Under Mao Zedung (Mao Tse-tung,) the mainland Chinese government systematically suppressed and all but obliterated traditional religion in its fervor to instill the new religion of the times, Communism. Initially, the enthusiasm and lack of wisdom characteristic of youth carried the Cultural Revolution forward at the expense of the freedoms of the masses.
Fifty-nine years after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the bloom is off the Cultural Revolution and the harsh Anti-Capitalistic realities of the Chinese Communist experiment. Left in the wake, I suspect, of the collapse of the godless Communist ideal is a gnawing hunger in the Chinese people for something spiritual. Mind you, China is still a police state and nationalistic, and, as such, it remains a dangerous adversary.
So, the President wants the Chinese people to have religious freedoms to enhance the possibilities of Chinese governmental change. But, for what religion is that likely to be? Would it be traditional Asian Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism or the more proselytic religions of Christianity and Islam? (1) Despite the Communist Chinese religious purge, religion did not die out and a small minority of Buddhists, Taoists, Confucianists, Christians (3-4%) and Muslims (1-2%) remain in the officially atheist country. (2)
Say what you want about the intentions of most Muslims to live in peaceful co-existence with the rest of the world’s religions, but I remain unconvinced. Radical Islam is ascendant, and it exists even within the oppressive Chinese police state. Today, while the Olympics are playing out:
"Terrorists" from the Muslim Uighur minority carried out the latest attack in north-west China, state media said, as it reported the death toll from the violence had risen to 12. (3)
China claims Xinjiang, populated by 8.3 million Uighurs, is home to Islamic terrorists intent on targetting the Olympics. (3)
Undoubtedly Pres. Bush is correct in his tactical move to influence the Chinese government toward religious freedom. However, there is a tremendous chance that any Chinese government relaxation on the control of religion will result in a significant escalation in Islamic violence.
The current U.S. foreign policy on China will eventually result in ever greater battles with radical Islam. The Chinese government may change, but Islam will not, at least not in the next few centuries. And, that is way too long a period for my taste.
The double edge sword is really a scimitar, is it not?
Links in this Blog:
1. Chinese Cultural Studies: Philosophy and Religion in China
2. CIA Factbook-China
3. Terrorists behind latest China attack