Religion and the Future of China

Description

Session One : China’s Dynamic Religious Landscape

Brian Grim, Senior Research Fellow in Religion and World Affairs, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

Fenggang Yang, Director, Center on Religion and Chinese Society, Purdue University

Mayfair Yang, Director of Asian Studies, The University of Sydney , Australia ; Professor of Religious Studies, University of California , Santa Barbara

Presider: Terrill E. Lautz, Vice President and Secretary, Henry Luce Foundation

8:00 to 8:30 a.m. Breakfast Reception
8:30 to 9:45 a.m. Meeting   

Session Two : Religion and the State

Robert Barnett, Director, Modern Tibetan Studies Program, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

Dru C. Gladney, President, Pacific Basin Institute, PomonaCollege

Rebecca Nedostup, Assistant Professor of Chinese History, BostonCollege

Presider: Minky Worden, Media Director, Human Rights Watch

10:00 to 11:15 a.m. Meeting          

Session Three :Religion, Civil Society, and Economic Life

 Adam Yuet Chau , Lecturer in the Social Anthropology of China , University of London

Richard Madsen, Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, UniversityofCalifornia , San Diego

Robert Weller, Professor and Chair of Anthropology and Research Associate, Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs, Boston University

Presider: Susan Roosevelt Weld, Deputy Director, Georgetown Law - Asia

11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Meeting
12:45 to 1:30 p.m. Buffet Lunch

        

Audio
Transcript

This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD:  (Gavel sounds.)  Good morning.  Stacy, is this on?  Okay, good morning, everyone.  That's what the headmaster of my old school used to do when he wanted us to all be quiet, "Good morning!" he would say, with that headmasterly tone.  I'd like to welcome you all to the Council on Foreign Relations Symposium on Religion and the Future of China.  I'll make a couple of introductory remarks and then turn it over to Terri Lautz, who will lead our first panel.

A symposium is a relatively new form of meeting that we have at the Council.  It involves essentially a half-day experience of panel speakers and food.  So, we're - we're glad you're all able to come.  This particular symposium series on topics that generally try to bring together religion and foreign policy has been very generously funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

We thought it was appropriate for me to thank and acknowledge the Luce Foundation, because Terri is with the Luce Foundation and we thought he probably wouldn't get up there and thank himself for his vision and splendor.  But, we do, Terri, thank you very much, and to the board.

This particular effort by the Council to study religion and foreign policy is one of our key intellectual initiatives.  We believe, at the Council, that the worlds of religion and foreign policy need to come together more than they have so far.  That, in a lot of ways - sometimes not necessarily the obvious ways, religion is shaping the international system.  It often shapes the presuppositions that actors bring to the table.  It often shapes the political context in which societies, including our own society, take important decisions.

We are trying to investigate this complex world.  Our experience is that many of the people who make decisions in foreign policy, and think about foreign policy, are not particularly conscious about the degree to which religion is quietly, and sometimes invisibly, shaping the context in which they act.  And, at the same time, we find that people who are knowledgeable about religion sometimes lack a sophisticated grasp of how the foreign policy world works, and the system works.

We think that if these two groups of experts can become more cognizant of each other's worlds and thoughts, we'll have - the world of religion will be able to make a more positive and a more informed contribution to what's going on in foreign policy and people in foreign policy will be better equipped to do their work.  So these symposia are part of a broader effort that we are undertaking to try to bring these worlds together.

We are also trying to do work that brings together, and shows how these two forces can work together.  If you look at the current issue of Foreign Affairs, I've written an article in that on "Why Americans Support Israel," which looks at some of the ways in which even secular Americans, who don't think religion has anything to do with the way they approach the world, are actually acting out of beliefs, motives, methods of interpreting history that have deep roots in the world of American religion.

We hope that over the future years we'll be producing more work of this nature and better work.  But, thank you all for coming.  I hope you enjoy this.  And as Terri will tell you, this is not only an on-the-record session, it's being webcast, so watch out!  (Laughter.)  Thank you.

TERRILL E. LAUTZ:  Thank you, Walter.  And it's a privilege to be moderating this session.  It's been a personal joy to work with you, Walter, and with Tim Shaw on this whole series.  And, on behalf of the Luce Foundation, it's been a privilege for Michael Gilligan, the president, and our board, including Tom Pulling and Claire Gaudiani who are here this morning, to be working with the Council on this initiative.  We believe that it's very important.

I need to alert you, if you haven't already done so, to the need to turn off your electronic devices.  They should not even be on "buzz," or "beep," or whatever.  They have to be turned off completely because of the electronics.  As Walter already mentioned, this session is on the record and it is being webcast live.  There are cameras around us, and we welcome our web audience this morning, and we may even have some questions from them.

I'd like to introduce our three panel members this morning.  Brian Grim, who is senior fellow - senior research fellow in Religion and World Affairs at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C.; spent a number of years from - dating from early 1980s, living and working in China, and has had experience in a number of other countries in Asia and other parts of the world.

Professor Fenggang Yang, who is Department of Sociology at Purdue University in Indiana and has recently established a new Center for Religion and Chinese Foreign Policy at Purdue.

And Professor Mayfair Yang, who has been for some years, professor of Religious Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara, and has recently taken up a new position as director of Asian Studies at the University of Sydney in Australia, where she spent a few years as a child - in her youth.

We'd like to start out by trying to outline, just briefly, some historical and contemporary context for this vast subject of religion in China, and talk about the importance of religion in China, particularly today, and then direct some of our attention to the question of policy consequences for religion, both on the domestic side in China and in terms of foreign policy.  I'm sure that in the question and answer session, you will - you will want to pursue these issues as well.

I think it's always a good idea to start with history.  And I think there's a, kind of a general perception - and a lot of this comes initially, at least, from the Jesuits in the 16th Century, 17th Century, who went to China and thought that they had discovered a society that was based on rational secular values, where religion - at least in terms of leadership in state, wasn't that relevant.  And they came back to France, and other parts of Europe, and got very excited about this, and some of our enlightened thinkers were the beneficiaries.

But, Mayfair, if we could ask you, what is - you know, all traditional, or pre-modern societies - or almost all, that I'm aware of at least, you find that political authority and religious authority go hand-in-hand.  What was the situation in China?  What was the reality?

MAYFAIR YANG:  Well, let me just start with talking a little bit about the religious configuration in late imperial China, at about the time when, you know, the Jesuits went to China in the 16th, 17th centuries.  You know, the state at that time was itself a quasi-religious entity.  It oversaw a very complex system of sacrifices.  It had a monopoly on the access to heaven; Tian, who - which was the supreme diety, only the emperor had the right to sacrifice to him.  And ritual and sacrifice were - what defined the state, the centralized state.

And the Ministry of Rites was one of the important six imperial ministries of the central imperial government.  So, all the way down the levels, from the -- the state to provincial authorities, and county-level officials - all these officials of this vast imperial bureaucracy, one of their important duties was to sacrifice to their equivalent deities.  So this was a very ritualized state.

And Confucius himself - and Confucian teachings were what guided the imperial state.  Confucius himself was extremely interested into controlling the populations through ritual practice, rather than through force.  This was the original Confucius.  Of course, later on in the Han Dynasty the states really instituted a system of universal laws and punishments.  So, the gentle way of Confucius, and the harsh ways of a legalistic, you know, guided the running of the empire.

Now, Buddhism and Daoism each had their separate areas, but they never, in imperial China, had any kind of centralized organization.  So, the history of Buddhism and Daoism were less strong as a religious institution, compared with the history of the Christian church.  They had localized lineages of masters.

Then, also at the grassroots level, you had a popular religion.  These were deity cults, territorial deities, tutelary deities who protected the local community who worshipped them.  And they were also icons for local community identity - villages and towns.  You also had ghosts, shamans, spirit mediums and ancestor worship.  And you also sectarian religious movements that would spread like wildfire in times of crisis.  These were harshly persecuted by the state if the state deemed them to be dangerous to its own legitimacy.

So a lot changed in since the Opium War of the 1840s, when the Western imperialism came in.  And what Chinese educated elite, who were to lead the nationalist - various nationalist movements that sought to counter the Western incursion, what they absorbed were three crucial attitudes, I think, from Western teachings that were extremely influential in determining the course of religions in the 20th century of China.

So, I think it's very important, when we deal with and think about the religious situation in China today, not to just go off on this freedom-of-religion issue, but to think historically about how the Chinese government came to be the way it is.  What the Chinese educated elite absorbed from the West was:

One, in the 19th century, a lot of Protestant missionaries went to China, and they had a more narrow-minded attitude towards other religions than the Jesuits of earlier times.  They were very judgmental and very convinced of their rightness.  They had a contempt for what they called "idolatry" - these Chinese are superstitious; they ketou all the time; they're ignorant and backward.  So, there was a lot of feeling of Western superiority by Westerners in the 19th century.

The other thing that Chinese - so, Chinese intellectuals of the May Fourth generation, 1920s, absorbed this.  The other thing that they absorbed was the scientism coming from the West that thought that science would answer everything - this notion of absolute truth.  And, of course, the Chinese educated elite at that time was in a very nationalistic mode of wanting to become independent from the West and throw off that kind of yoke of Western colonialism, and they believed that only science and technology would save the nation.

The other - the third thing that they absorbed was this unilinear evolutionism.  This, you know, Herbert Spencer, Henry Lewis Morgan, all these important 19th century - and Karl Marx, of course, thinking in this evolutionary mode of human progress, very optimistic, and stages of development that all societies must follow, and the West had gone the furthest through all these previous stages.

So this is -- sets the scene.  So, I think that the Chinese Communist Party and its rather past destructive policies towards religious life in China is just at that endpoint of a development that has taken almost a century.  And this is not the first one to think this way; its path was laid by previous intellectual, educated elite attitudes.  So --

LAUTZ:  Mayfair, I - is it fair to say then that this pattern of state regulation of religion in China is really nothing new at all?

MAYFAIR YANG:  Well, it's nothing new since the 19th century, of this radical state secularization and state persecution of religion.  The Guo Ming Dang did it, but not as systematically.  But also before the Guo Ming Dang, the intellectual elite went out on raids of the countryside smashing false idols and so on in order to bring the ignorant masses to progress and modernization.

LAUTZ:  Well, thank you for setting the scene.  And let's come back to history.

