Archive for March, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Germany’s Slow-Motion China Debate

When Mao Zedong died and Hua Guofeng succeeded him, there was much more China coverage on the German media than now – from what I can remember. I was ten years old at the time, but have never forgotten how the newsreaders pronounced the new helmsman’s name: Hu-ah Ku-oh Fang. The muscles in their faces were working hard during the two or three seconds it took to read his name out. The rather intense coverage probably lasted until 1979 at least.

China came back, bigtime, in Germany’s news coverage during 2008 (and, I’m sure, in 1989, too, but I hardly remember that time in the news). By that time, China was no longer a faraway country, with a few blurred television pictures “received in Hong Kong”, but more like news from an uncannily close neighbor.

Meantime, to use a cuisinary term, the clash with China – or the CCP – keeps simmering over low heat in the German press. On March 10 – twenty days ago -, a radio essay by Sabine Pamperrien, the source of many or most of the coverage on the Zhang Danhong affair at Germany’s foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle  in 2008, was aired by Deutschlandfunk, one of Germany’s two nationwide radio broadcasters. She criticized the views of former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt on non-interference, arguing that in terms of international law, Schmidt’s opinion was a minority opinion, even if Schmidt argued as if his opinion was apodictic. Non-interference wasn’t codified, but derived from customary international law – just as human rights widely were. Pamperrien argues that the “international responsibility to protect (R2P) had been drafted, more than ten years ago, to define the concept of sovereignty within the UN Charter anew. This wasn’t codified either, but was becoming more and more customary:

Deshalb wurde vor über zehn Jahren mit dem Begriff der “internationalen Schutzverantwortung” eine Neudefinition des Souveränitätsbegriffs der Charta der Vereinten Nationen entworfen. Danach sind Menschenrechte nicht innere Angelegenheiten von Staaten, sondern supranationales Recht. Auch das ist nicht kodifiziert, setzt sich gewohnheitsrechtlich aber immer mehr durch.

It should not be forgotten, Pamperrien adds, that non-interference had been the central defense club (Abwehrkeule) of communist potentates during the Entspannungspolitik (détente), whenever dissidents in their countries – or expelled by their governments – became a topic.

Coincidentally or not, Wolf Biermann, a former East German citizen, expelled by the East German government in 1976, wrote an open letter to Liao Yiwu (published on March 27). Biermann expressed anger about Helmut Schmidt (in his capacity as the co-editor of German weekly Die Zeit, which had been speading stinking news lately. Stinking news, that is, about Liao Yiwu.

For sure, German sinologist Wolfgang Kubin had alluded to the topic of Liao Yiwu, and to a chance that Liao’s descriptions might require verification. Friends who had visited Liao in prison had told him (Kubin) that the conditions of Liao’s imprisonment hadn’t been as harsh as he [later] described them, that much what he couldn’t publish here  [in China, apparently] wasn’t documentation, but fiction, and that the case deserved closer investigation (“Der Fall lohnte einer genaueren Untersuchung”).

But that was in October 2012, and Biermann doesn’t state explicitly which comments about Liao Yiwu in Die Zeit caused his anger – Kubin’s, or anyone else’s. In another article, nine days ago, Die Zeit stated that Kubin hadn’t been able to prove his accusation against Liao.

I wrote an article on Biermann’s and Pamperrien’s criticism on “my” German blog – on a platform provided by German weekly Der Freitag – on Wednesday, with a reference to the Zhang Danhong affair and the events that unfolded at Deutsche Welle, It dawned on me that I hadn’t asked myself too many questions about all those events for a long time, and that I hadn’t asked any stakeholders questions for a long time. The thread that followed my post on my German blog was actually instructive – it has given me several ideas on how to do some more research. That may require time, once again, and will inevitably reduce my blogging frequency further – at least for a while.

The funny bit about that is that I’m under no time pressure. No big newsagency, no big paper, no broadcaster is likely to pick up the Deutsche-Welle issues any time soon. But as time passes, more and more information is trickling down – not least from Li Qi‘s Deutsche Welle’s China Nightmare. The book remained available – as far as I can see, no judicial steps have been taken against the publishing house, and apparently, no counterstatements have been made.

