantism in China: Then and Now, by Chris White.
In the 1980s Xiamen was one of the first cities in China to be named as a special economic zone as part of Deng Xiaoping’s Open and Reform Policy. Today the city has a population of close to four million and is the eighth largest port in the nation. In addition to its port, other key industries include electronics manufacturing and financial services.
Our friends at China Partnership have put together a prayer guide for Xiamen, including messages from two local pastors.
Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio
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