But Brian, if we could ask you to say something about how religious China is today.  Again, there's this perception, I think, that modern China, Communist China is atheistic, that religion is, indeed, very tightly controlled.  You've done a lot of work on -- recent surveys on the subject of religion in China.  What have you found?

BRIAN GRIM:  Right.  Well, if I can start with some ancient history - 1982 (Scattered laughter.)  That's a year when the Westerners started being able to back into China.  And in that year, that's the first year I went to China and lived and worked there.  When I went, people assumed religion had died.  You know, thinking now -- it's surprising, but people didn't know whether or not religion survived at that time.

And that year when I went I found churches that were open.  I found churches that were operating that weren't open.  I found - interestingly, I walked on the streets, as in Fuchen (ph) -- the city of Quincho (ph) -- walk down the streets you would see Buddhist -- various Buddhist idols for sale.

We were on a funeral route where Buddhist funerals went past our house every day - this was 1982.  And one day, I was walking down the street and I saw some women with veils on, and a very interesting hat.  This is the city that Marco Polo left from to go back to Italy.  And I said, well, who are they - you know, because there's so many different groups in China.  And they - oh, they're Muslims.

And, you know, in 1982, just seeing this religious diversity was a shock.  I came back and shared this with some various groups and people said, "Shhh, don't tell people, that'll get them - get them in trouble."  Well, the surprise - you know, the cat's out of the bag.  Religion is a big thing in China.

Looking at surveys, one of the most - I have some amazing findings and some surprising findings.  Amazingly, in our surveys, we found that three out of 10 people in China consider religion to be "important" to "very important" in their lives, compared with only 11 percent of those surveyed who said religion is not important at all -- amazing, for a Communist country.

In the same survey, we found that six out of 10 people hold some belief that is, in one way or another, tied to some of the folk traditions that were just discussed.  And this is a country where, when I - back in '82 I would teach some songs -- I was teaching English -- taught "Row, row, row your boats," and got it going in a round, and I had large classrooms.  And I was censured for that.

That was an off-limits song - (sings) "merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream."  Well, (laughs) you know, this - life is not a dream, you know, life is evolving.  This is reality."  And, you know, just to have -- the thought that they tried to stamp out even that level of sort of superstitious belief, and it's flourishing in China today.

Another amazing thing about religion in China today is the diversity of religion.  China is one of the most diverse religious countries in the world, in terms of having representation of major -- significant representation of major world religions - Buddhism, of course, but then diversity within Buddhism.  You have Tibetan Buddhism and all kinds of folk manifestations of Buddhism, and then related to that Daoism.

You have significant Christian populations, and great diversity within Christianity.  And you have Islam, which may number more than 20 million people, which is larger than the number of Muslims that live in the European Union combined.  So these - you know, it's just a phenomenally rich religious economy in China.

LAUTZ:  And what do you think explains this remarkable resurgence and the dynamism which we do see today in so many parts of China?

GRIM:  Well, you know, for -- I think many people point to the fact that, you know, Communism itself provided an ideology, it provided - it was very religious in nature, you'd go to your Wednesday afternoon - what do they call it -- religious education - not religious -- party education -- political education sessions.  And this was like a Bible study.  You know, we would - I went to some of them, you would read, you know, writings from Chairman Mao, you would - you know, this filled - this is the sense of purpose.  And I think that in that, in that collapse of that ideology, religion naturally would fill that vacuum.

LAUTZ:  Yeah.  Thank you.

Fenggang, what is your sense of the most important themes or trends?  And how do you approach this question of explaining both the dynamism and the diversity today?  I know you've spent a lot of time on the ground in China looking at these issues.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah.  Actually I think - talking about religion in China, in the People's Republic of -- period - this period.  And one thing needs to be remembered that the Chinese constitution has been allowing the freedom of religious beliefs, even though there may be difficult periods.  But, overall, the constitution has that written.  Only that during the Cultural Revolution, the constitution was shelved.  It's not --

LAUTZ:  Is -- there are five official religions?

FENGGANG YANG:  Right.  Well, that's - yeah, the five official religions have been allowed to exist most of the time, except during the Cultural Revolution period.

LAUTZ:  Could you name them?

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah.  Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism.

LAUTZ:  And why only five?

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah, that's - if we go back to the history in the 1950s, they find that - the new government find that these religions, world religions, they have world connections.  And it's basically - even though the ideology is atheist, what you find it's not possible to eliminate.  So the secular - no, the traditional cults were suppressed, like Yi Guan Dao and other traditional sects, but these world religions all have international connections.  So - well, not Daoism, but the other four:  Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism and Islam.  And also -

LAUTZ:  You mentioned -- Confucianism didn't make the cut.

FENGGANG YANG:  Right.  (Laughs.)  Yeah, because since the May Fourth movement in 1999, Confucianism has been really on the defense, and the secularism really became dominant.  Confucianism was considered a backward ideology type.  But the interesting thing is - as you mentioned, is actually there has been a revival of Confucianism today.

It's a strong revival.  I think many people haven't paid attention to this.  This revival of Confucianism comes from scholars who study Confucianism, comes from the grassroots people.  There are people movements to re-learn Confucian scriptures, let children to memorize those Confucian scriptures, because facing these moral problems in China today, they find that Confucianism perhaps could help

But there are also support coming from the top leadership.  There is a revival of Confucius' birthday celebration.  And also this year, there are so many so-called public ceremonies called (quonchi ?) of the ancient legendary emperors, like the Yellow Emperor, and other ancient emperors.  And this is a package of revival of Confucianism.

And some people making the argument that Confucianism should be recognized as the sixth religion in China, in addition to the five.  Actually, some even advocate to make Confucianism a state religion - or "the" state religion.

LAUTZ:  And it's very interesting that many countries of the world historically, traditionally had one religion as the official state religion.  But, as you were saying, Mayfair, you see this diversity in China.

MAYFAIR YANG:  Yeah, well the state really exuded Confucianism, and the state used that as a means of keeping a order - social order in the whole imperial realm.  But the imperial state was not that penetrating, down deep into society, it basically had a kind of hands-off policy, unless there was some kidney religious peasant rebellion.  Then it would strike hard in the past.

It's really in the 20th century that the state had adopted this attitude from intellectuals of, kind of, hostility towards religions of all different forms.  But now, it's very encouraging, I think, because the latest development is that in 2005, the State Council's Bureau of Religious Affairs passed a big watershed kind of law, or regulation.  It's called Regulations on Religious Affairs.  And this allows -- some of the things that it allows now:  religious schools, religious publications, going abroad for religious study, large-scale religious activities outside of religious sites.  Before, you could only conduct activities in the temple or church or mosque.

Religious organizations can keep the proceeds of their various sort of money-making activities for religious expenditures.  They can accept donations both domestic as well as foreign.  And they are entitled to tax exemptions.  And it also forbids, explicitly, other parties from encroaching on religious property or confiscating religious property - although, of course, that's not clearly stated whether the state is exempt from that regulation. (Laughs.)

But, nevertheless, the situation has greatly improved.  I think that the recent earthquake in Sichuan Province, where it was so much devastation, and I think all religions are tied into the crucial issue that all of us face in our lives, and that is death.  And I think that can only - that stupendous earthquake event can only serve to enhance people's value of religious pursuits because what they saw -- I think, in some of the Chinese media you can see discussions of why is it that so much charitable activity came from Taiwan and Hong Kong?

And they - because, for example, like Citi -- Merrick Foundation in Taiwan, which is a very large international, transnational Buddhist organization, they were one of the first to arrive.  They are very well organized and highly - well-financed by the middle class in Taiwan, to come.  And they may have made a big impact.  And there is other Taiwanese and Hong Kong and overseas Chinese religiously-inspired charitable organizations.

So the state also -- as you know, the government has moved back a great deal from social welfare obligations that it had in the Maoist socialist period.  And it is looking for a more voluntary social welfare organization.  So, it feeds into states' ideas about, you know, letting society handle these things.

LAUTZ:  But there nonetheless seems to be this ambivalence, thinking of religion both as a source of potential support for social welfare, indeed, social stability, "harmonious society," as President Hu Jintao puts it, but also as a, as a potential threat.

And, Brian, I guess I'm wondering how you compare the situation in China today, in terms of public space, with other countries around the world - and particularly Communist states?

GRIM:  Yeah.  Well the interesting - I've done a lot of work comparing the level of government restrictions on religion across the countries of the world, and something people don't frequently look at is the levels of social restrictions on religious choice within a society.

So if you think of - you know, give one extreme example, Iran, where there's a society that is very devoted to a certain perspective on Islam, and they support, you know, in general, support restrictions.  So Bahais are, more or less, outlawed.  So in that society there's not a lot of freedom even in the society, regardless of the government.

In China, the situation is very different.  In my experience and what I've observed, that there's not so much tension between religions.  There tends to be openness within society to let people make choices to practice what they want - that's their business -- and not an overarching dominant religious philosophy in China among the society.

Now, that sets up an interesting situation where you have government regulations in China being stricter than society itself is comfortable with.  So there's -- where I think one way to look at that is that there's some room for movement on the government's side.  And I think, you know, some people take the optimistic view and think, well, maybe it's going to ease up as China feels religion can contribute, but, maybe one of the complicating factors is the Chinese mentality of regulating religion.

LAUTZ:  And regulating a lot of things.

GRIM:  Regulating a lot of things. But they've learned that they can let the economy, you know, sort of let the reins out a bit.  The question is, whether or not they're going to say, okay, we can let the reins out a bit on religion as well.

LAUTZ:  Fenggang, what do you - what do you think?  I mean, what are the implications of religion for human rights, religious freedom, democracy?  This is the hot-button issue in your - or one of the hot-button issues in U.S.-China relations.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yes, it is a hot-button issue.  But actually I was thinking about what both Dr. Yang and Brian just said.  I think -- got to distinguish these regulations and the social space.  I think there is enlargement of social space for the practice of religion.  But in terms of regulations, or start of those special sets of religious regulations, I do not see there is any relaxing.  I think, actually, it's tightening up.  Only that those tightening up religious regulations are not enforceable, because the whole economy has changed - not as a market economy, but the whole idea of religious regulations is based on the central planning economy model.  So they want to control and only allow five religions, only allow those registered through those patriotic associations of religions.

And that's just a - those regulations cannot be enforced.  So that we see all kinds of religions are growing so fast.  So I think we need to make that distinction -

LAUTZ:  Right.

