Chinese Church History
635 A.D. ~ Nestorians
Nestorian missionaries first bring the gospel to China. Clothed largely in Buddhist terms, it is not easily distinguishable from existing Chinese religions, and relies heavily on imperial support. When favor is withdrawn several hundred years later, Nestorian Christianity disappears.
1294 ~ Franciscans
Franciscan missionary John of Monte Corvino spearheads a new thrust of gospel witness in China. The Franciscans report 100,000 converts by the time of Monte Corvino's death. However, their inability to adequately translate the Scriptures into Chinese and a lack of reinforcement from Europe prevent the movement from making a lasting impact on China.
1582 ~ Jesuits
Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci arrives in China. Following eighteen years of travel and language study he reaches Beijing, where he is well received by the imperial court due to his humility and respect for the Chinese people. He not only shares with the Chinese his scientific knowledge, which they desire, but also the gospel, which gains popularity among China's scholar-officials.
1722 ~ Ancestor Worship Controversy
In response to the "Rites Controversy", a dispute which arose among Jesuit, Franciscan and Dominican missionaries about whether Chinese converts should be allowed to perform the traditional rituals showing respect to their ancestors, the Pope decrees that no such rituals should be permitted.
1724 ~ Emperor
The emperor's response to the above decree is to forbid the propagation of the Christian faith in China. Most missionaries have to leave as a result.
1807 ~ Modern Missions Effort Begins
Robert Morrison, an Englishman working as a translator for the British East India Company, becomes the first Protestant missionary to China. A dedicated student of the Chinese language and prolific writer, Morrison translates the Bible into Chinese within twelve years. Since missionaries can only venture into China for short periods of time, they establish operations in the countries surrounding China, building a "wall of light", in preparation for the day when they will be able to enter China itself.
1843 ~ Opium War Entry
Following the First Opium War, missionaries gain access to certain treaty ports on China's eastern seaboard.
1853 ~ Hudson Taylor
James Hudson Taylor arrives in China as a missionary.
1856-1858 ~ Doors Pushed Open Wide
Additional treaties open Mainland China to foreign trade and missionary activity. Numerous Western mission societies begin sending personnel to China.
1866 ~ New Agencies Established
James Hudson Taylor establishes the China Inland Mission (CIM).
1900 ~ Rebellion Against Foreigners
The Boxer Rebellion, a popular uprising against perceived foreign domination in China, results in the deaths of hundreds of missionaries and thousands of Chinese Christians. One third of all CIM missionaries perish.
1911 ~ Overthrow of the Qing Dynasty
A revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen ends Manchurian rule and establishes a democratic republic in China. Dynastic rule comes to an end; chaos results as revolutionary forces battle one another for power.
1912-1927 ~ Warlord Era
The central government of the newly formed republic breaks down and the country breaks up into regions controlled by local warlords. The government (led by the Nationalists) of the Republic of China exists in name only. China is not a unified country; poverty, starvation, economic stagnation and civil war ensue.
1919 ~ May Fourth Movement
This nationalist student movement protests the Japanese takeover of German colonial areas following WWI. It is also a movement calling for the modernization/Westernization of Chinese society and politics. It includes a critical look at culture by intellectuals and an anti-colonial sentiment movement to boot the foreigners out of the "concession areas" rising nationalism.
1919 ~ New Translation of Bible
The Union Version Chinese Bible is published. This will remain the standard Chinese translation for the remainder of the century and into the 21st century as well.
1921 ~ Chinese Communist Party Founded
The Party is founded in Shanghai with one of its aims being to drive out the foreigners and reunite China. It wants to cooperate with the Nationalists to accomplish this goal.
1922 ~ Persecution
Amidst growing resentment of the missionaries and increasing anti-Western sentiment, the anti-Christian Federation is formed.
1931-1935 ~ Japanese Invade Manchuria
The Japanese take over the three northeastern provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang.
1934-1935 ~ The Long March
After being driven out of their bases in Jiangxi Province by the attacking Nationalist army, the Red army begins a 3,000 mile march as far west as Sichuan, eventually ending in Yannan, Shaanxi Province. The CCP gains popular support, especially among the poor rural masses as they outrun the Nationalist forces and prove they are a force to be reckoned with.
1946-1949 ~ Civil War Resumes
Following the defeat of Japan, the Communists and the Nationalists resume their fight for control of China. In 1949, the Nationalists are defeated and retreat to the island province of Taiwan. On October 1, 1949, the PRC is founded. "China stands up" and throws off foreign domination; the CCP wins the war. What is left of the Republic of China is today's Taiwan.