The anti-CCP mill, too, is grinding its way rather slowly. Biermann’s reaction to the coverage of Die Zeit seems to suggest that, and so does Pamperrien’s: Helmut Schmidt had made his remarks about non-interference and other issues more than one years earlier, on January 31, 2012.

Back then, Tai De took issue with Schmidt’s remarks about the Korean War.



» Deutsche Welle Link Collection, Febr 3, 2012
» Xu Pei and the Dirty Old Men, May 17, 2010


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

China Blogging: To Whom it may Concern

At least when it comes to China-related blogging, traffic in general seems to go down. An outspoken blogger told me that this was the case with his blog. Commenting activity on usually very lively blogs seems to suggest that even there, traffic is low, and it is certainly low my own blog.  Statistics do go up once I’ve posted something new – and even more so when I post more than just one article a time. It certainly didn’t help that I’ve put some voluntary limits on my blogging output by now. OK – semi-voluntary limits.

You aren't a blogger

You aren’t a blogger – how do you know what bloggers enjoy?

But low traffic isn’t what I imagined five years ago, when I started this blog. I thought it would be more like publishing. In fact, it has become more like e-mailing. Most people seem to read this through a feedreader. And only rather little “comes back”, in terms of comments or emails.

Should that trouble me? It doesn’t, actually. It has led me to cutting back on blogging, because it’s influence was so small that it doesn’t justify two or even one  hours a day of blogging (blogging here includes lots of reading). But at the same time, I see this blog as a contribution to the vast resources on which I depend myself – to the internet. It’s Give and Take.

And once in a while, something comes back directly to this blog. A comment, some advice, some kind of input.

There is only one regret I do feel: it’s that this blog is rarely read in China, and rarely responded to from China. Now, you can draw your own conclusions, of course, and suggest that it is too cold-war-minded to attract readers.

But I believe that the contrary is the case.

It isn’t just that JR isn’t really cold-war-minded – he’s only outspoken. And even people who take offense, as a rule, tend to come back to what seems to offend them. It’s a global rule, not specifically Chinese, and I’m not trying to explore the motivation for such reading habits.

It would seem to me that censorship in China has become yet more efficient – that would be one factor in declining traffic. In the past, even when it was said that WordPress blogs were blocked in China throughout, one or another white point in China would still appear on ClustrMaps, every few days or weeks. Not anymore.

There is a blog in German, Doppelpod, which – I think – started early in 2011. It has seen some success so far  – it’s quoted on some of the more influential German blogs once in a while, for example. But the actual goal of its founders – to establish a platform where Chinese and German readers would discuss issues and build cross-cultural or personal links between each other – hasn’t been achieved, and that goal is now being abandoned.

Obviously, censorship isn’t the only barrier between a German and a Chinese public. Language is another barrier. Rather limited general interest in each other’s country is yet another.

But there’s a good thing about simply blogging for the fun it brings: cold numbers and economics don’t need to decide about its future. In fact, bloggers seem to be more free to write about what really concerns them, than professonal journalists.

And it doesn’t matter how many people read your blog. What matters is that those who care do read.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Xi Jinping, out of Town: Huanqiu Shibao quotes “Western Media” (i. e. Deutsche Welle)

China and Russia are most important strategic partners, the BBC quotes CCP secretary general and Chinese state chairman Xi Jinping, who has started a tour of Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo today. While in Africa, Russia will remain on his agenda on foreign relations, too – Xi will attend the fifth Brics summit from March 26 to 27 in South Africa.

Fenghuang (Hong Kong) coverage of Xi’s arrival in Moscow here »

According to the Voice of Russia (VoR), one of the aims in advancing the two countries’ partnership is to boost mutual trade turnover to 100 billion dollars by 2015. Energy issues, local economic cooperation and social events, including a meeting with students of the Lomonosov State University are on the agenda, according to VoR. According to the broadcaster, China has become Russia’s largest trade partner for the second year in a row.