FENGGANG YANG:  -- in terms of this -- the international implications, but actually I think I will leave that to Brian or others to talk about that.

But domestically, I see that there's - the people now who advocate for constitutionalism, advocate for electoral democracy, tend to be somewhat related to Western secular liberalism, plus Christianity.  There has been a rise of Christian lawyers in the last few years.

They have been making - really making some progress, challenging the malpractice of local government authorities in treating those marginal groups of people.  They try to see the contradictions between the constitution and some specific regulations.  So, I think if there's an increase - continuous increase of Christians, there is that tendency, a growing sense of constitutionalism, electoral democracy and individual freedom.

But then the government -- I see that they tend to favor traditional religions - Confucianism, Buddhism and now also Daoism.  I see this as a package of traditionalist religions that the government seems to be nourishing, helping.  So if you see there is religious regulations - if you ask a Buddhist monk, he may totally disagree because he sees there's no restriction, he can do anything he wants.  But that's a Buddhist monk.  The same thing may not apply to a Catholic priest.  So there are differences.

So there's a traditionalist package of - there's Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoist revivals.  I think that also the Confucian advocates even say that democracy is not something we desire because it's not useful in Chinese society.  So they advocate for some benign autocracy, benign authoritarianism.  That seems to, you know, best.

So there's alternative ideological ideals, or political ideals.  I think the revival - if that continues, the revival of Confucianism plus Buddhism and Daoism, that would pull China in one direction, and the continuous increase of Catholics, Protestants and secular liberalism, or classic liberalism, would pull China to another direction.

And also, how does the Communist Party play?  Because the Party in form is for democracy, but at the same time the reality of - you know, it's not the Western understanding of electoral democracy yet, so does the party shift to the traditionalists?  Or does that shift to the more constitutionalist direction?  It's really uncertain at this time.  Really, all forces are fighting out.

LAUTZ:  And on this issue of enforcement, it sounds very similar to the problem of enforcing environmental regulations, environmental laws in China, where the state regulations are actually comprehensive and very strong, but the implementation at the local level is the problem.

GRIM:  Yeah.  I -

LAUTZ:  At this point - Brian, I'm sorry, do you want to say something?

GRIM:  I was just going to make one comment on U.S. perspectives on China and the foreign policy relations.  You know, there's a number of connections that policymakers have, or constituencies that they feel loyal to.  For example, Nancy Pelosi's, you know, advocacy on behalf of - behalf of the Dalai Lama - these, sort of, connections that people have, on a religious level even, influence foreign policy.

Another is, there's a - in the United States, you know, we have mainline churches and we have evangelical churches.  Mainline churches tend to side with the Three-Self churches in China.  And that's where the Chinese government is trying to fit all the Protestant Christians, or all the Catholic Christians in that organization.  And that would be sort of like trying to get the Southern Baptists and the Episcopals to come together and say we're - we're all one.  You know, that's -- that's the problem.

So when you have some folks looking at China, they're saying, well, China does have freedom - you know, look at the Amity Foundation, look at what the Three-Self is doing, they're printing Bibles.  But then you have other folks saying, well, look at - look at these others that are in churches that don't affiliate and being persecuted.  So --

LAUTZ:  These are the so-called "house churches" or --

GRIM:  House churches --

LAUTZ:  -- underground churches?

GRIM:  Right, or - yes, house churches.  And many independent churches they -- you know, they proliferate.

So, you know, as the U.S. community, including the foreign policy community, looks at China, you may see - people may see very different things.  And, for example, Xinjiang and Tibet are the two hot-spots - Xinjiang, with the large Muslim population; Tibet, with the Tibetan Buddhist population.  And, you know, there's a lot of sympathy - Tibet is right below, south of Xinjiang.  Well, you don't hear too much about Xinjiang because they don't have a Dalai Lama.  So, you know, these personalities, and connections that people have, influence how we're viewing what's going on in China.  So I think that's part of the mix.

MAYFAIR YANG:  On the question of house churches, I think that attitudes in China may be starting to shift, because recently there was a important interview in this e-journal - academic, kind of, e-journal called (Tyen Yi ?), an interview by a very influential person, -- (inaudible) - who's with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Rural Institute.

And he interviewed two leaders of house churches in Anhui Province and in Qindiao.  And the fact that it wasn't closed down, and the fact that these house church representatives were allowed to speak out on the e-journal, I think is very significant because right now the estimate is 100 million Christians in China, 70 percent of which are house church members.  And I think for the state not to recognize this huge population would be a mistake.  And there might be some new thinking afoot.  We don't know how it will play out.

But I think that, for the West, you know, when it deals with China I think it's good not to have such a harsh, judgmental attitude because one must understand the history that China really came to have a very hostile attitude to religion because it learned it at the hands of the West, of the 19th century West - it's a little out of date.  But the West was very - there wasn't very much notion of freedom of religion in the 19th century because the West, you know - Christianity was the name of the game in the 19th century, was the West that China encountered.

And the intellectuals thought that this was the secret recipe to modernization and success.  So one has to keep this history in mind, that it's ironic that China today - now changing, of course, but the Communist Party is the recipient of this harsh attitude that the - judgmental attitude that the West itself had before.

LAUTZ:  Back to the future.  (Laughter.)

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah, I want to echo this.  Actually in China now many people are in the academia and also in the government trying to change, make changes, make it possible to opening up.  Only that I see there is a paradigm that the current regulation is based on that's so outdated.  Actually, I could even say it's really based on the 1950s ideology, putting religion under the control of ideology.  And the currently policy like it's still not allowed denominations exist within any religion; that was the 1958 policy, when all the religions are united -- Protestant, Baptist and Episcopals have to meet in one congregation, and now still not allowed.  And so that's the 1958 policy, and that still continues.

That's the mentality or the paradigm.  But the other people -- the scholars and also government officials who have learned about the new things or the new thinking -- they try to change this.  But it's just so hard to change it because the people tend to stay with the current course.  They even do not dare to say there are more than 100 million religious believers because that was a number given in the 1950s by Premier Zhou Enlai.  And no one dared to say there are more than 100 million believers, but even though in the reality or under the table or behind the scenes they say, "Oh yeah, there are many more."

So this is a paradigm.  There is a mentality.  That's hard to change.

LAUTZ:  Paradigm and paradox.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah.

LAUTZ:  At this point, I'd like to open up for -- and invite our members and guests to join in this conversation and make brief comments or questions.  And if you could wait for the microphone that will be coming around and speak into the mike directly, and if you could stand and let us know who you are and what your affiliation is before you ask the question.

QUESTIONER:  Good morning.  Chymon Sargent (ph) from the John Templeton Foundation.

I want to ask a question for all the panelists, but especially Fenggang, about -- Fenggang, you were talking a little bit about there's a possible zero-sum relation, almost, as I took it, between kind of the government favoritism of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism versus kind of the other approved religions.  And I'm just wondering -- this is dangerous now; I start thinking in my American categories about how we think about civil religion here, sort of non-established, kind of culturally persuasive, it has influence of -- historically had a lot associations with Protestantism, but there's a lot of kind of patriotic and national elements to it that I think has benefited other religious traditions in this country.

Is there a possibility that as the Chinese leadership embraces kind of Confucianism more as kind of a -- I don't know the right category is kind of a national religion, a cultural system -- that it could also be of benefit to other religious traditions?

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah, certainly.  I don't see this as, you know, two contradicting categories.  I do see, actually, the things being played out.

Yeah, there are people who desire to make Confucianism a state religion, but the counter-forces are strong enough to make it difficult to achieve that.  So overall I think it's going to be some kind of combination.

Actually, I think -- Confucianism is not really -- scholarly speaking, it is not like the other religions.  Yeah, it's a "cultural religion," quote/unquote, that could be inclusive, could accommodate the other religions like what it used to do to Buddhism and Taoism.  It allowed the others; only to provide a cultural identity for the Chinese.

So, yeah, eventually it's really -- you know, in China now there are people talking about three intellectual forces:  the new left, the new right and the new Confucians.  (Laughter.)  And the three forces, I see them playing out -- it's not going to be one overwhelmingly dominant over the others, but some balances of evolvement.

MAYFAIR YANG:  I had thought about Dr. Yang's -- Fenggang Yang's discussion about how Christianity is more tied up with notions of democracy, and the traditional Chinese religions are more with a kind of benign authoritarianism.  And I guess I want to complicate the picture a bit more because there is a lot of democratic spirit, especially in a religion like Taoism, whose tradition started as a form of popular kind of rebellion against the centralized state in its early history.

And Taoism, in terms of its organization, is very much rooted in grassroots, local communities.  And in the philosophy of Taoism, one would say, there are a lot escapist elements.  There is a lot anarchistic elements in Taoism.  And Buddhism tries to diminish the importance we place on human desires in this temporal world.

And so all those things I think would contribute to a more democratic society.  But we mustn't impose a Western definition of democracy because if you adhere too strictly to a Western notion of democracy, you're going to get into a lot of trouble because these other societies of the world, they don't -- they're not economically in the same place as the West because -- so, for example, if you introduce a multiparty system into Africa, as we've seen in Africa and what's going on now, this kind of multiparty, it creates civil war.  In Africa at certain moments it may not be a good idea to introduce this kind of agonistic struggle/opposition kind of thing because these societies were carved out by the imperial nations and they have multiethnic divisions.  And it could be quite harmful to impose a strict.

But what I see about popular Chinese religions -- Taoism and deity cultists -- is that they really contribute to a bit-by-bit development of local civil society.  They are responsible for maintaining -- they are conducive to maintaining local economy from the centralized state because they promote self-organization and self-initiation of social activities for community improvement; they promote social welfare and charity.  And also they are a means for strengthening local identity because they have their tutelary deities who protect the local area and represent local society.

So all these things I think bring local communities together.  And to establish a truly democratic society you mustn't start at the top with a, you know, artificial political apparatus introduced from another -- a foreign land.  It just won't hold.  You have to build it up gradually from the ground up at its very social fabric and social foundations through promoting civil society first.

I just want to plug my new book for anyone who's interested -- (laughter) -- because several of the people at this symposium are contributors.  It's an edited book called "Chinese Religiosities:  Afflictions of Modernity and State Formation."  Coming later this year; University of California Press.

LAUTZ:  Great.  Thank you for complicating the picture.  (Laughter.)

Did you want to add some more, or?

QUESTIONER:  Yeah, just one comment.

