ad info


Asiaweek TIMEASIA.com CNN.com
 > magazine
 home
 intelligence
 web features
 magazine archive
 technology
 newsmap
 customer service
 subscribe
 TIMEASIA.COM
 CNN.COM
  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia
  australasia
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 SHOWBIZ
 ASIA WEATHER
 ASIA TRAVEL

Other News
TIME.com
TIME Europe
FORTUNE.com
FORTUNE China
MONEY.com
Asiaweek Services
Contact Asiaweek
About Asiaweek
Media Kit
Get up to 3 months of Asiaweek free when you subscribe online!


OCTOBER 20, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 41 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK


Jesus V. Recuenco.
Battle of the Billions
As Christianity reaches for China and India, a struggle is intensifying

ALSO:
Pilot Error in Taiwan:
To regain its bearings, Chen's government must build a real coalition


They make up half of humanity: 1.27 billion Chinese, a billion Indians and over 1 billion Christians. For 2,000 years the three populations have shared Eurasia, peacefully for the most part, even with the half-millennium of major intrusions into Asia by Europeans seeking converts, commerce and colonies. Despite centuries of interaction, however, only 2% of people in China and India are Christian, and Chinese and Indians are a tiny fraction of Jesus's followers.

This largely peaceful equilibrium looks set to end, if certain forces resurgent in recent years continue to strengthen. With this month's tiff over the Vatican's canonization of 120 saints martyred in China, frictions are intensifying between Chinese rulers and the Catholic Church. Late last year it looked as if the most populous nation and the most widespread faith were reconciling. Expelled from the mainland in 1951, the Vatican's embassy was set to return from Taipei to Beijing, if China would stop persecuting "underground" Catholics loyal to the Pope. But in February the Chinese ordained five new bishops in the officially approved Patriotic Church, irking Rome. Then came arrests of underground Catholics, including a bishop and priests, and the Oct. 1 canonization, which, to China's anger, coincided with the anniversary of the People's Republic.

Beijing's fear of entities that could publicly challenge its supremacy, revived by a 17-month-old challenge from the Falungong quasi-Buddhist sect, is one oft-cited reason for its crackdown on the underground church. But there are more fundamental factors. Chinese leaders still remember how the Catholic Church helped undermine communist regimes in Europe, particularly in the Pope's native Poland. In fighting for justice and rights, Christian clergy and groups have opposed rulers across the globe, including Hong Kong's over the right of abode for mainlanders. So even setting aside the still-common view that Christianity is a Western imperialist plot, Beijing harbors plenty of fears over a resurgent Church.

In India, the authorities have generally tolerated Christianity, even the present government dominated by the rightist Bharatiya Janata Party. But Hindu chauvinists like the RSS and Shiv Sena groups backing the BJP, have opposed Christian missionary work. Many were stung by the Pope's call for more efforts to spread Catholicism during his visit last year. Anti-Christian campaigns, which can turn violent, intensified recently when a Sister of Charity, part of a Calcutta-based religious order founded by the late Mother Teresa, allegedly burned the hands of four street children caught stealing. Hindu rightists accuse missionaries of using charity work as a ploy to lure the poor and underprivileged to Christianity.

With the Church pushing aid and advocacy for the poor as a tenet, there are bound to be more conflicts between Christians and vested interests in India and China. Add to that Rome's vision of making Christianity's third millennium the Asian one (the first two saw Europe, Africa and the Americas converted). Not to mention the expected anti-foreign backlash to globalization. Unless millennia of statecraft temper the true believers all around, the Battle of the Billions may have begun.

Back to the top
Write to Asiaweek at mail@web.asiaweek.com

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek.com Home

AsiaNow


Quick Scroll: More stories from Asiaweek, TIME and CNN

   LATEST HEADLINES:

WASHINGTON
U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

MANILA
Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

ALLAHABAD
Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

COLOMBO
Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

TOKYO
Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

BANGKOK
Thai party announces first coalition partner



TIME:

COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state



ASIAWEEK:

COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness


Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN
 Search
  ASIAWEEK'S LATEST
Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

  THIS EDITION
COVER: Japan: A new generation is coming up with individualistic solutions that will ultimately change the nation
Looking Glass: Novelist Murakami Ryu sees a dim future
Transformations: Japan changed before. It can happen again

NATIONS
PHILIPPINES: Is the end coming for President Estrada?
• Juentang money: Estrada defends himself against the claims
Record: The litany of unending controversies
Interview: Accuser Singson tells his side of the story

MYANMAR: Universities are open again, and one academic — former dictator Ne Win's wife — is happy

INDONESIA: The attorney general is not done with Suharto
Population: Family planning is threatened

INSIDE STORY
TIBET: As Tibetan exiles battle for power, Beijing seeks greater control over their homeland
Interview: What the Dalai Lama sees in Tibet's future
Reincarnation: The politics of Buddhism's central mystery
Interview: Tibetan "traitor" Ngabo Ngawang Jigme

ARTS & SCIENCE
People: The naked truth about Taiwan pop star Coco Lee

Art: Thai artist Vasan Sitthiket is rude, crude and proud of it

Health: Rating the top websites on diabetes

Books: Introducing sex by the numbers

BUSINESS
Gloom: Consumers are worried despite Korea's good numbers

Banks: Are Taiwan's financial institutions under threat?

Telecom: Troubles for Malaysia's largest cellphone operator

Investing: The next course for Bangkok's bourse

TECHNOLOGY
Shakeout: Chinese portals merge as dead dotcoms pile up

GigaMedia: A talk with the man who said no to PCCW

Cutting Edge: PC Witch -Head for the Woods, Gamer

EDITORIALS

Taiwan: President Chen needs to build a real coalition

God: Christianity's struggle for China and India

Letters & Comment: Can Asian biotech catch up?

STATISTICS
The Bottom Line: Asiaweek's ranking of world economies

Back to the top   © 2000 Asiaweek. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.