Xi is scheduled to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin, prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, Federation Council chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko, Duma (parliament) chairman Sergey Naryshkin “and other leaders”, as well as friends from all ways of life in Russia, writes Xinhua newsagency. He will also deliver a speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and meet Russian sinologists, according to Xinhua. International affairs aren’t ranking high in the descriptive Xinhua article, but Russian president is quoted from a telephone record with Xi of March 14 as saying that Russian-Chinese relations were among the important factors of safeguarding world peace and stability, and carrying particular significance.

Huanqiu Shibao quotes a Russian deputy foreign minister as describing Xi’s visit to Russia as a “major event” in the two countries’ relationship. The deputy foreign minister added that Moscow had made careful preparations for the visit. Western media said that Xi’s choice of Russia as his first foreign destination was “no surprise” (“不意外”), writes Huanqiu. One after another, Western media believed that the intentions behind China’s arrangements made people wonder.

“Are China and Russia going to sign big energy contracts?” “Is Beijing turning back to the [old] strategic center of gravity with Moscow” to respond to the shift of America’s strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region?” The guesses and speculations by Western analysts, with seven mouths and eight tongues (七嘴八舌), look as if they were x-raying Sino-Russian relations.

俄副外长里亚布科夫21日用“两国交往中的大事件”形容这次访问,并称莫斯科已为迎接习主席做好万全准备。西方媒体大多对中国国家主席上任后首先访俄“不 意外”,同时纷纷认为北京的安排用意极深,耐人琢磨。“中俄要签能源大单?”“北京要用‘战略重心重返莫斯科’回应‘战略重心重返亚太’的美国?”西方分 析家七嘴八舌的猜测就像在给中俄关系做X光检测。

As for Xi Jinping’s visit to Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo, after his stay in Russia, and the “Sino-African approaches” (“中非走近”), following the “Sino-Russian embrace”, have gone hot in Western public opinion. “Westerners are tossing lots of question marks, but essentially, their curiosity is only about one thing. That is how big a country China will be in the next ten years”, says Chinese scholar Jin Canrong.

由于习主席访俄后将访问坦桑尼亚、南非和刚果(布) ,“中非走近”已尾随着“中俄拥抱”在西方舆论中迅速变热。“西方人抛出的问号很多,但实质上他们的好奇只有一个。那就是未来十年,中国会做一个怎样的大国。”中国学者金灿荣说。

In fact, Germany’s former foreign broadcaster and current media platform Deutsche Welle (DW) describes Xi’s visit to Russia as his unsurprising international debut. Deutsche Welle also quotes Gu Xuewu of the University of Bonn with pretty much the remarks about deepening military cooperation in the face of the US “pivot to Asia” that had been noted by Huanqiu Shibao’s “Western media” review.

However, much of what the DW article says is simply not quoteable for Huanqiu Shibao: fair weather friends, unsentimental partnership of convenience, or a trip to Moscow that was was symbolic in nature. Not to mention the demographic development in the Far East, viewed by the Russian side with unease.

And obviously, Huanqiu provides no link to the DW article – nor do they mention the old enemy broadcaster as their online source.



» VoR Chinese frequencies, swldxbulgaria, March 14, 2013
» CRI Russian frequencies, swldxbulgaria, March 14, 2013
» No Bullying, July 19, 2012
» Now Africa’s largest trading partner, BBC, May 22, 2012

Thursday, March 21, 2013

No Bread, but .Circuses: German Public Diplomacy towards Greece

German member of federal parliament Hans-Joachim Fuchtel will be in Greece from March 25 to 28, according to Fuchtel’s website. The speaker of Baden-Württemberg’s state parliament, Guido Wolf, and a number of other experts from various regions will also be part of the group tour.

Their motto: “Encouraging our Greek friends!”

Not entertaining enough: German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Not entertaining enough: German dowager empress chancellor Angela Merkel.