I wonder how much mainland China might learn from the example of Taiwan in this issue, and that, you know, Taiwan has increasingly become more religiously free and yet religion hasn't complicated Taiwan's picture.  So you know, as these discussions are happening today go forth, I wonder what impact Taiwan might have on the mainland.

LAUTZ:  Right.  And Mayfair Yang earlier mentioned that Dick Madsen -- Richard Madsen, who is speaking on a panel later today has recently author a book on the Tzu Chi called "Democracy's Dharma" and he'll be able to speak to this issue in particular.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah.  I was going to point out Professor Madsen's new book is really looking at that religious organization -- traditional religious organizations -- Tzu Chi, Fo Guang Shan and Fa Gu Shan (ph) -- could contribute to this rising democracy.

But whether that can be applied to mainland China now, that's a question.  It may not be directly can burrow into China because over the 50 years of this -- the system that the religious organizations in mainland China is very different from that in Taiwan, even if the same.  The Catholic Church in mainland and in Taiwan, the Buddhist groups in mainland and in Taiwan, they are different.  And those groups need to modernize themselves first in order to play some positive roles in the rising -- or in the emerging democracy.

The Buddhist groups in mainland China, those that I studied, I got familiar with, how civil as a civil society organization, that's a question.

LAUTZ:  And another example along these lines is Li Quan Yu's efforts to implement Confucianism as the bedrock for a benign authoritarian state, and by the way this might or might not apply to the mainland of China.

But let's get another question on -- yes, back here please.

QUESTIONER:  Tim Ferguson with Forbes Magazine.

Could one of you place the state repression of Falun Gong in this context?

LAUTZ:  Mayfair?

MAYFAIR YANG:  Yeah, I think that the state is a, you know, kind of long line of continuity with the imperial state on this because Falun Gong is kind of -- I think the state kind of overreacted because, you know, the late imperial state always had trouble dealing with sectarian religious movements.

So this is kind of -- it brought back this category of -- the Chinese Communist Party brought back this imperial Chinese category of hejiao (ph), "evil cult" -- it's translated "evil cult" today, but it could also be translated "heterodox cult," which means "unacceptable cult."  Which -- so -- (laughs) --

LAUTZ:  This is a distinction between religion and superstition?  Is that right?

MAYFAIR YANG:  It's a distinction between acceptable orthodox religion and heterodox cult.  And it was kind of interesting to see a, you know, late 20th century secular state bring back this category from the imperial government of before.

GRIM:  And one other thing with Falun Gong was that it was -- came, you know, as a complete shock and surprise.  And many of these groups from the past were secretive societies, had special codes, and so it may have triggered that reaction that, you know, here's another one of these, we don't know what they're doing, where they've come from.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah, I want to put this in a bigger perspective.

In the 1980s and 1990s in China, there were hundreds of chigong groups.  Falun Gong was one of them and may not be the largest one.  There were --

LAUTZ:  How would you define chigong?

FENGGANG YANG:  Oh, chigong, well, it could be simply physical exercise, slow-motion exercise, but it adds a spiritual element into it.  So there were cheungun (ph) that if you do some simple gesture, it could generate a fragrance.  So attracted many people.  Then there was junegun (ph).  That's also a national, very well organized chigong system.

So, Falun Gong was the latest that came onto the scene.  It was founded in 1992.  But in the 1980s, many groups spread out in China.  You go to China in the 1980s, 1990s, go to parks, you'd see all of them, all kinds of them practicing.  Some of them became so well organized, that became a threat to the people in the position.

Since 1999, all those chigong groups were banned -- have been banned -- they're not allowed.  But chigong is allowed, but it's only branch -- well, not branch, one branch; it's called health chigong.  If you do chigong for physical health, that's fine but don't make it a spiritual organization.

MAYFAIR YANG:  I wanted to add to that that, again there is this irony in that China -- Chinese government is again importing something from the west.  This notion of cult; it comes from -- there is a lot of borrowing.  As David Palmer, who has an article tracing the history of Chinese state attitudes towards sectarian religious movements all the way down to the Falun Gong in my book.

He shows how recently since the banning of Falun Gong, the state has supported a lot of academic research into western social science notions of cult and the deprogramming of cult members.  And they've sent people to the United States and Japan to study new religions and how to deal with and thwart these weird new cults and religions.

So, again, they're borrowing western social science to do something that the west may not support, but it's coming from the west too.

LAUTZ:  Walter?

MEAD:  Walter Mead, Council on Foreign Relations.

As I listen to this difference between the regulation, which is rather strict, and then the practice, which becomes a little bit more lax given the rising diversity of Chinese society, it strikes me that the relationship of the Catholic Church to the state is a very interesting one because if we think of Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism -- in a sense, the three religions which aren't part of your favored group -- Islam and Protestantism tend to be somewhat decentralized and so may benefit from the relaxation in practice.  But for the Catholic Church to really flourish, it needs some kind of change in the official relationship between the Communist state and the Vatican.

What do you think are the prospects for getting a concordat or some kind of arrangement between the Catholic Church and the state?  And -- I know there's been some appearance of movement lately, can we be hopeful about that future? (Laughter.)

FENGGANG YANG:  This is a difficult question because it has been hopeful for quite a number of years.  And here are people working behind the scenes very hard.  Sometimes they're making one step and then maybe two steps backward.  It's just so complicated.  There are so many other factors playing into this.

And in terms of priority, you know, think about the current government authorities, there are interesting economic evolvements; that has been the central task.  Anything that is beneficial to that, they will have a more positive attitude toward it.  Anything that's not in favor of economic development they will put aside as not a priority.

So I think the relationship with the Vatican is really -- is not -- just simply not a priority in their agenda.  I don't see huge obstacles.  You know, it's not -- it's -- I think the two sides are getting quite close.  It's simply it's there are other priorities for the government to work on.

LAUTZ:  And of course, there is still the problem of Taiwan and the fact that the Vatican recognizes and has diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

FENGGANG YANG:  I believe that's not a real issue anymore.

LAUTZ:  Okay.

FENGGANG YANG:  This issue is the control of who appoints the bishops, because that's really -- is that internal affairs or is that religious affairs?  So that's a definition.

But, you know, that still -- that can work out just like, you know, Vietnam model or some models people are talking about.  All plans are on the table, you can discuss.  Simply, the Chinese government has more urgent things to take care of.  That's my view.

LAUTZ:  There's expertise in the audience on this, I expect.  Is there a follow-up comment or question?  And if not, I think there was a question over here -- yes.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  Josh Walker, Princeton University.

The title of the panel that we were talking about is The New Dynamic Change in Landscape, right?  And it's interesting, when I was listening to the way that everybody was describing it, we had the landscape in China domestically, we had the international landscape.  And we also -- it sounded like we had challenges and opportunities that religion represents.  And it seemed like we were focusing mostly on the challenges, you know, for the state, for the republic -- and perhaps this question might be directed towards the next panel as well, but I wanted to get your sense here.

As the landscape for religion has changed globally and internationally, and when you laid out the five religions and the importance because they were connected internationally, how does that impact the Chinese government and the Chinese people as the landscape for religion globally changes specifically from an American context post-9/11?  When you talk about China as having 20 million Muslims, that puts it in a very different context as it reaches out to other Muslim nations and tries to develop relations.

How does that impact China?

LAUTZ:  Brian, do you want to take a crack at that?

GRIM:  Well, you know, the world in China is -- many Chinese people are coming and going from China today.  So the commerce, the dialogue between Chinese today is much different than it was 20, 30 years ago where you might only find, you know, one in a million Chinese outside the country.  Today, you go places and you see more Chinese in international venues than you might see other nationalities.

So, I think that, you know, for sure, as China integrates and -- you know, and the Chinese population itself has more ties, the policy behind the three self -- these five -- well, the Protestant three self-church, which is self-propagating, self-supporting and self-administrating, and that's what they're aiming for is that these churches don't have any outside influence, it becomes more difficult to maintain that.

So where that's going in the future I'm not sure, but the reality will be that, you know, they are in a globalized world and the connections are almost impossible to control.

FENGGANG YANG:  On that, I think actually works playing out in China could have implications for the whole world.

Just take -- one example is Chinese Islam.  I'm not talking about chingjong (ph), but the Hui Muslims in China have -- they have been there for thousands of years and they have accommodated to the Chinese system of -- (inaudible) -- Confucianism.  And that's -- I think the west does not know much about the Chinese Islam.

Chinese Islam could have something really interesting if we learn more about them.  How do they live as a minority in a large country?  Instead of becoming confrontational, conflicting all the time -- but live in peace.  And I guess -- I wonder whether it has anything to do with their integration with Confucianism.

And if earlier I sounded more suspicious of Confucianism, I do want to put some positive light on that.  Actually, personally, I also feel so.  I think Confucianism and Islam accommodates to each other and then there's some kind of peace -- peaceful existence.  The same could be true if Confucianism and Christianity get more accommodated to each other, adapt and integrate.  There may not be that perceived conflict between the Confucian world and the Christian world.

In fact, in my own study, I have a book on display, "The Chinese Christians in America," I find most Chinese Christians -- both in the U.S. or those in Hong Kong or in mainland China -- most of them we could even label them as Confucian Christians.  It's no conflict.  They're incorporated -- Confucian ideas and Christian beliefs.  And that may be hopeful if we do more research and make that evolve.

QUESTIONER:  One more thing.  There is a -- from an American point of view we think of if someone's a Christian they would be opposed to communism and therefore opposed to what's going on in China.

For most Chinese believers -- thinking of Christians and all believers -- they love their country; you know the vast majority do.  So I think that that's a dynamic that this nationalism, which we saw with the Torch Race going around the world where Chinese who are in, you know, San Francisco outnumbered the protestors, not just because the consulate organized them, but because they really love their country and want to support it.

So I think that's another dynamic involved with religion that even though China wants to make sure they are self-propagating and self-supporting, the churches really do also love their country, or many, many do.

LAUTZ:  Yes.  Please, yes.  Sorry.

QUESTIONER:  Hi, my name's Betsy Daman and I worked in China for 10 years.  And I hear you talking about several things, but what I experienced is that there's what Beijing says and there's then what -- which sometimes -- and that's what we hear about in the press.  And then there's this whole other dynamic happening around the country, which occasionally uses what Beijing says as an excuse to say to me, "You can't do that."  But, generally functions independently.