1957 ~ Hundred Flowers Campaign
Mao encourages the CCP to be more open to outsiders and other ideas. Intellectuals see it as a chance to urge the CCP to reform and air some grievances. There is much criticism of Party corruption and privileges. After a couple of months, the CCP decides that it has heard enough and turns on those who have spoken out, branding them as "rightists." Over 300,000 are persecuted (sent to jail, labor camps or the countryside). An entire generation of intellectuals is sidelined. There is near destruction and total demoralization of the intellectual classan illustration of the problem China's rulers have always had with intellectuals.
1958 ~ Great Leap Forward
Mao's mass campaign to jumpstart the revolution following disappointing production on new cooperative farms (communes). In an article in February, he calls for a technological revolution to pass Great Britain in 15 years. The countryside is collectivized and everyone is encouraged to build backyard furnaces. Everything looks rosy the first year, but the reality is different. Peasants are making poor quality steel and not growing food. That, combined with bad weather, leads to crop failure and a famine, which kills 30+ million people. Major changes occur in Chinese society: collectivization of family structure; big projects change the landscape of China; cities are transformedBeijing looses her city walls.
1966-1976 ~ Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
Ten-year period of "chaos". Its purpose is to give a new generation the experience of revolution. It is actually an outcome of a power struggle between Mao and CCP leadership. Characteristics: mass rallies, closing of schools and colleges, persecution of intellectuals, near civil war, near economic collapse, decimation of the intellectual class, "a lost generation", upheaval in the countryside, industrial stagnation, psychological and emotional scars on the psyche of individuals, may never again be able to mobilize the masses to achieve political aims.
1972 ~ Nixon in China
United States President Nixon pays a visit to China ending 23 years of open hostility and no contact. This sets the stage for China to return to the international community.
1976 ~ Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai Die
China's "sun" and "moon" are both gone. The "Gang of Four" briefly tries to take power but are arrested and purged by Deng. The Mao era comes to an end.
1978 ~ The Open Door
Deng Xiao-ping's open door policy ends China's isolation from the rest of the world. Out of China comes the miraculous story of unprecedented church growth in the midst of persecution. Foreign Christians are once again able to enter Chinanot as traditional Missionaries but, rather, as servants among
1989 ~ Student Movement
A student movement that begins as an outpouring of grief and support of deceased (and recently purged) Party Secretary Hu Yao-bang. It becomes a movement protesting economic difficulties and official corruption. The government cracks down hard on the protesters. Economic reforms and many new freedoms are put on hold. Foreign investment dries up as the international community protests the harsh treatment of the students and the killing of many Beijing citizens. The CCP loses a significant amount of legitimacy.
1992 ~ Deng Xiao-ping Visits Guangdong Province
Deng pays a visit to the booming region, especially the Special Economic Zone of Shenzhen and declares his ten-year experiment with economic reforms to be a success. He urges the rest of the country to pursue a move towards a market-oriented economy. The door to the outside world opens even wider; the current economic boom begins; everyone focuses on making money.
1997 - February ~ Deng Xiao-ping Dies
Deng dies leaving his handpicked successor, Jiang Zemin, at the head of the collective leadership. This is significant as for the first time since 1949, leaders who did not take part in the Revolution rule China. There is a successful leadership transition.
1997-July ~ Hong Kong reverts to China Sovereignty
After 150+ years of being under British rule, China regains sovereignty of Hong Kong, one of the world's most successful cities and the financial center of Asia. In terms worked out with the British in 1984, HK becomes a "Special Administrative Region", and China promises not to tamper with its system for 50 years under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", The Chinese view it as an end of 150 years of humiliation by foreigners. China hopes for successful implementation of "One Country, Two Systems", in the hope of persuading Taiwan to reunite with the Mainland under similar conditions. Despite fears of restrictions on religious activities, church life is not affected.
1997 - October ~ 15th Congress of Communist Party
The Party affirms the position of Jiang Zemin as the undisputed leader of the Party and the State and proposes broader economic reforms including the eventual breakup of the system of state-run enterprises. Jiang emerges as firmly in charge; the coming reforms will mean many bankruptcies and joblessness.
1997 - November ~ President Jiang Zemin Visits US
At the invitation of Bill Clinton, President Jiang pays a state visit to the US, the fist Chinese head of state to do so since President Li in 1984. This marks the beginning of a turnaround in Sino-American relations, which have been severely strained since 1989. It allows Clinton to promote and strengthen his policy of "engagement", and allows Jiang to demonstrate to his constituency back home that he is a "world player".