And no, Angela Merkel won’t travel along. I mean, seriously, that wouldn’t be encouraging. Instead, Fuchtel proudly presents Otto Rehhagel, once a successful coach for the Greek national soccer team.

Maybe there are some hidden champions among the experts, with one good economic and political ideas. As for Rehhagel’s mission, Inside Greece sees his assignment as the latest attempt at low-level micro-diplomacy between Germany and Greece:

To send a soccer coach into this environment hoping that he will make a difference is shoddy and shortsighted but absolutely in keeping with the way this crisis has been handled.

Then again, Rehhagel may be able to explain what went wrong, as he did on a press conference after losing against Sweden, in the Euro soccer championship of 2008 –

Q: We have seen that even Germany plays with much more offensive power than usual. Can we expect something of this kind from Greece, too?

A: Of course, we would like to score. But we are a team that scores rarely, as statistics show. We need to stand securely at the back so as to score once, maybe.

But his most recent rescue mission, in Berlin, went wrong. Hertha needs a bailout fund for the coming years, he said in 2012, pondering what would happen if the club, coached by him, would be relegated to the Second Bundesliga. That’s where the club is now.

Politics comes without a sense of history these days – with one exception. Frequently, when the talk is about “more Europe”, we are warned that the alternative of that would be “war”.

But German public diplomacy towards Greece is about bread and circuses. Minus the bread, that is. If public diplomacy is about adding insult to injury, this is certainly a great approach.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Xi Jinping’s Speech on Sunday: China Towering, but Development remains Overriding Ideology

Both an important speech (重要讲话) itself and the Chinese press coverage are part of the same decoration team, aiming at not only creating a verbal message, but an atmosphere, too. Newly elected state chairman Xi Jinping‘s speech on Sunday was no exception.

Today, our People’s Republic stands towering in the East of the world.


Comrade Hu Jintao held the post of state chairman for ten years, and with a wealth of political wisdom, excellent leadership qualities, assiduous work spirit, did outstanding deeds to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, won the love and support from all the nationalities of China and the international community’s universal praise. We express our sincere gratitude and greatest respect to Comrade Hu Jintao!



Approving the predecessors: vote on last year’s government work report et al.
Click photo for CCTV coverage.

No need to repeat oneself. In Xinhua newsagency’s coverage, it is Xi Jinping himself who stands towering:

Wearing a dark-blue suit and a red tie, the membership hanging on his chest, Xi Jinping, tall of stature, stood smiling, calmly and self-confident. His voice clear, bright and vigorous, looking frank and honest, resolute and steadfast, he revealed the power of stirring people to action.


“To achieve the construction of a moderately prosperous society, and the goal of a strong and prosperous, democratic and civilized, harmonious socialist modern motherland, to achieve the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, this means achieving modern national prosperity and strength, vigorous national revitalization, and the happiness of the people …”


Witnessed by the Great Hall of the People, under the stars of its dome, under surges of applause, Xi Jinping firmly said:


To bring about the Chinese dream, we must take the Chinese road.
To bring about the Chinese dream, we must advance the Chinese spirit.
To bring about the Chinese dream we must cohere Chinese power.




This is the duty the leaders of the People’s Republic of China take for the motherland, the people: we must never be complacent, we must never be sluggish, we must make persistent efforts, advance boldly, continue to push forward the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and continue to struggle for the achievement of the Chinese dream of China’s great rejuvenation.


This is our promise to the people: The Chinese dream is, after all, the dream of the Chinese people, it must firmly rely on the people to achieve it, it must continuously bring benefit for the people.


That much from the Xinhua report, and back to the actual speech:

development remains the overriding (or absolute) strategic ideology (我们要坚持发展是硬道理的战略思想), said Xi, thus quoting “Deng Xiaoping theory”, but added that the fruits from development should benefit the entire people in a fairer way – and that China was still in “the first stage of socialism”.1)

Taiwan didn’t escape a mention either2):

Numerous Taiwanese compatriots and mainland compatriots join hands and support, maintain and promote cross-strait relations and peaceful development, enhance the happiness and benefit of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, jointly set up the new and further prospects of the Chinese nation. Numerous overseas Chinese want to make contributions to carry forward the Chinese nation’s the fine, diligent and kind Chinese tradition, and work diligently to advance the motherlands development, to promote the Chinese people’s and local people’s friendship.