I was taken by a rogue monk around to all kinds of self-started Buddhist things in Dahlian.  I was completely shocked.  I mean, he offered to take me on a holiday for other reasons, but this is what my holiday was.  And, you know, like abandoned wonderful places were tuned into Buddhist -- something that hadn't succeeded economically was turned into a Buddhist meeting center.  A reclaiming of a cave; now that the government suddenly interfered and wouldn't let them open them.  But they'll keep going and they will open it.

And with the Shinjian people there, it's actually a lot of rebellion with the Ouiger and the Hui.  There's a certain amount of discontent in Kashgar and places like that and there have been -- they have gotten along, but the recent - - they used -- the Chinese government used 9/11 to crack down.  So it's a very complicated dance there that -- I don't know if you could talk to a little more, but I experienced as a foreigner working there --

LAUTZ:  Specifically on Shinjian --

QUESTIONER:  The question isn't that clear.  It's just like all these things --

MAYFAIR YANG:  Yeah, I think you do point to an important reality in China, and that is that there is a system of laws and regulations of the central government, but down below, people basically do whatever they can get away with.

And that is the situation because China as a culture is not a legalistic culture like the United States is an extremely legalistic culture.  We're highly regulated here in the United States.  And it's hard because we have also this ideology of freedom, but, actually, one could say that in many places around the world where things don't operate according to laws and laws are not enforced systematically, that there is more freedom.

So, in China it's a very personalistic society.  It's based on the importance of social relations.  So if you have extremely good social relations that you cultivated with your local officials, that local official can look the other way.  And so down at the grassroots, a lot of that happens, which doesn't get into the media.  It's exactly true.

LAUTZ:  We have time for one last question.

Back here please.

QUESTIONER:  My name's Tony Carnes.  I'm with Christianity Today.

I have a question.  There was this very fast growth of Christianity in modern China, now there's sort of a palls particularly in the countryside.  There's some growth in the urban areas.  Social movements tend to go really fast and then they either sort of go in quiescence or disintegrate or they find a new way to go -- even another plateau of growth.

I was wondering, what kind of prognostications do you have about particularly the Protestants in China.  Are they in a palls or in a downward movement or are they doing things that we can expect something -- another spurt of growth in the next couple of years?

Thank you.

FENGGANG YANG:  About the Christian growth, my personal observation based on field work -- I traveled a lot in China -- I think currently Christianity still grows fast and strong, and -- especially in the cities, in urban areas in the last few years.

There are migrant workers, there are churches among them, there are also those for intellectuals; college students and college graduates.  Those unregistered churches, they have grown.  Some of them become so big they meet in office buildings with several hundred people.  Some, even more than 1,000 people attending service.

I didn't see this even five years ago.  This is really new in the last three or four years.  I see this as a continuing trend.  But at the same time, if we think about history, in the 19 -- you know, after the Boxer Rebellion in the 1900s, that was a downturn of Christian growth, but then in the next two decades, Christianity grew very fast.

By the 1920s, there was a strong anti-Christian movement among intellectuals; the anti-Christian movement in the 1920s.  So then it slowed down Christian growth but then during the war and after the war, there was another rapid growth of Christianity.

Many similar -- social conditions seems to be similar to the 1920s or late 1910s and early 1920s now.  It's the revival of this traditionalist package of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism; it became political.  Then that could mean a slow down of Christian growth.  But if that -- if not, the revival of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism -- if that revival is not dominant by the fundamentalist type -- you know, fundamentalist Confucianist, fundamentalist Buddhist, fundamentalist Daoist -- then it could be helpful to create greater social space for the growth of all religions, Christianity included.

LAUTZ:  If I may borrow just a few more minutes since we got started just a wee bit late, I'd like to ask each of you in conclusion if you could just in a few words say what you believe is the single biggest misconception about religion in China -- the religious landscape in China.

Brian, could you start?

GRIM:  I think the biggest misconception is that religious interest is low and that religion is probably something confined to older people, to people in the countryside.

All those things are false.  You know, the greatest interest, as Mayfair Yang said, is in the cities; I mean, there's interest in the rural areas but cities are interested.  There's interest across all age groups, there's interest across all income groups and there's interest -- men and women have equal interest.

So, even speaking to the last question, all of that interest is there, and yet, more than 70 percent of the Chinese population don't register affiliation with a religion, which means that there's a lot of room -- there's a lot of un-churched people out there, so to speak, for whatever religion you're talking about.  So it has the potential to be a very competitive religious marketplace yet down the road.  (Laughter.)

LAUTZ:  Mayfair, what would you say is the biggest misconception we have?

MAYFAIR YANG:   The biggest misconception in the west or United States?

LAUTZ:  Outside of China.  U.S., if you want to make it particular to one country.

MAYFAIR YANG:  (Laughs.)  I guess there is a notion that you have this -- the misconception is that you have this traditional, despotic state that crushes down on religious life.  And, you know, what I've been saying, pretty much today is that it's really only since the 20th century that you have this state -- embarked on radical state secularization.  And this idea actually came from the west -- from the enlightenment west and it's kind of various ideologies of scientism and progress and modernization and evolutionism.  These all came from the west itself.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah.  One thing I think I would like point out is when people in the west talk about religious freedom in China, they make it sound like the authority is in one voice, one position.  It's not.

I think there are people in the leadership who wants greater opening up -- open greater -- more, and there are those who try to hold the outdated ideological positions.  Got to the more sophisticated to understand the complexity.  It's not mono -- you know, one unified position in the top leadership.  It's not.

And one example in the central quadrant school, someone led a team to plan out for further reforms.  That team suggested that the Communist Party membership should not have the condition of atheist belief.  The Communist Party should open to religious believers to become members.  I think that's quite significant, and also that's more up to date with market economy and also as what they call the -- (inaudible) -- rather than a revolutionary party, the party now is the ruling party, not revolutionary party.

The ruling party -- we need to welcome all those progressive forces including religious believers.  I think that's -- we need to know about this and -- so actually in fact, there are Communist Party members who are religious believers.  And the number is increasing.  So I think it's only a matter of time when the party constitution would revise.

GRIM:  On that, we analyzed a survey across China, and of all the occupational groups across China the group that expressed the most interest in learning about religion was government employees and party members; far and above all other occupational groups in China.

LAUTZ:  Brian Grim, Mayfair Yang, Fenggang Yang, thank you so much. (Applause.)

We now have a 15-minute break, and we'll reconvene at 10:00.  Or else.  (Laughter.)

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This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

MINKY WORDEN:  Thank you all for joining us today.  And we're following our excellent first session with the second session of our symposium on religion and the future of China.

I'd like to give a brief reminder to everyone to turn off and not to put on vibrate your cell phones, Blackberrys and all wireless devices.  They will interfere with our sound system here and give a very unattractive feedback.  I'd also like to remind the audience that this meeting is on the record.  Participants from around the world will be listening in and have the ability to view a live webcast on the Council's website.

And I would like to introduce our speakers today.  In the materials that you have, there are very extensive biographical details, so I will just introduce them very briefly.  Professor Dru Gladney who's the president of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College; Professor Rebecca Nedostup, the assistant professor of Chinese history at Boston College; and Professor Robert Barnett the research scholar and the head of the Modern Tibetan Studies department at Columbia University.  So I will give a very brief and brisk introduction to the -- this session is titled Religion and the State.  So a very quick framing because we have a lot of ground to cover today and I want to leave a lot of time for questions from the audience.

This year has been a very difficult and important year for China and for Chinese leaders.  Last October, we had the party congress.  In March, we had the Tibet protest followed by a crackdown that is still ongoing.  In March, we had the Szechwan earthquake -- in May, we had the Szechwan earthquake.  And the Olympics in Beijing and seven cities across China will begin August 8, 2008, at 8:08 pm.  That's a very lucky day in the -- on the Chinese calendar.

So I'd like to ask all of our speakers to say a very quick -- to give a brief introduction to certain topics.  Rebecca is going to do the sweep of Chinese history in relation to religion and the state.  It's a very challenging framing exercise.  We're going to go then to Robby Barnett who is going to talk about the Tibetan history and the Tibetan autonomous region but also deal most particulary with the recent protest and the crackdown and also what is ahead for Tibet.  For example, when the torch relay goes to Lhasa at the end of June.  And Dru Gladney is going to talk about the Ouiger autonomous region and some of the challenges there.

So let me turn it first over to Rebecca for an overview and a -- to lead us into the discussion.

REBECCA NEDOSTUP:  Thanks so much.  I'm a bit lucky in my task because for those of you who were here for the first session, Professor Mayfair Yang did a bit of my work for me, so I want to pick up a little bit on some of the things she said.  And especially if you place the history of the development of the relationship of state and religion in China in the 20th century, not just in terms of Chinese history but in terms of world history because it really is -- that development really is a world historical development, and that's something that's not often talked about.  Because the changes that we have when in the shift from the imperial government to modern representative government is a really important one because, yes, the imperial state often had cause to stigmatize certain kinds of religious groups, particular as heterodox as was talked about in the first session, not just because of the social threat, but because of the religious role that the state, particularly the emperor and officials in their guise as representatives of the emperor played themselves because they represented the balance of the cosmos -- they represented the pivot point between heaven and earth.

And so when certain heterodox groups rose up to challenge that role, that was a very important challenge.  But it is important to remember that they also often were required to carry out religious rituals in their role as representatives of the government.  So when the last dynasty falls, that all changes.  And in the move to elected representative governments of various kinds, that is gone. And so, what we have then in the 20th century is different states coming into competition with religious community organizations for resources.  Sometimes that's direct competition for financial resources, sometimes for temple property and for the other kinds of economic resources that religious organizations can command.  And sometimes that's in competition for the affections of people.  And in times when the state is very strong or mobilizational in the early 20th Century and during the cultural revolution as well, there's a sense that modern citizens should cast all their affections as citizens to the state rather than to religious affiliations and any other kind of social affiliation.  And at other times when the state is looser, you can have multiple affiliations.  So there is this sense of competition.

But the other thing that I would like to bring out -- and this is sort of the world historical context -- is the idea of what religion is changes as well at the beginning of the 20th century.  And this was alluded to in the morning session.  When constitutionalism is introduced with the idea of freedom of religion, that brings with it the need to determine what religion is.  That brings with it a new vocabulary, i.e. the name religion, Tsungiao (sp) in Chinese which did not exist in the Chinese vocabulary before the turn of the 20th century.  There is and idea of religions of course in the sense of there is Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, et cetera, et cetera.  But the idea of religion as a discrete category distinguishable from politics, from science, and so on is something that is introduced from the West.

