Much has been written of China’s economic prowess and growing influence over the past two decades in the midst of a global economic meltdown. Many of us can still remember marveling at the 2008 Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Let’s face it – China has been on a roll.
But money and public relations aren’t everything.
There are also two-year-old girls.
Wang Yue is a toddler who was run over – twice – and ignored by at least 18 people as she lay in a pool of her own blood in a Guandong market last week.
The horrifying indifference was captured on a video watched by millions around the world, forcing the country’s leaders to acknowledge last Tuesday that the country’s “cultural development” lags behind its other accomplishments.
After a four-day closed-door meeting, the 200-plus member Central Committee of the Community Party issued a communiqué calling for the country to build a “powerful socialist culture” that would involve “significantly improving the nation’s ideological and moral qualities.” Earlier, senior Politburo member Li Changchun was quoted as saying “venality, lack of integrity and moral anomalies” were on the rise in Chinese society.
Wang Yue’s case was just the latest scandal in a country that has become increasingly accustomed to astonishing stories of wanton corruption, Internet scams, tainted baby food, and even child abductions with official involvement.
As Mark MacKinnon writes in Canada’s Globe and Mail, “Many see the Communist Party as having created the vacuum it now seeks to fill. Religion was crushed following the country’s 1949 Revolution, and the ideology that was supposed to replace it – Maoism – went out the window when the country undertook its economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. … They say they have a socialist value system, but no one knows what that means.”
Or as Bo Zhiyue, an expert on Chinese politics at the National University of Singapore observes, “No one believes in Marxism any more. Confucianism is not being revived, and the so-called Western universal values are not being accepted.”
Many in the West are aware of the church in China – both above and under ground; projections of its size vary widely, but there is little doubt it is immense – a conservative figure is 60 million. There are already more Chinese at a Christian church on Sunday than in the whole of Europe.
One of the great questions of our day is what faith will lead China once Marxism falls. Will it be authoritarianism, a national socialism, a type of Buddhism, or the powerful surfacing of the underground Christian church?
Sadly, little Yueyue, as the girl is known in China, lost the battle in intensive care on Friday and died from brain and organ failure.
Hopefully not like her country.
James Emery White
Link to the YouTube video.
“Chinese Toddler Ignored in Bloody Hit-and-Run Dies,” Associated Press, on Fox News, Friday, October 21, 2011. Read online.
“China’s ‘moral qualities’ need improving, leaders say,” Mark MacKinnon, The Globe and Mail, Wednesday, October 19, 2011, p. A11.
“Christians in China: Is the country in spiritual crisis?,” Tim Gardam, BBC News, September 11, 2011. Read online.
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About Dr. James Emery White
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; President of Serious Times, a ministry which explores the intersection of faith and culture (www.serioustimes.org); and ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture on the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. White holds the B.S., M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees, along with additional work at Vanderbilt University and Oxford University. He is the author of over a dozen books.
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