Through out the first three weeks of class we have learned many meaningful things that have completely changed my perspective not only on Religion in China, but on China as a whole. Starting with the question of “How much of China does Beijing control?” to trying to understand the relationship between religion and resistance my perspective has been altered. I always thought of the Chinese government as controlling their citizens with and iron fist and having the ability to carry out whatever decrees they saw fit. However, in reality this is not true. Also I believe it is very important to understand how the Chinese Government seems to be digging their own grave in the sense that every time they further their persecution of religion it strengthens the resolve of those practicing religion as well as leads to a growth in the religious population. The Chinese government does not seem to understand that China is a very spiritual place, it always has been and most likely always will be. The traditions that are carried out in villages and households transcend all time and connect one generation to the next. Therefore, I do not believe that the Chinese Government will ever be able to truly rid the country of all religion.
The first three weeks of this class have been very interesting and not exactly what I expected. I’m particularly intrigued by the relationship between magic and religion, so I’m looking forward to learning more about this. The various stances the Chinese government has taken toward religion (whether they are maintained or not) are also very significant to examining the history of the country as a whole. It is impossible to deny that the religious and cultic activities of the population of China have had a major effect on the history and personality of the nation and I look forward to learning more about this effect as the semester progresses.
Shout out to the virtual impossibility of getting accurate religion statistics in modern China due largely in part to semantic issues. The Chinese translation of the word “religion” is “zongjiao,” which is a very formal word. Given the indigenization of many Chinese religions, many Chinese religious would not characterize themselves as formally religious enough to subscribe in a poll to any specific religion, hence the astronomical “atheist” population. In my opinion, to understand Chinese religion is to understand that the Chinese and strictly practiced dogma don’t necessarily mesh, so to superimpose our western idea of religion as highly adhered-to, guided religious practices won’t yield accurate findings.
A shout out to the BBC and their article “China releases Swedish rights activist Peter Dahlin”. It was published earlier today and informed me about the recent release of one of 280 human rights activists/lawyers who were imprisoned by the government over the last year. I thought this article was both an interesting and significant glance into the serious issue of the Chinese government detaining lawyers and what the process looks like. The article showed the process that we touched on in class that these detainees have to go through, and in Dahlin’s case he had to confess on television that he was “clearly violating the law” in China and that he was sorry before he was aloud to be released. It was said that, “the confession appeared to be forced” which came as no surprise to me. Following this the article had an analysis section written by John Sudworth which had some very significant points to add about the political climate that may have caused or at least expedited Dahlin’s release.
As I said, I found this article to be both interesting and significant to what we have been mentioning in class. It is very current and it proves that this issue is very much an ongoing one and one that needs to be addressed. I would recommend reading it yourself to get a more clear picture of what the Chinese government is doing to try to suppress human rights lawyers.
China releases Swedish rights activist Peter Dahlin
Shout out to China’s recent expulsion of Swedish human-rights activist Peter J. Dahlin. This man had worked in Beijing founding the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group, which aimed to support lawyers and activists who worked to expose violations of people’s legal and human rights. As he was attempting to fly out of China to Thailand, he was detained in early January, and he was just today released and banned from China. His punishment, forced speech, and banishment sheds more light on China’s recent crackdown on human rights activists and journalists since July 2015. As the numbers of activists grow, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Chinese government to detain all of those who protest for their human rights. This speaks to the idea that something must change with regards to the treatment of China’s citizens by the government quickly, or the number of activists will simply continue to rise until this number is entirely out of the Party’s control. This, of course, would be catastrophic to the ‘ruling power’ of the Party.
Shout out this week to the hierarchical structure of traditional China and how this control laid the groundwork for the following attempts to control religion even today. Reading the article by Myron L. Cohen this week about the effect of Chinese religious practices on both traditional and modern everyday life was eye-opening. It shows that even though the government has used many measures throughout history to try and curtail the effect of religion on society, religion still has a very strong influence on the Chinese population. Whether it be organized religion such as Buddhism or Taoism or simply ancestor worship, these practices affect the daily lives of people in China. From religious persecution to identifying gods with political figures (the emperor or other high-ranking government officials), Cohen seems to agree with Yu that the Chinese government has never truly been completely neutral on the issue of religion, nor can they be if they wish to keep their authority.
Shout out to the Chinese government for flexing it’s military muscle in the Taiwan Strait following the election of the first female president of Taiwan. Shortly after Taiwan held their elections the Chinese Navy began military exercises most likely to spread fear and show power projection in the area. China still considers Taiwan as an integral part of it’s territory and has proclaimed in the past that they will do anything, including use military force, to take back Taiwan. Furthermore, as we talked about in class the Chinese government seems to be going after President Tsai Ing-Wen for allegedly being Lesbian.This persecution does not seem likely to be slowing down anytime soon and her facebook page has been filled up with hostile messages that the Chinese state media has called an “online crusade”. While China has always threatened to take back Taiwan these most recent actions are quite thought-provoking as to what future actions they will take or if they are following their normal smoke blowing tendencies.