And so what should religion look like?  It carries with it this neologism, the idea that religion is something that looks -- ought to look particularly like Christianity, particularly like Protestant Christianity, something that has a visible text, something where people go to church once a week so that you have this oddity of, in the early 20th century of Buddhists trying to create Buddhist church where you go to Buddhist church once a week.  That's a very short-lived unsuccessful movement.  But there is -- this is a cultural ideal and so this is something that we still see today in a lot of analyses of freedom of religion and even surveys of religions.  When we count people who have religious affiliations, what are we counting?  Are we counting people who sign up for a particular faith or belief 24-7, and does that necessarily go against how -- what the traditional view of Chinese religious practice is, which is extremely eclectic and can include a variety of things ranging from funerary practice to ancestral veneration and so-on and so forth.  And so this is a consistent struggle, both an intellectual struggle and a political struggle throughout the 20th century, of classification both ion the governmental level and on the academic intellectual level of trying to fit a very multitudinous religious practice into these slots. And so this is -- this is the sort of framework in the 20th century that state and religion fits into.

So when freedom of religion is guaranteed it is often guaranteed to institutionalized religions that eventually end up into the five religions that we have today guaranteed.  And the other corollary is that is in most Chinese constitutions from the early ones in the late Ching Dynasty there's the corollary of freedom of religion is guaranteed except where determined by law.  And that's something that's adopted actually from the Meiji constitution in Japan.  So there's always this kind of gray area attached to freedom of religion as well.  So those are the few things that I would like to bring out at the outset in terms of the overall framework of state of religion.

WORDEN:  That's a very good transition moment because it is all in the implementation of course of the law.  So we'd like to move along to cover a couple of important regions and themes.  And for the next two speakers I'd like, if you'd be interested to -- if you're not familiar with the areas we're going to be talking about, we have a map at the back of your materials here.  And we're going to move on to Professor Barnett who will speak about recent developments in Tibet and challenges there.  But before I ask him to speak, I'd like to recognize a Tibetan monk who's in the audience with us today.  Paul Den Gatzo (sp) if you would mind standing is visiting the Council today from Dampala (sp).  He is a monk that has experienced torture but tells his story as a way of explaining the experience of many religious Tibetans, and I wanted to recognize him. Thank you. (Applause.)

Robbie if you wouldn't mind picking up with a brief overview of the history of the Tibetan autonomous region, emphasis on autonomy ,and talking about the latest developments.

ROBERT BARNETT:  Well, thank you.  To follow on from what Professor Nedostup has said, the same kind of problem exists when we think about Tibet.  The problem I think is twofold.  One is for us as Westerners.  Following the Western project we tend to think of religion as somehow emotional and we tend to think of the state as somehow rational.  And I think China, the state, goes with that set of premises also when it thinks about an area like Tibet.  It tries to produce this flattening project that you described so well, and apply a set of ideas and regulations across China, including the areas that it has annexed very recently as if they were all much the same, as if religion as a unitary thing that can be dealt with in fairly similar ways.

In Tibet, this kind of approach, this super-rational approach of the Chinese state, the Chinese bureaucrat has caused huge problems, momentous collapse in the relations between state and society.  One of the problems is that historically, if I should address that, Tibet was never an integral part of China.  It had some kind of status within the Chinese empire, but not strictly even the Chinese empire in the Mongol empire under the Yuan and the Manchu empire under the Ching.  It had some rule there.  There was a Chinese commissioner, actually two commissioners would be established there.  And essentially they had very little involvement in Tibetan affairs except for foreign relations and things like that.  So Tibet never really saw the Chinese officials or any Chinese state until -- after 1904, the British invaded.  That provoked the Chinese to move toward annexing Tibet as if it were an integral part of China.

Moving towards setting it up as a province, the Chinese invaded in 1910.  They failed because the Ching Dynsasty collapsed in 1911.  Tibet declared independence a couple of years later,  but Mao, of course, was able to move in in 1950 with the People's Liberation Army.  And then he established what seemed to Tibetans at the time something that was really welcome, the idea of Tibet, which he defined just as the central and western areas of the plateau, as an autonomous area.  That autonomy in a very real sense was allowed to exist for eight years.  That project collapsed in 1959 as you probably all know, the Dalai Lama fled, there was an uprising, and then there was 20 years in which, more or less, there was an attempt to wipe out religion.  Some 95 (percent), 96 percent of monasteries had been closed down before the cultural revolution began -- several years before.  We have to be careful about thinking of the Cultural Revolution as the only site in which religion is seen as the enemy of the state.  In Tibet and other areas that had happened much earlier.

From 1980, we get a very, very interesting attempt by China under Hu Yaobang to move back to the 1950s dispensation, an idea of giving Tibet some form of real autonomy.  By that time it wasn't you allowed the traditional government to continue as they had in the 1950s, the idea was a cultural and economic idea of autonomy, much more limited but still very welcome to Tibetans who can practice your religion Hu Yaobang said.  You can have your own administrators, the Chinese officials should leave, something that made him very unpopular in China; and you can have an economy that is developed according to local criteria of benefit, what we would call a Tibetan-centered notion of development.  There's some protests in 1987.  The Chinese state reacts very strongly to those and this dispensation, the 1980s cultural autonomy phase, is ended.  And really, it's the ending of that cultural autonomy that brings us to the situation we're in now.  It wasn't an ending that was really done by security forces.

In the first six years or so after the protests of 1987, the state tried to deal with religion and with politics by using essentially police forces.  You arrested people.  For a while, you tried torture, then they backed off that, they learned that that was counterproductive to use in large scale.  They tried to control information especially after '93 and so on.  But it was only in 1994 that a new leader was sent to Tibet by Beijing who decided that the problem of nationalism in Tibet was not what we would call a political problem or a security problem.  He decided it was a cultural, religious problem.

And the leadership in Tibet formulated a phrase which has enormous significance for everyone in Tibet and all of us which is, it's never been made public but we understand something like this, "the roots of nationalism in Tibet are in the language, and the roots of the language are in the religion, and the roots of the language are in culture."  Sometimes the formulation varies.  This meant that the Chinese state had decided to treat religion and culture in Tibet as a security problem.  Essentially, what happens in the Chinese administration, not consciously -- this is a historical resurgence of old imperial dynastic fears about religion that religion is a political problem.  That religion is something to do with sects, that's -- we heard about this morning that you have to regulate and control politically.

And then China began in 1994 the campaign against the Dalai Lama.  There'd never been criticisms of the Dalai Lama as a religious figure in the 1980s.  He was criticized only politically.  Then there were very strict rules brought in in the monasteries, and all the monks, nuns were required then to denounce the Dalai Lama.  And continually we see more and more limits on religion in Tibet.  Some of those limits are rational.  You or I might not agree with the decision not to allow monks who are under 18 (years old), not to allow monks to be members of a monastery unless they are patriotic, that's a requirement.  But we can understand why a government might do that; it makes sense.  But it does not make sense to Tibetans, and I don't think it makes sense to Chinese in the metropol in the center of China, why China has rules in Tibet and I think we'll hear more about Chizhang (ph) that say no government employee, whether or not they're in the party, is allowed to practice religion.  No student is allowed to practice religion or go to a monastery and so on.

So there we see a leakage of the rational state which regulates religion to fundamentally a pathological state an anxiety-driven kind of regulatory machine that starts to make rules that it can't explain.  Those rules are secret.  They're not distributed in writing.  Rules that it hasn't got a rationale for.  And in that situation we get a much bigger split between state and society.  And I think that's what's led to the protests this spring -- or one of the major factors -- the continual push against religion for incoherent unexplained reasons.  And that's produced a very important result now but we've seen protests in the last two months from maybe 120 places, about maybe 80 percent of those protests were peaceful but 20 were quite violent.  The violence in all cases really was against the government.  Once case, in Lhasa was against Chinese migrants, but significantly like 70 percent of those protests are rural or in county towns and probably 60 (percent) to 70 percent are lay people, not monks.  In other words, the attack on religion in secular, in lay society has triggered now a response that we've never seen in Tibet for some 40 or so years, a response from the rural-lay base across the countryside as well as in the town.  This is a big problem for China.  And that response is not just from that area central to that but from the whole of the Tibetan plateau. So now we have a situation where the state has created a kind of unity among Tibetans.  It's created a nationalism, really in defense of its religious identity and its traditions.

WORDEN:  Well that's a very good transition to -- particularly your definition of treating religion and culture in Tibet as a security problem.  It's a very good transition to Xinjiang.

So over to you, Professor Gladney.

DRU C. GLADNEY:  Thank you, Minky.

I think that map that's in the back of your program is most useful for my segment of the talk when Robbie Barnett, Professor Barnett, says Tibetm I think most of you all of you have a pretty good idea where Tibet is and what Tibetan religion is about and who Tibetans are.  But when Minky says Xinjiang, the maps go open because, you know, where is that, how do you pronounce that X.  Who are these people Ouiger?  How do you pronounce that name?  And I think that is one of the biggest problems for talking about that region.  It's hard to pronounce.  You know, it's like, why -- Americans drink chardonnay, they can pronounce that but they don't drink chavignon blanc because that's hard to pronounce.  And I think the problems of that region is that it's been little covered in the Western media because it has seemed so remote and exotic.  But that has changed. It's changed since 9-11 and it's changed since the Olympics.

I want to say very clearly that China does not have a Muslim problem.  It does not have an Islam problem.  The vast majority of China's 20 million Muslims are very patriotic.  They're very well integrated into Chinese society and culture. China enforces freedom of religion for Islam.  Islam is one of the five constitutionally allowed and permitted and regulated religions in China.  It's permitted.  To be a Muslim in China the government pays the mosques.  It pays the salaries of the imams.  So China, I want to make very clear, does not have an Islam problem.  It does not have a Muslim problem.  But it is also true that China has a Xinjiang problem and a Ouiger problem.  And I want to make a distinction between those two problems.

