(THIS IS CHINA-21) December 20, 2018 – Chapter 20 from THIS IS CHINA

thisischinacover

PERSONAL NOTE: I decided to share my book with many friends and students in mainland China because the book is not available in mainland China. It costs too much to order a copy from USA. Enjoy it and share it with your friends. Steve, usa, december 20, 2018  stephenehling@hotmail.com   https://getting2knowyou-china.com

 

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Chapter 20

In Fuqing, grandpa’s original house is still standing. A wooden cross and a picture of Jesus Christ (instead of a picture of Chairman Mao in many living rooms still) greeted me as I entered the front door to my aunt’s house, now inhabited by his son who is my cousin brother, and his wife. Cousin’s five adult children with their children live in the city of Fuzhou, chasing after money and materialism. They do what everyone is doing in modern China: chasing after money, money, and more money. Like going deep down a bottomless pit! I was told grandpa used to live in this old building. There were no modern high-rise apartments anywhere near the village, but I could see clusters of homes everywhere, a mix of the old and the new multi-story structures. As usual there is a small courtyard in front of the family home, and a small plot to grow their favorite easy-to-grow vegetables. Because of the limited availability of arable land, I saw small patches of vegetables around family dwellings, and here and there vegetables grown on the sides of the country roads, along the side walls of buildings, in villages and in small towns in many parts of China. Sometimes, anywhere residents can find some useful and fertile dirt to grow something, and there are chickens and some ducks that freely and happily roam in their universe.

Grandpa’s rather huge grave—the only one on a sprawling piece of barren land—is a walking distance from the house he had once lived in, with a new addition to it, and now occupied by my cousin brother and his wife. When I was shown his grave or tomb…I could not believe my eyes. That might explain why the family in China had built this rather gigantic tomb in his honor…he had accumulated some wealth by then.

I would soon learn that tomb robbing is making a comeback in China, especially if you live in northern China, historically the oldest parts of China, especially in quiet areas in the countrysides. There is obviously a global demand for Chinese antiquities, encouraging more professional and amateur thieves to loot for treasures buried inside old tombs, resulting in permanent destruction of numerous Chinese cultural heritage sites. China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage reported 103 tomb-raidings in 2016. Eight out of every ten tombs have been plundered. Provinces in the north like Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan, rich in imperial cultural heritage, suffered the most. I doubt thieves would find anything inside my grandpa’s huge tomb…in south China.

My aunt, who had died years ago, was a good Christian, and that was not common in communist China, because any religion would be considered one of the Four Olds Chairman Mao was determined to destroy, carried out by his famous Red Guards, to allow his modern communist ideas to grow, move forward and flourish. I remember

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reading, while in college, that man is an incurably religious animal. That if there is no god, they would create one! For this and other reasons, Chairman Mao did not succeed in destroying religious beliefs and practices throughout the length and breadth of China.

Today in modern China, many churches, including Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian temples, are being resurrected like the man they believe in, Jesus Christ, Buddha, or Confucius. Christianity is very much alive and kicking, as long as the churches are autonomous. That means the churches must essentially be Chinese and self-governing, divorced from the earlier Western domination and influence. As long as the churches have no ties to Western churches. In 1949, Chairman Mao became essentially not only the Father but God of the new communist nation. Your allegiance was to Mao, and Mao alone. Not to your parents, like in Confucian China. Stories abound about how some, once filial sons and daughters, reported on the activities—thought or perceived to be subversive or anti-communist—of their parents and betrayed them to the communist government. This kind of turning against your own parents is unheard of in Confucian China. The old Confucian families ceased to exist under Mao. Old families like old religions had no place in communist China. Western missionaries were kicked out, some imprisoned, because religion was considered the opium of the people. The American missionary principal of the interdenominational school I attended in Singapore, who could speak the Fuzhou dialect, wrote a book about his life as a prisoner in China, under Chairman Mao. The poor Pope in Rome is still trying to make his presence felt in China but to no avail (as of this writing). The cross and Jesus are alive in my cousin’s home. I deliberately avoided talking about my aunt and her Christian faith, still a very sensitive issue. Underground churches are still very much alive in some parts of China, so I was told, and also reported in the news.

