China and Christianity
Jude Wanniski
May 14, 1997


Memo To: A.M. Rosenthal, The New York Times
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: China & Christianity

Your column yesterday suggests that those of us who favor MFN with China do so out of a business interest. I support MFN because I believe China is on a steady positive course concerning aspects of human rights, including religious worship. There is less persecution of Christians today than there was a year ago or ten years ago. There are no longer examples of forced abortion for those who have more children than the government would like to see born. Yes, there are financial costs assessed by the government, but these cannot be considered violations of human rights. Christian churches are permitted to hold services and even the Pope has made it clear that Catholics who attend the so-called "Patriotic Catholic Church" can consider the sacraments valid. The churches are not as free as they are in the United States, where priests, ministers, rabbis and imams can stand in the pulpit and denounce President Clinton or Newt Gingrich as part of the service. But if the congregations who wish to worship register with the government and agree to refrain from political rallies, they are not impeded. Catholic priests are regularly arrested, but this is because they belong to the Underground church, which insists on being treated as if Beijing and the Vatican had diplomatic relations with each other, though they do not. As a Catholic, I appreciate the stamina of the Underground church, but this also seems to be an area that Jesus would say would be one we render unto Caesar, not God. It does not make any sense for Beijing to recognize the Vatican when the Vatican recognizes the Republic of China on Taiwan as the duly constituted government of the Chinese people.

With the noble objective of ending religious persecution in China, Abe, you ask your fellow Americans to get behind legislation backed by Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia. Their bill "would create a White House office to monitor religious persecution. Its director would determine where religious persecution was widespread and ongoing torture, imprisonment, murder, as of Christians in China, or enslavement, as of Christians in the Sudan, or mass resettlement, as of Tibetan Buddhists by China." WOW. That would be some kind of White House monitor! The director would be able to block loans to such countries and force opposition to international loans to such countries. We couldn't export stuff that would get to any government agencies that are assigned to persecute. "Visas would be denied to officials of the persecution. Logically that would mean no visas for officials of the Chinese puppet churches."

In sum, Abe you exhort: "Americans who want their country to stand up against religious persecution should start supporting the bill now and continue on for as much time as it takes. And they will have to remember that the opponents of help to the persecuted will have just as much time and a lot more money and fight hard."

It all sounds pretty zany to me Abe, more like George Orwell than James Madison. What happens down the line with such an office when the Director rules that the Israeli government is guilty of "ethnic cleansing" in South Jerusalem, stamping out followers of Mohammed?

I'm sorry to say, it sounds as if you have been out in the sun too long. Once upon a time, you were a great reporter, Abe. You used to make phone calls to get information from all sides and make trips to places you were writing about, to see for yourself. Now all you do is bitch, bitch, bitch, dreaming up new ways to cause trouble. We need you to hold the world to the highest standards, Abe, to remind us there are standards. But try to calm down. Relax. Why don't you pack a bag and head for China? Take a slow boat.