First, a little bit more about the issue of Islam in China because if you go on Wikipedia, as I did this morning, and you look up the population and you look up Islam in China, you look at the population, it'll tell you 38 million Muslims in China.  National Geographic five years ago published a map of Islam around the world, global Islam -- 40 million Muslims in China, National Geographic.  That's absolutely incorrect.  One of the things the Chinese are really good at doing is counting people, and the national census has been recognized by international sociologists and demographers to have been extremely accurate.  Probably the most accurate Census the world has ever seen was the one conducted by China in the year 2000 -- great improvement over the 1982 census.  And that told us very clearly there are about 21 million Muslims in China.  Now that doesn't include Han who may have converted to Islam.  But there are very, very few examples of that.  And it doesn't include Muslims who actually might be secular or Marxist.  Now only Allah knows for sure if they're real Muslims but they are counted as national minorities.

And that's very interesting phenomenon in China.  That China has recognized it's Muslim populations as members -- 10 separate nationality groups -- and that's a very interesting policy that is also influenced by the West.  As Professor Mayfair Yang mentioned today earlier that the Western social science approach to Marxism and through Western scientism in some ways in China had a very strong influence not only in creating the word religion which, as Rebecca told us earlier, did not exist, but the word Islam did not exist in Chinese prior to the modern era.  Islam was the Hui person's religion.  Now, who are the Hui.  The Hui are the largest Muslim group in China.  And they are dispersed, they're extremely diverse.  They never really were a single ethnic group.  They are descended from Muslims who are Arabs, Persians, even Turks and even Mongols who came into China and settled, mostly men, intermarried over 1,300 years with Chinese populations and have become very integrated into every city and every town in China. There are over 10 million of these Hui in every city you go.

If you see Arabic on a street sign, that means that's a Hui restaurant or a Hui market.  The government pays for Halal food stores, grocery stores, hospitals.  Because of course for China, one of the biggest challenges for Muslims is the prevalence of use of pork and lard -- and all products, not just food but cleaning products and et cetera.  It's a great challenge.  It has also meant that the Hui Muslims, to live and to be integrated in Chinese society, have had to be tremendously resilient and innovative and accommodating to Chinese culture.  It's a great success story -- the integration of Muslim population into a very alien society.

When you think about Middle Easterners coming into China and you compare what's happened in China with this group compared to Europe -- for example, Muslims in  Europe.  So China has a great success story to tell about this extraordinary integration.  I wouldn't so far as saying Professor Yang really has to talk about Confucian Muslims because there are some tensions there.  But Confucianism was integrated into Islam in China. In a sense, the Muslims tried to prove themselves to be as moral as Confucians and to use the morality of Confucianism to legitimate and justify Islam.

(In progress after audio break) -- but they flourished in China.  Some of the most successful businessmen today in China are Muslims.  China is using many of its Muslims in foreign diplomacy.  They're playing an incredibly important role in China's extremely good relationships with every Middle Eastern country, including Israel, including Palestine, including Iran, Pakistan.  China's Muslims are there.  They've been going there, and they're going there in larger numbers.  And Middle Eastern Muslims are coming to China in huge numbers, creating a whole city, Niwu and Jejung (ph), that I'm sure Mayfair knows all about, where it's a huge Muslim population.

Iraqis can't get visas to go to Europe or the United States.  They can to China.  There's a huge Iraqi-Muslim population in Jejung (ph) that never existed before, and Chinese Muslims -- Hui -- are very involved with these people in trade, speaking Arabic, which they learn in the mosques.

But that story is quite different than Xinjiang.  And again, when you look at the map on the far corner of the region, you find that there's two problems for this -- for China.  It's the Xinjiang problem and it's the Ouiger problem.  I'll just mention a couple of aspects of those problems.  If you look at Xinjiang, it's in a bad neighborhood.  (Laughter.) It's a tough neighborhood.  At one point, you know, you had the Soviet Union and now you have eight countries, five of whom are Muslim, most of whom are in very sad shape.  And China -- Xinjiang for that reason is in a difficult position.

It's also -- you may not know -- the largest AIDS growth region in China, partly because of that neighborhood, because of drugs, trucking, all of those reasons that AIDS flourish anywhere else in the world, such as Africa, China has those problems in Xinjiang, also Yunnan, also a border minority area.

The other aspect of the Xinjiang problem is its wealth, its mineral wealth.  It's extraordinary.  China no longer has any other sources for petrochemical growth except Xinjiang, no other domestic source.  And if China is going to maintain its growth trajectory, it not only has to import greater energy sources, but especially liquid natural gas as well as oil.  It has to either come from Xinjiang or go through Xinjiang, especially if it's using Central Asian oil.

But that wealth is also problematic for the region because of the great disparity in income it's causing between those who are benefiting from that mineral wealth and those who are not.  And the locals in Xinjiang, both Muslim, Ouiger and Han, equally complain about the fact that they aren't benefiting.  They are not like Alaskans who benefit from development in their region.  The mineral wealth throughout China, whether you're from Tibet or Xinjiang, belongs to the state and it goes to the state, and then the state redistributes that wealth.

But you don't see that if you're a resident.  You see beautiful roads, beautiful buildings, excellent telecommunications in a rather undeveloped region, and you see some of the highest per capital GNP in all of China is in Xinjiang.  But the locals, Han and Ouiger, feel that they're not benefiting.  It's also -- that wealth is attracting huge populations of migrants, poor Han peasants from all over China because it's a boom town.  It's like Los Angeles, you know, 150 years ago and the discovery of gold and then later the story of the growth of the West is not unlike Xinjiang.

Now, the Ouiger problem is, of course, related to the fact that they are in this very isolated region, whereas China's Muslims, the Hui, are spread out throughout China, Beijing.  You have 160 mosques, 200,000 Hui Muslims in Beijing city alone.  And in Xinjiang the Ouiger have been the vast majority for centuries.  They're used to having their own region, their own language, their own culture.

But starting in the 1940s, Chinese migrants started to come to the region.  As far as we can tell, Han Chinese population in Xinjiang was less than 5 percent in the 1940s.  Today it's about 40 percent, enormous growth of population.  And the Ouiger I think feel very embattled.  They aren't prospering from the enormous growth and wealth, but they also feel that they're connected to a global Islamic network.  They are near these other regions.  They are influenced by these global trends.  And 9-11 had a tremendous impact on the Ouiger, not only in their awareness of global Islam, but also in their position as being regarded as a threat to the integrity of China.

For the Ouiger Islam, is not the issue.  It's sovereignty.  Sovereignty for the Ouiger has meant that -- they were actually -- many Ouiger were expecting that when the Soviet Union dissolved, you had all these new stans, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan.  They were hoping for a Ouigeristan, or at least East Turkistan.  And when it didn't happen, there was a great deal of frustration, particularly in the late '90s.  There were protests, civil unrest, some organized revolts, bombings in Beijing even that can be fairly accurately traced to Ouigers.

But since the late '90s, we've seen almost no protests.  Now, there have been some incidents, and most recently on March 9th, just before the Tibetan protests related to the Olympics, supposedly a group of Ouigers attempted to commandeer an airplane, and they were accused of plotting to bring this airplane down.

Now, all the evidence on that case is not in yet, but it does suggest that there continue to be Ouigers who -- though we don't see mass protests and indeed, we haven't seen any real Olympics related protests among Ouigers in China or abroad, interestingly enough.  But we do know that there's tremendous amount of discontent in the region among the Ouigers.

What are the sources of that discontent?  I mentioned migration.  I mentioned being sort of kept out of wealth, but also many of the laws that are regarded as repressive, as Robby has mentioned in Tibet, have also been applied in Xinjiang, not because they're Muslims, but because they are thought to be a threat to the state and because they are thought to be separatists -- have separatist sentiments.

What I have seen in the last 10 years is a growing awareness of Ouigers, that if they're going to make it in China, they can't entertain illusions of a separate state.  They have to realize that if they were a separate state, they might look a lot more like places like Tajikistan or Kashmir than they do like today, growing metropolis, a lot of support from the state center.

So there's been a sort of disillusionment with independence among Ouigers, but there's also continued discontent.  And for China that's a problem because you have nearly 10 million of these people, and they are tremendously well engaged in the region of Central Asia.  They're a Turkic speaking people.  The language of Ouiger is basically similar to Uzbek.  Twenty-five million Uzbeks, nearly 10 million Ouigers.  That whole Central Asian region speak Turkic languages that -- I speak Istanbul Turkish, and I can fairly well communicate with many of those people.

So they're a tremendous asset for China in terms of their connection with Central Asia, but also I think China needs to find better ways to win their hearts and minds.  For the Ouigers, I think it's difficult for them to participate in the broader Chinese mainstream, particularly learning Chinese as a second language, also wanting to learn those other languages in the region, such as English.  Urdu is a very popular language in the region, trade with Pakistan.  Russian was once very strong among Ouigers.

And to win over the hearts and minds of this population is an enormous challenge for China, but I think the benefits would be extraordinary.

WORDEN:  Okay.  At this time we'd like to open things up to the audience, and when you get the mike, please stand up, state your name and affiliation, and keep your question brief and brisk.

Any questions from the audience?  Let's see.  Well, I will perhaps direct the first question to our speakers, and that is what impact, if any, the earthquake has had in your respective regions or areas of expertise?  And Rebecca, please speak generally to the earthquake.

And I'm particularly interested because the earthquake happened to also affect a number of the ethnic Tibetan areas that are outside the TAR, the Tibetan Autonomous Region.  These were areas that had been closed off, including to journalists.  So what are some of the likely Effects of the earthquake on the -- on some of these issues of autonomy and openness that we've discussed?  Maybe we'll start with Robby.

BARNETT:  Well, this morning, I got some calls from some journalists, Western journalists who were in the Tibetan areas for the first time partly in a sense by mistake.  The Tibetan areas are being closed off by China almost entirely since the protest -- quite problematic for China's international image.  But they're having to let some journalists go through part of the Tibetan areas in order to get to the earthquake zone.  And the people I talked to this morning -- are actually with NPR -- were saying that they think there's no real damage to the Tibetan parts of the earthquake area.  The damage is very, very local, but, of course, it was very densely populated on the Chinese side of the fault line.

So Tibetans have not been, it seems, hugely physically affected, not significant numbers have died, thank God, compared to the numbers of Chinese who've died.  I think many Hui as well probably, though we don't know yet, but especially China.  People are saying in China that 10 percent of the Chong may have died, a really catastrophic loss for that nationality there.

If we talk about the Tibetan question in relation to the earthquake, it is interesting because it shows such a strong contrast in the way the Chinese state behaves.  When I talked about earlier this question of the sense of the irrational, the sense of the pathological, about the way the Chinese bureaucrat operates with regard to a problematic like religion, unfortunately, the earthquake has made this seem even more evident because you have a Tibet that's completely closed down, extremely traditional hardline, crackdown policies.

