Displaying items by tag: China
On 15 November, after concluding a four-hour meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Joe Biden expressed optimism about improving US-China relations. Key agreements were reached on reducing fentanyl production and restoring military communication. Biden described the talks as constructive and productive. The primary aim was to stabilise US-China relationships and prevent conflict through open communication, especially in the military domain. Biden emphasised the importance of China's commitment to control precursor chemicals for fentanyl, which has been causing a drug crisis in the US. Agreement on military communication and addressing potential miscalculations was seen as a significant step forward, a need highlighted by incidents like the Chinese ‘spy balloon’ over the USA in January. The talks were part of Biden's effort to make the relationship with China rational and manageable, avoiding conflict. However, he still maintains his opinion of Xi as a dictator.
In the turbulent period of the Cultural Revolution in China, Bibles were confiscated, and churches forcibly closed. However, the Bible's journey has now evolved from being an underground rarity to becoming a cherished bestseller. Since 1987, the presence of the Bible Society's Amity Press in Nanjing has been nothing short of remarkable. This facility, the largest Bible factory in the world, has produced an astounding 90 million Bibles for dissemination within China, and 140 million copies in various languages for global distribution. The open availability of the Bible through authorised channels has played a pivotal role in the astonishing growth of the Chinese Church. Lay leaders and devoted volunteers often step forward to bridge the leadership gap, particularly in less affluent regions where a single ordained pastor may serve more than six thousand Christians. The Chinese Church's ongoing growth reflects the abundant harvest that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 9:37, where the workers are indeed few but filled with boundless devotion.
On 1 September, new rules came into force to limit all religious activities to official venues only and forbid displaying any religious symbols outdoors. All religious activity must be supervised by the state so that places of worship support the leadership of China’s Communist Party. Release International’s Paul Robinson says the new rules are tantamount to a complete ban on Christianity, but in fact Christianity in China is growing. The number of Christians in China has long surpassed the membership of the Communist Party. ChinaAid said they have not seen the Communist Party as bold as they have been this summer in playing God and twisting how the Gospel is taught. The only correct perspective in the eyes of the Communist government is worship of the state and placing faith in Xi Jinping.
Kim Jong Un will visit Vladimir Putin in September; the USA is concerned they will discuss North Korea providing Moscow with weapons to use in Ukraine. An arms deal makes transactional sense. Moscow needs ammunition and artillery shells. Pyongyang has plenty of both. Sanction-starved North Korea needs money and food after three years of border closures. Also, the breakdown of talks with the USA has left North Korea more isolated than ever. The US has warned of an arms deal between the two countries for some time: now, a leader-level meeting between Kim and Putin catapults this into the next realm. Russia’s desperate situation means Mr Kim will be able to extract a high price. On 4 September, South Korea's intelligence service briefed that Russia's defence minister has suggested that Russia, China and North Korea hold joint naval drills, like those carried out by the USA, South Korea and Japan, which Kim Jong Un so detests.
We can pray into Putin’s situation as he tries to crack down on the increasing resistance by his ex-supporters, the nationalists. Their abandoning him falls in line with the growing war-weariness across Russia. Russian ultranationalist Igor Girkin was arrested after he criticised Vladimir Putin’s handling of the Ukraine war, calling for a transfer of power. He said online that the Russian army is no longer loyal to Putin; he expects the Ukrainian counteroffensive to break the Russian front. He also promised to form an opposition party of ‘angry patriots’ to save Russia from collapse. There are other nationalists and dissenters also criticising Putin’s handling of the war. Putin still depends on Wagner’s generals, which means a weakened Russian military and more mistrust. China supported Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Western sanctions gave Putin economic tensions. Now selling the Chinese yuan indicates his dependence on Beijing.
London’s Chinese embassy called Liz Truss’s trip to Taiwan a ‘dangerous political stunt’ which will bring nothing but harm to the UK. In a pre-briefed extract of her speech to the Prospect Foundation, Truss was expected to say, ‘Last summer Rishi Sunak described China as the biggest long-term threat to Britain, and he promised to close all thirty of UK’s Confucius Institutes, which promote Chinese culture on campus in higher education and in some British schools. Sunak was right; we need to see those policies enacted urgently. Confucius Institutes must close, and the service supplied by Hong Kong and Taiwanese nationals in the UK on a free basis.’ The embassy urged Truss to stop supporting ‘Taiwan independence’. Taiwan has been separate from the People’s Republic of China since 1949, but Beijing insists on reuniting Taiwan with the mainland, by force if necessary.
The worst April heatwave in Asian history is causing deaths and forcing schools to close. Temperatures of over 40C in Bangladesh have caused road surfaces to melt, and if the heat does not abate the ministry of environment will declare a temperature emergency. Six cities in India recorded temperatures above 44C. India has become particularly vulnerable to extreme heat recently; experts fear 2023 could be even worse. As temperatures and humidity soar, causing an orange severe heatwave warning, rural workers and labourers are forced to work outside. Weekend thunderstorms could abate conditions, but extreme heat is projected to continue into next week. Thailand has issued heatstroke health warnings and the high temperatures could continue beyond the usual summer months, causing drought and crop failure. China reported record-breaking temperatures for April in many locations, and over a dozen countries are experiencing similar problems. The death toll is expected to rise. Pray for the frail and elderly to drink enough fluids, including in the UK as meteorologists forecast an even hotter summer for us than in 2022.
8% of China’s population is Christian and Christianity is established in every province, but many do not have enough Bible knowledge. Rural areas still have a shortage of Bibles and Christian teaching. Pray for wise, godly leadership to be multiplied at every level in the Church and for Christians to be part of shaping China as the nation amasses wealth and political influence. The Church has many mature leaders, but needs more as the church grows. Pray for Christians to have integrity in a culture where corruption is a temptation. 200 years ago, Napoleon Bonaparte said, ’Let China Sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.’ This is being realised as China’s church is awakened by God’s Spirit. Pray for this to be a significant Christian movement with continuing growth. China is a significant global power, economically and militarily, pray for wise leaders to walk a path of peace.
French president Emmanuel Macron arrived on 6 April for a three-day state visit to China. President Xi Jinping greeted Macron on a huge red carpet lined by Chinese and French flags as the countries’ national anthems played. President Macron said, ‘The Russian aggression in Ukraine has dealt a blow to stability. I know I can count on you to bring back Russia to reason and everyone back to the negotiating table.’ Macron also said that Beijing can play a ‘major role’ in finding a path to peace in the conflict and welcomed China’s willingness to ‘commit to a resolution’. Macron, who was accompanied on his visit by the European Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, said he wants to ‘be a voice that unites Europe’ over Ukraine; coming to China with her served to ‘underline the consistency of this approach’.
The US, UK and Australia have unveiled details of their plan to create a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, aimed at countering China's influence in the Indo-Pacific region. Under the AUKUS pact Australia is to get its first three nuclear-powered submarines from the US. The allies will also work to create a new fleet using cutting-edge tech, including UK-made Rolls-Royce reactors. The deal will create thousands of jobs in the UK's Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, Derby and elsewhere. Beijing has strongly criticised the significant naval deal. Its foreign ministry accused the three nations of ‘walking further ‘down the path of error and danger.’ China's UN mission had earlier accused the Western allies of setting back nuclear non-proliferation efforts. Mr Biden said the deal would not jeopardise Australia's commitment to being a nuclear-free country.