In fact, I sent one particular student, Brian, from XMU to USA for one semester, and he was inspired and impressed by the American Christian churches, and now he is working and also preparing to join the Christian ministry in Shanghai. God is very much alive and works in strange places in China. But how long will it last? This is China.

While writing this book, I read that on May 6, 2014, China published its first National Security Research Report with a list of four greatest threats to national ideological security—reminding me of Mao’s Four Olds: religion, Western democracy, influence of Western culture, and the Internet with its proliferation of diversified information and public opinions. There exists at least one undetected loophole conspicuously exploited by college professors from the West: And that is using the Bible with its many stories and words of wisdom disguised as excellent source for the study of

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Western literature. Obviously China will not tolerate any perceived threats to its identity and its socialist values (even though socialism is a peculiarly German import). The most recent headline in a report by The Guardian, December 9, 2016, says it all: “Chinese authorities must intensify ideological controls on academia and turn universities into Communist party ‘strongholds’, President Xi Jinping has declared in a major address”. This is China.

I also read that in one particular locality in Wenzhou, Zheijiang Province, the local police are battling with the churches and they are tearing down the crosses outside the churches because they are breaking the local building codes. And why in Wenzhou? According to a news report, “Zhejiang Province has one of the largest Christian populations in China, and Wenzhou City, known as ‘Jerusalem of the East,’ has been a hub for Christian missionaries for centuries.” Others are saying some Chinese fear the return or rise of Christianity, an intruder to the Chinese culture and traditions. There are those in China today, against modern youth embracing everything that is Western and modern, from music to food to dance and clothing. There is a growing movement to ban all Western influences in the constructions of Western-style public buildings in China. There was opposition even during the staging of the 2008 Beijing Games, with some officials against many Western-style buildings erected for the purpose of the games. But in the eyes of some Olympic officials, the Olympic Games should reflect internationalism and globalization, with young people from all over the world here, to compete for their countries. “One World, One Dream” was the main slogan for the Beijing Summer Games 2008. I wonder what Deng Xiaoping would say or do if he is alive today, the man who started China on the irreversible path to modernity and internationalism and globalization.

The new China created by Deng Xiaoping allows me to come to work and live in China. When I met my cousin brother in the old family house in Fuqing, he had just retired working for the local government, and he is a staunch communist party member. I remember him wearing a thick gold ring, and he refused my hung-bao gift. He gathered all his family members—he has 5 adult children, one son and four daughters and a few grandchildren, one daughter working in Russia—for a big dinner at a Chinese restaurant to honor my presence. They were very proud that I was invited as a visiting professor at XMU, the only known university in China started by a man who made his fortunes in Singapore and Malaya in the 1930s. He knew my brother, now deceased, very well. Other members of my family had also frequented him during the last decade or so. My only embarrassment was I could not speak the Fuqing dialect anymore, after I left Kampong China village, where I grew up. After graduating from high school, I went to Singapore to seek a better life. After that I never did have a chance to speak the Fuqing dialect again. And David was there to

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translate my English into Putonghua, the modern language adopted by Chairman Mao when he created the new communist China, a language he hoped would unite all the peoples in China.

China boasts 56 ethnic groups speaking 56 different languages. According to Ethnologue, China has 297 living languages. The Map of Linguistic Groups in China includes the following categories: Official languages, Indigenous languages, Regional languages, Minority languages, Main foreign languages, and Sign languages. Putonghua or Mandarin Chinese is one of the six languages used by the United Nations today. The biblical Tower Of Babel reminds me of the diversity of spoken languages and dialects in China, mutually unintelligible, but united by the use of the same written characters (or words), transcending all cultural and geographical barriers and differences. They might not understand each other verbally, but they use and share the same common written characters or words in writing. This is China.

 

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