By Leilani Corpus
Published June 1, 1989
The drama unfolding in the People’s Republic of China before the watching world is not only setting the stage for a political revolution … it is signaling a spiritual awakening of massive proportions. Influenced by a fast-growing Christian revival, as well as by the Christian ideas of Western democracy, Chinese young people are now questioning Marxist ideology – and they are making it clear to their elders that they are willing to die for their beliefs.
Ever since the Cultural Revolution, youth under age 18 have not been allowed to attend an official church, read the Bible, or be baptized. The combination of a lack of spiritual values, discontent with the tenets and ideas of the Communist Party, and increasing openness to Western ideas, is now driving the youth and workers alike to the streets of Beijing to demonstrate for democracy.
A Beijing missionary who was imprisoned for 10 years in a labor camp for his beliefs said recent events in China are an encouraging sign of increasing openness to Christianity. The missionary, who could not disclose his name, helped start several underground “fellowships” on Beijing campuses. Although the pro-democracy movement is not yet inundated by Christians, he said the youth are “opening up their minds.” Chinese Christians are supportive of the new movement.
The last few months of protest has been considered one of the most extraordinary events to be witnessed in any Communist country, and “the biggest display of defiance in the 40-year history of Communist China,” according to the Washington Post. “This was a major breakthrough in modern Chinese history,” said Roderick Macfarquahar, director of Harvard’s Fairbank Center for East Asian Research. He said it was the first time since 1949 that a demonstration by society against the state was made successfully in the face of a powerful government.
The recent carnage in Beijing left an estimated 3000 people dead and 12,000 wounded, and plunged the nation into massive upheaval. According to latest reports a key army unit was fighting against another unit.
Students told reporters that soldiers stacked the bodies killed in Tiananmen Square into a pile, doused them with gasoline and cremated them, which made it impossible to identify the bodies or keep a tally of the dead.
A price is being paid for demonstrating. After General Secretary Zhao Zinyang indicated his support for the students, he was put under house arrest. He also made a comment on national television about political reform needing to be in step with economic reform. After a week of being under arrest, Zhao was reinstated in his position. Some observers have said that Chairman Deng Xiaoping was using Zhao as a scapegoat. Zhao was reported as saying to a student on a hunger strike, “I came too late, too late. I should be criticized by you.”
The student-led protest forced officials to alter Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s schedule during the historic Sino-Soviet Summit in May, although the students indicated in a letter that they supported Gorbachev’s reforms in the Soviet Union. Gorbachev didn’t take sides in the hunger strike or the demonstrations, but he told a Chinese reporter that the demonstrations made him “nervous,” and urged officials to negotiate a settlement of the crisis.
In the second massive demonstration, Chinese government staff and workers joined the students for the first time. “With corrupt internal affairs, how can we talk about foreign affairs?” said a banner carried by staff members of the Foreign Ministry. Workers were warned for several weeks not to participate in marches because they could lose their jobs. But the threats did not stop them. “We support the students and are not afraid of being fired,” chanted workers from a Beijing heavy crane factory. They were joined by workers from several hotels and soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army who left their detachment to join the demonstration. “If your sister or brother were in the square, what would you do?” one of the soldiers told the Washington Post.
“Give me Liberty or Give me Death”
The sons and daughters of intellectuals and government officials who are members of the Communist party have started one of the largest movements for democracy in recent Chinese history – a movement which has grown in the last few months from being a nuisance to a catalyst for splits within the Beijing leadership. As an Associated Press reporter wrote, “They are (China’s) future scientists, writers, teachers and diplomats. And they are calling for a new China, one that is democratic, one with a free press and one that respects human rights.”
One of the student movement’s most prominent spokesmen, Wuerkiaxi, said he could be sentenced to jail for 10 years or death. But he says he cannot stop mobilizing opposition to corruption, bureaucracy, and the lack of democracy. His father, a communist cadre who edits and writes for a living, cries for his son everyday and urges him to stop his rebellious activities. Wuerkiaxi’s sentiments regarding the party are a reflection of a new generation of Chinese youth.
Another student, the son of a county official in China’s northwest, says, “This is not the China that I want to be a part of.” Li Quiang grew up with privileges due to his father’s position in the party: “There were big meals, TV sets. We never paid for anything. Last month we got a new video [VCR]; now we have three,” he said. “I didn’t think this was strange until I left home and found out that governments aren’t supposed to work like that.” One of his classmates, the daughter of a doctor, agreed with Li: “I know I don’t understand democracy. But my worry now is not with the future, it’s with the present. We have a system that is rotten.”
While Gorbachev and Deng negotiated at the Sino-Soviet Summit, thousands of students from at least 18 campuses and several other cities jammed into Tiananmen Square for a hunger strike. The demonstration was the climax of protest activity which started in April with over 150,000 students marching on the square, the symbolic center of Beijing, to demand democratic reforms.