The Chinese people love peace. We will hold the banner of peace, development, cooperation and win-win high, we won’t change our road of peaceful development, we won’t change the strategy of mutual benefit and opening up, we will make efforts to cooperate friendly with all the countries of the world, fulfill our international responsibilities and duties, continue to work with all people in all countries to advance the lofty cause of humankind’s peace and development.




1) 31 members of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) are farmers-turned migrant workers, China Radio International (CRI) reported on Sunday. That number was a tenfold increase from the 11th NPC. But they are hardly a match to the 90 NPC members who appear to be worth at least 1.8 billion Yuan (The Economist, March 16, 2013, page 53).
2) Stability in Hong Kong and Macau was an issue addressed by Xi, too. One day later, on March 18, Xi reminded visiting Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying that implementation was the key to the chief executive’s vision of “seeking change while maintaining stability” in Hong Kong.
“I’m not an idiot either”, replied Leung. (No, Leung said no such thing. This is just a malicious rumor, courtesy of JR.)



» Nods to Public Concerns, NY Times, March 14, 2013
» Delegates make Difference, March 6, 2009


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Late Weekend Links

It started snowing again this afternoon, and combined with some high wind, it had all the makings of a blizzard. So people were out with their cameras to record the beginnings of what they thought might become this winter’s really big event.

A cat watches the night fall.

Snow is in the air (last night).

But it’s spring after all. It’s lots of snow, but by now, it feels somewhat sticky, with temperatures around zero degrees C., long after sunset.

Lots of political news from China to read, but that will probably have to wait until Thursday.

Old news, but with some interesting background – MKL wrote about Taiwan’s participation in the 2013 World Baseball Classics last weekend, and about Taiwanese-Japanese relations in general.

Last Saturday (yesterday), MKL wrote about the Taiwanese independence movement, with some photos and personal impressions. And the Far-Eastern Sweet Potato wonders if spontaneous and long-term campaigns in Taiwan’s civil society are leading to a new phase of national consciousness.

And Kim Andrew Elliott collected news about cautious Australian reactions to reported Radio Australia jamming by China, and an outspoken reaction from the Voice of America (VoA).



» BBC Statement, Febr 26, 2013


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Huanqiu Shibao: Why the Retired Pope’s “China Dream” remained unachieved (2) – the British did it, too

« Previous (first) part of translation, plus some remarks.

Subtitle: The Vatican’s continues to keep “Diplomatic Relations” with Taiwan and interferes in China’s domestic Catholicism

Main Link: Why the Retired Pope’s “China Dream” remained unachieved, Huanqiu Shibao, March 5, 2013

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

After the opium war, foreign missionaries, under the protection of powers’ gunboats and unequal treaties, entered China one after another, built churches and proselytize “freely”. Some of the missionaries, in violation of the rules of the God who had sent them to save “Chinese souls”, acted in full complicity with aggressive powers. Dressed in the coats of religion, they did many bad things, seriously damaging the image of the Christian religion, and giving rise to the Chinese people’s indignation.


After the establishment of the PRC, the Vatican refused recognition and crudely interfered in Chinese internal political affairs. In 1952, China suspended [or broke off – 中断] all official relations with the Vatican, banned Catholic churches, condemning their conspiracy with the forces of imperialism’s attempts to subvert New China. — The Vatican officially recognized Taiwan. The huge number of patriotic Catholics resolutely took the road of the independently and autonomously-run church. Our country established the “Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association“, the “Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China”, and others. These organizations were acknowledged by the government, government-funded, and also accepted governmental administration. Their fundamental purpose is to love religion and to love the country, to obey the law, and “to love both God and the country”.