1998 ~ Religious Delegation
The first ever delegation of American religious leaders to visit China at the invitation of a Chinese president arrives for a three week tour. Topics discussed in more than 60 meetings with Party, government, business and religious leaders include government control of official religious groups, persecution of unregistered groups and discrimination against religious believers in society.
1998 - March ~ National People
Mr. Zhu replaces Li Peng as head of the government. On his first day as Premier, Mr. Zhu announces a major restructuring of the government, eliminating by decree one-third of the government ministries. Other drastic reform measures he announces include the privatization of housing and the dismantling of state-run enterprises. The transfer of power from Mr. Li to Mr. Zhu marks the first time in Chinese history that a leader has stepped down according to constitutional term limits. Mr. Zhu, who is known for his ruthless governance of the economy, is given the task of managing China's transition from a planned socialist economy to a market economy. The reforms bring with them a high risk of massive social unrest as unemployment skyrockets.
1998 - June ~ US President Clinton Visits China
At the invitation of President Jiang, Clinton makes a state visit to China, the first presidential visit since President Bush in early 1989. A press conference/debate with President Jiang and a speech at Beijing University are broadcast live. This marks another step in continuing improved relations between the two countries. It also marks the first time that the Chinese have allowed an American president to address the Chinese people directly and raise issues that are otherwise "taboo".
1998 - August ~ Appeal of House Church Leaders
A dozen leaders of unregistered Christian movements meet to draft a seven-point document calling upon the Chinese government to recognize their legitimacy and grant them the same freedoms given to Christians in the officially recognized churches.
1999 - April ~ Premier Shu Rongji Visits the US
At the invitation of President Clinton, Mr. Zhu makes a state visit to the US where he offers significant trade concessions as a prelude to China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). The plan had been to announce the US agreement on China's entry, but US domestic pressure precludes Clinton from making that announcement. The treatment received by Zhu is considered a snub, and upon his return, he is accused of giving away too much for WTO.
1999-May ~ NATO bombs Chinese Embassy in Belgrade
Rejecting NATO's claim that the bombing was accidental, the Chinese leadership proclaims it a deliberate attack on Chinese sovereignty and whips up nationalist feelings that lead to demonstrations and riots at the US embassy and consulates around the country. Sino-US relations hit an all time low, with anti-American demonstrations, China canceling a number of bilateral discussions on human rights, trade, and military ties until they receive a satisfactory explanation from the US. Hard-liners who are opposed to the reform and opening policies of Jiang and Zhu are strengthened, highlighting the power struggle at the top of the Chinese leadership.
1999 ~ 50th Ann. of People
The country celebrates 50 years! President Jiang Zemin uses the occasion to establish himself as a leader in the ranks of Mao and Deng.
1999-November ~ China Enters WTO
After 13 years of negotiations, the US and China conclude a bilateral trade agreement, paving the way for China to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO). The agreement will lower import tariffs, open more of the Chinese economy to foreign investment and obligate China to abide by international trading conventions. It is likely to speed up China's modernization and integration into the global economy but will also result in economic dislocation as the economy is restructured.
2000-March ~ Nationalists Loose Power on Tiawan
Taiwan holds direct elections in which the Nationalist Party (KMT) is defeated. Chen Shui-bian, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is elected President, making Beijing furious and nervous because of the DPP's support for Taiwan independence. Beijing threatens war if Taiwan declares independence. This election is the first democratic transfer of power in Chinese history. The people in Taiwan see it as a coming-of-age. Beijing's view is that Taiwan has taken a step closer to independence, something that they have vowed they will fight to prevent.
2002 ~ Bibles Printed in China
The China Christian Council and Amity Press celebrate the printing of the 30 millionth Bible in China.
2006 ~ Hu Jintao Visits America
President Hu Jintao visits President Bush and tours America for the first time.
2007 - September 7th ~ 200th Anniversary
This marks the 200th Anniversary of Robert Morrison's arrival in China, beginning Protestant mission there.
2007 - September ~ Women
A total of 16 teams of the highest level attended the Women's World Cup in September of 2007. Shanghai, Tianjin, Wuhan, Hangzhou, and Chengdu were chosen as the tournament's five host cities, with Shanghai conducting both the opening and closing ceremonies.
2008 - August 8-24 ~ Summer Olympics
August 8th will start the long anticipated Olympic games in Beijing, China.
2008 - September 6-17 ~ Paralympic Games