Prior to the hunger strike, students led an 11-day campaign which began spontaneously as a 10-mile march from Beijing University to Tiananmen Square. Shouting “Rang kai, rang kai,” (“Give way! Give way!”) through a barricade of over 100 police and a battalion of soldiers, student delegations from over 30 campuses poured into the square bearing signs trumpeting their demands for more democracy, less corruption, and accurate press coverage.
They were cheered on by crowds of office workers who lined the streets, climbed trees, threw food, and blocked troops from approaching them. Thousands of non-students also joined them despite official warnings. Beijing residents said the army and security forces had made their greatest show of force in recent memory. “We all want political change,” a middle-aged office worker told Newsweek. “We are all fed up with the government’s mistakes.”
The students and workers were responding to a scathing editorial published in The People’s Daily which denounced the movement by saying they were creating a conspiracy to “poison people’s minds, create national turmoil and sabotage the nation’s political stability.” Days before the Beijing march, 10,000 local party leaders gathered in the Great Hall of the People and listened to a tape of Deng’s announcement that, “We must crack down on these students whatever the cost.” He was quoted as saying, “I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to spill blood. But if we have to do so, then we will.”
But the students still nervously rallied. “Without democracy, it would be better to be dead,” said a 26-year-old graduate student of politics. Another student shouted, “We’ve been under a communist system for 40 years, and we’re still living in hell! Why can they have democracy in America, and we can’t have it here?” On an ABC newscast, Chinese students read a line from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal …”
Revolution and Revival
The ideas which fomented revolution within the hearts of the Chinese students were from various Western writers and civil rights activists. On several banners were emblazoned slogans from Patrick Henry, such as his famous cry , “Give me Liberty or Give me Death!” Considering themselves patriots, the students quoted Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson as well as the Chinese Constitution.
“Certainly there is a generous mix of ingredients fueling Chinese discontent,” said David Hardin, a senior news analyst. “There is the Gorbachev model of political reforms within a communist state – surely the envy of would-be Chinese reformers. There is, in a manner that cannot be calculated, the influence of thousands of Chinese who have studied abroad – some 40,000 are currently attending U.S. colleges – and who have returned with their quotes from Patrick Henry.”
But it is not only political revolution brewing among Chinese youth. A spiritual revival is underway. After Hu Yaobang was ousted, government policy towards church activities became more restrictive. Conservative Maoist forces within the Communist Party campaigned against Western influences and, as a result, several Christians were persecuted.
Despite the repressive measures, such as the state policy which does not allow youth under 18 to attend church activities, some young people have been arrested and beaten for preaching the Christian gospel. Ever-increasing numbers of Chinese are being drawn to Christianity. Not only is the political conscience of the students being awakened, especially by writings from the West, but their curiosity about Christian values is being aroused like never before. The world is now seeing the truth of the words of the Apostle Paul written in the First Century: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3:17). The great outpouring of the Holy Spirit which has been taking place in China in recent years is now manifesting itself in the political realm.
In many provinces, young Chinese are laying down their lives for the gospel. An example is a 14-year-old girl who was senselessly beaten for preaching. Leona Choy, a missionary, described the scene to Christian Mission: “When she revived, she sensed that her beating had won the sympathy of many onlookers. So she began to preach some more. Her words were few and her voice low, but what she said penetrated hearts. The people began crying out, repenting of their sins, and asking Jesus to save them,” Choy said.
Ten young Christian men and women went to a commune to preach but were dragged and beaten by police with electric shock sticks. “The power of God came forth as they preached with tears streaming down their faces. Passers-by and street vendors, Christians and non-Christians alike, stood and listened. People came under conviction. Even the fortune tellers were moved by the Holy Spirit and burst into sobs. Many forgot their food, their work, or even to return home.”
Choy told Christian Mission, “Even though the young preachers were exhausted, the crowd would not let them quit. As shops closed and factories let out, hundreds of employees joined the crowd. This was too much for the authorities. They laid hands on the preachers, dragged them away one by one, bound them with ropes, and began beating them. They slapped their faces with shoes and knocked them unconscious. But every time the young people came to, they resumed praying, singing and preaching.”
This type of determination and resolve is apparently at the root of the Chinese student uprising. A Beijing missionary said that the student movement is “definitely beneficial for Christians. Religious activity is under state control, but the police are too busy dealing with political demonstrations to exercise church control.” Since the Communists came to power in China, Christianity has grown exponentially. “There are 30 to 50 times more Christians,” said one Beijing source. “There are 30 to 50 million Christians, and we’re definitely seeing a revival among the underground churches.”
What will be the final outcome? It is most likely that within a few more years the repressive communist system in China will be quietly swallowed up by the growing Christian movement. A new generation of young Chinese leaders, motivated by new-found ideas of Christian liberty and individual freedom, will then begin to construct a new society built on Christian principles.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » China
Your comments are welcome!
Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion
This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.
Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.
“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan
Running time: 85 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“… a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the Free Study Guide!
God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?
Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?
Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?
These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)