The “Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association was established in 1958. In 1982, the “Bishops Conference of Catholic Church in China” was established as Chinese Catholic regional leadership institution. Most importantly, the “Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association” has the right to independently appoint bishops. The “Three-Self Patriotic Movement” purpose is: self-governance, self-support and self-propagation, principles of independence and autonomy in its operations, guiding the entire country’s Christians to love religion and to love the country, to glorify God, to abide by the constitution, to carry forward the noble morality and practices, etc.. In fact, as early as during the 1rst World War, British Anglican priest Ài Lún [obviously an English name, but unknown to me], relating to the “New Testament”, called for the independence of churches from all countries, issuing the “Three-Self” position. China is a secular country, all religions have always been administrated in accordance with the law, and received legal protection.


Some people may ask: does China have the right to autonomously administer the churches? Yes, of course it has. Anglicanism is the obvious example. England’s rejuvenating and wise Queen Elizabeth I.’s father Henry VIII. (1491 – 1547), dissatisfied with the Roman Pope’s refused permission to divorce his Spanish wife (she didn’t give birth to a child, which could have led to the throne succession rights to his Spanish adversaries), he angrily had England break away from the Roman church and established England’s own national church, the “Church of England” or “Anglican Church”. This is the origin of the Church of England. The English kings and queens were made the top leaders of the church. To this day, the British Queen keeps the title of “Protector of the Christian Faith” [actual title: Defender of the Faith].

有人会问:中国有办理教会的自主权吗?当然可以。英国国教就是明显例证。英国兴国明君—女王伊丽莎白一世的父亲亨利八世(Henry Ⅷ,1491—1547)因为不满罗马教皇不批准他与其西班牙妻子离婚(因为她没有生育,英国王位的继承权可能旁落到其对手西班牙王室的手中),他一气之下,使英国脱离了罗马教会,组建了英国自己的民族教会,即“英格兰圣公会”或“安立甘教会”。这就是英国国教(Church of England)的来历。英国国王把自己封为教会的最高领导人。迄今,英国女王伊丽莎白二世还保留着“基督教保护者”头衔。

The Vatican even hopes to include the religious churches of a country with diplomatic relations into the Vatican’s “Confucian orthodoxy” system, with the Pope [unitarily – 统一] appointing that country’s bishops in all dioceses, and setting the methods by which they should lead and administer [the dioceses]. This leads to contradictions with Chinese Catholicism’s current “three-self” principles which are hard to dispel. The Vatican firmly opposes the “three-self” and acknowledges the Taiwanese government, and excommunicates the Catholic bishops acknowledged by the Chinese government.


To be continued.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Huanqiu Shibao: Why the Retired Pope’s “China Dream” remained unachieved (1)

Catholicism isn’t a big religion in China, but there seem to be several millions of Catholic Christians – organized inside or outside the official “Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association”.

This topic is unchartered territory to me, and mistakes in the following translation(s) are not unlikely. This is a translation of the first chapter of a topical page on Huanqiu Shibao. I haven’t made up my mind yet if I should translate the remaining chapters, too. But it seems to be an attractive topic, also in the light of soft-power issues — JR

[Observation: there seems to be a rather thoughtful – by Huanqiu Shibao commenter standards, that is – discussion going on in the thread underneath the topical page.]

[Links within blockquotes added during translation.]

Main Link: Why the Retired Pope’s “China Dream” remained unachieved – 退位教皇为何没圆“中国梦”, Huanqiu Shibao, March 5, 2013

Introduction: On February 28, 2013, in the evening, Roman Pope Benedict XVI formally relinquished the papal duties, thus becoming the first “retiring” Pope in 600 years. It is also the fifth “retiring” Pope in history. Benedict XVI, during his “reign” of six years, tried to improve Chinese-Vatican relations and to establish diplomatic relations with China, but up to his “retirement”, this hadn’t been achieved. What are the origins of this City of Shang Di‘s relations with China?


In 1582, xx years into the reign of Emperor Ming Wanli, Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci was sent to Macau to learn Chinese. In 1583, he founded a Catholic missionary base in Zhaoqing to introduce mathematics, geometry mechanics and similar science to the Chinese people. He studied China’s “Four Books and Five Classics”, went deep into the study of Chinese traditional culture, wore the Han Chinese clothing and said that to be a missionary, one had “to do as the Romans do”. Ricci came to Beijing in 1601, he was in charge of the construction of the Xuanwumen Church, and died in Beijing in 1610. Ricci was a brilliant man of wide learning, and a pioneer of Chinese-Western cultural exchange.


After the introduction of Catholicism into China, the so-called “disputes about the rites” (“礼仪之争”) broke out within Catholicism, with the focus on how to translate the appellation of “God” into Chinese, and how to deal with traditional Chinese traditional custom. Ricci believed that the appelation of “God”, besides using the term “Lord of Heaven/God” (天主), “Heaven” or “Shang Di” were also options, and that Chinese believers could retain traditional ancestoral and religious worship. But the Spanish Dominican missionaries and Franciscan missionaries believed that ancestoral and religious worship was idolatry and violated “biblical” rules. They thus sent people to the Holy See in Rome to complain about Ricci’s Jesuits there.


In 1700 (39 years into the reign of Qing Emperor Kangxi), Kangxi entered the rites dispute and declared ancestoral worship (祭祖) and memorial ceremonies of Confucius (祭孔) weren’t parts of traditional Chinese traditional customs, and no religious activities. In 1704, Pope Clement XI publicly ordered the prohibition of ancestoral worship and memorial ceremonies of Confucius among followers of Catholicism, as well as the use of “Shangdi” and “Heaven” as other terms for “Lord of Heaven/God” (天主). He sent an envoy to China for talks. When papal special envoy Charles-Thomas Maillard de Tournon (铎罗) declared in 1706 that his mission to China was to ban ancestoral worship and memorial ceremonies of Confucius among Chinese Catholics, Emperor Kangxi was furious, believing that this move spelled interference in Chinese customs. He sent people to bring Maillard into a temporary residence in Nanjing and ordered the expulsion of missionaries who opposed Chinese rites, and also sent envoys to Rome for talks. In 1707, Maillard, in disregard of Kangxi’s decree, announced the papal ban. Therefore, Kangxi ordered Maillard to be taken to Macau to be held under house arrest there, and issued a decree: “tell the Westerners (西洋人) that from now on, if they don’t respect Matteo Ricci’s rules, they will not be allowed to reside in China and will be sent home.”


In 1715, Pope Clement XI reiterated the ban of 1645 – offenders [against the ban] would be punished for heresy (以异端论处). Kangxi was furious, ordering the arrest of the missionaries and a ban on missionizing. In 1719, the Pope sent a delegation to Beijing for talks again, but Kangxi refused a meeting and rebuked them: “You Westerners don’t understand Chinese writing, so how can you discuss the rights or wrongs of Chinese reason” (尔西洋人不解中国文字,如何妄议中国道理之是非) and “in future, Westerners must not proselityze in China, all of which will be prohibited” (以后不必西洋人在中国传教,禁止可也). Kangxi therefore ordered the expulsion of the guests. Rome’s Pope was forced to make concessions, and in 1720, he announced the “Eight Permissions”.*) [The permissions] agreed to [the legitimacy of] non-religious Chinese rites. Kangxi ordered that only missionaries who were prepared to respect traditonal Chinese rites should reside in China, and banned overt missionary work. It wasn’t before 1939 that the Holy See in Rome revoked all bans on rites, thus bringing the dispute, which had lasted for more than 300 years, to an end. From this, it can be seen that the so-called “disputes about the rites” were completely caused by the Roman Popes’ ignorance of China.


Continued here »



*) According to other versions, it wasn’t the Pope who announced these “eight permissions”, but the delegate, John-Ambrose Mezzabarba. The “Eight Permissions” weren’t long-lived, and apparently overturned by Pope Benedict XIV, in 1742.



Hao Jinli, 1916 – 2011, March 28, 2011


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