Everybody in Tibet is now being forced to recite formal denounciations of their religious leader, the Dalai Lama, for very unclear reasons, really, if you think about it.  And no journalists are allowed to go there except a couple of groups.  And yet, in the earthquake area and because of the earthquake tragedy, there's been a lot of openness of press and the state has been very wonderfully positive and supportive and so on.

So I don't mean this is deliberate by the Chinese state, but it has produced by default through this kind of unevenness of policy a perception among Tibetans that there's one system for Tibetans and one system for the non-Tibetans.  Of course, they all understand one is a natural disaster and one is political protest.  But nevertheless, the difference is so huge.

And we see here China stumbling.  China stumbled hugely when it handled the Tibet protests because it decided to attack the Dalai Lama, which means attacking religion -- again, no clear reason, hasn't been able to produce any obvious reason for that attack.  And it also put on television footage, endless footage of the one incident in Lhasa among the 100 or so where Tibetans attacked Chinese migrants -- very vicious, very ugly and very unpleasant.

But what it did was to create a gulf between Chinese and Tibetans, thousands of Chinese, millions writing on the Internet saying how bad the Tibetans are.  That's undermining the Chinese project of we are a multinational state.  They're not calling it that now.  They're calling it a multicultural state.  For the last 10 years it was a multi-ethnic state.  The rhetoric's changing.

But still, China, with its handling of these difficult questions, it's beginning to throw out these contradictions.  And I think the earthquake, unfortunately, increases that.  One example of that is a lot of arrests happening now in Lhasa, a lot of publicity from the state about rumors.  Five people have just been arrested last week and charged, punished for spreading rumors.  We think, from the messages we get from Lhasa, the rumors are the earthquake was a kind of retribution for China's actions in Tibet the month before.  That doesn't mean that people literally think this.  It's a kind of notion of karma, if you like, the Sharon Stone approach to (laughter) -- but, you know, even among Chinese you see that view.

And yesterday I saw -- and I saw this morning some article saying that religious belief is going to increase now in China across Chinese people because of the earthquake.  So there are these kind of unexpected results of these disasters.

WORDEN:  Rebecca, do you have any thoughts about the impact of the earthquake?

NEDOSTUP:  Yes.  Well, I think -- a couple of things to think about.  One is in the long historical view, Chinese states have often been willing to welcome the social service provisions that religious organizations can provide, and that is very much in keeping with the favoring of the Christian model of religion.  And this is certainly true of earlier 20th century governments.

One of the things that the Chinese nationalist state in the 1920s -- when it was setting up the state regulatory framework that we sort of see the inheritance of today did was write sort of horditory (sic) letters to Chinese Buddhists saying why can't you be more like those Christians and set up hospitals and clinics and so on?  And Buddhists themselves were extremely interested in doing this, so there was this very interesting dialogue that went back and forth that carried on through the war with Japan that led to some Chinese Buddhist monks actually taking up arms against the Japanese and so on.

So there has been this back and forth, and we see some of this now in a lot of religious charitable organizations going into the earthquake zone, international organizations, and some of this came up in the morning session with the mention of Saji (ph) being one of the most prominent ones, the Taiwanese Buddhist group, but there are other ones.

But there have also been local temples that have opened their doors to refugees.  And so there's been -- and this has been reported in the Chinese press, so there's been a lot more sort of open manifestation, but also open reporting of religiosity happening in the aftermath of the earthquake.  And not all of that is contrary to state interests.  The things that religious organizations can provide, the material resources, are often -- often can work in tandem with what the state needs in an emergent situation.

But also, there's the sort of ritual aspect, the emotional aspect and so on.  And that's important I think not just for people who are outside the state.  And in the first session there was beginnings of a discussion of religious affiliation for people in government.  And I think that's important to remember.  And it's important to -- at this point maybe to start to disaggregate the state, to think of the state not just as unitary actor and to think of different levels of the state, local versus central, as maybe having different interests.

And particularly when we think of the earthquake, there's starting to be a lot of discussion of -- certainly in terms -- mostly in the press of blaming local officials for problems that have happened in the earthquake versus not blaming central officials.  But I think the local officials can sometimes get things out of religious affiliations and organizations that central officials maybe have different interests in.  And that can include also what we might lump very crudely under community needs or spiritual needs.

And that can be defined variously.  There was an item in the New York Times today about the one panda that was killed in the earthquake, being buried by the panda's keeper and the panda's keeper putting an offering on the grave of the panda.  I think we can count that as -- you know, in the broad spectrum of religion.

So, you know, these things are manifesting themselves quite, you know -- in different ways, and I think that times of trauma especially and times of crisis bring out religion and religious needs into state actors in ways that they don't necessarily in more ordinary times.  So I think it's well worth keeping an eye on.  This has happened over and over again in times of war in the 20th century in China.

WORDEN:  Dru, any thoughts about the seismic changes in China in relation to the earthquake?

GLADNEY:  The Muslims were less affected.  They're mostly Hui in the urban centers in that area, traders.  Hui connected the tea trade that freighters from -- down into Burma, Southeast Asia, all the way up through Szechuan, Ching-Hai, Gonsu, (ph) right up into Xingjian, and the Hui were often the traders, smugglers you might call them sometimes because there were often other things being traded.

But for the most part what I think the earthquake illustrated -- Xingjian has had its fair share of earthquakes as well as Ningsha -- major fault lines there in those regions -- is the tremendous complexity and ethnic diversity that is masked by the general focus on Beijing's policies or on China.  What that illustrates is not just this enormous Szechuanese population and culture, which is quite different from the north, but also the fact there's this group known as the Chong.  Nobody had ever heard of them, you know.  Three-hundred thousand of them, 90,000 in the center, Betan, in the center where the earthquake was.  Probably all 90,000 perished, maybe up to -- more than 10 percent, maybe -- some people are saying almost half their population.  Nobody had hardly ever heard of this group before.

So the diversity that is in China today I think is something that is really overwhelming people so that when we talk about Muslims in China, we can't just talk about Muslims.  We have to talk about Ouigers versus Hui versus some very poor and very uneducated Muslims in that region of Ching-Hai, Gonsu who are the most patriotic, the least rebellious.

And normally we think Muslims are driven -- and I think the Chinese state erors on this situation.  They think that that Ouigers are rebellious because they're not well educated, they're not well developed.  But the least developed Muslims in China are probably the Dongsheng, the Bao'an, the Salah in this Gungsu, Ching-Hai region, these former traders.  They're very patriotic, very well integrated in the Chinese -- they speak this weird Turkic-Mongolian language.  But they are extremely well integrated into the broader, multiethnic, multicultural Chinese mainstream.

WORDEN:  And now I think we can go to the audience.  We'll start back here.  Just identify yourself and your organization.  Stand up, if you will.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah, this is Fenggang Yang.  I'm from Purdue University.  Just some questions.  Birst a question for Professor Barnett about Tibetan and Tibetan Buddhism.  What do you think about the Chinese government's pouring hundreds or sometimes millions or even billions of yuan to restore, renovate those temples in the Tibetan areas?

Second is what do you think about the popular appeal of Tibetan Buddhism in eastern part of China?  Because in some urban areas, I find many people like Tibetan Buddhism and practice Tibetan Buddhism.  These are the people -- these are the Han people, not Tibetan people.

Third question is during the March riots in Lhasa not only Han businesses were affected, I think also some Muslim businesses were affected in Lhasa.  And there are Muslims in Tibet and also Christians, both Catholics and Protestants.  What's the attitude toward the Christian evangelism in Tibet?  What's the government's attitude, the local government, and what's the attitude of the Dalai Lama?

For Professor Dru Gladney, would you talk about -- I know, because this is a rare occasion to get some information.  I have been fascinated by those, but really want to learn.  And for the 10 acting minorities who are considered Muslim -- but you said there are some non-practicing.  Do you have a sense of the proportion of people who do not practice Islam among the 10 acting minorities, especially the Hui minority.

And also the question about evangelism, Christian evangelism in Xingjian.  What do you know about that, and what you can tell about that?  Thank you.

WORDEN:  Thank you.

NEDOSTUP:  You'll go first, Robby.  (Laughter.)

BARNETT:  Thank you so much.  Firstly, the Chinese government has poured huge amounts of money into restoring temples in Tibet, but it's basically a very small number of temples that are national monuments, the fatallah (ph) and so on.  But a couple of -- three have been put on UNESCO World Heritage site.  So a lot of money.

This is the phenomenon we have to bear in mind all the time about China.  There's never a China that tries to eliminate something or completely wipe out something.  It always has a carrot in one hand and a stick in the other.  It always has an incentive policy for that category and an elimination policy for that category.  And what's so tragic on the Tibet issue is the Chinese have moved the Dalai Lama from this side to that side.  They can't talk to the one person who can really very easily resolve their problem really very, very quickly because they're put in that eliminate category, the enemy category rather than the united front category.

When they're thinking about that category, they spend money on temples.  They don't spend money on local temples.  There's -- bout 3(thousand) 4,000 monasteries have been rebuilt in Tibet, probably 90 percent of them at a guess are entirely private, local money.  But they do -- the Chinese does national, big symbolic kinds of religion.  It has a -- unfortunately, it creates a notion of state folkloric practices with its money spending, not very evenly distributed.  But it's a very positive thing.

Now, popular appeal of Tibetan Buddhism -- wonderful point.  Huge increase in fascination and devotion, real devotion to Tibetan Buddhism among Chinese, not just Taiwan, but -- not just East Coast, but across middle class China, this is a massive phenomenon of devotion, a massive source of funds, very, very important.  There was -- a major monastery was basically wiped out about five years ago because it had 800 Chinese monks up in Liugong, Szechuan.  Basically that monastery is completely reassembled now very quietly in the last couple of years.

WORDEN:  Robby, has that been affected by the backlash after the -- the nationalist backlash after the protests in March?

BARNETT:  I was just going to say I have no idea.  I think you will find that Buddhism amongst Chinese completely survives the nationalist backlash because Buddhism is a non-centralized religion.  It is not a church.  It's a mass of thousands of little groupings each around their own lama.  So each lama will skillfully take their flock around that issue, will perhaps politely separate themselves from political issues, and the Chinese followers will be able to say this is different.  My lama is different from the Dalai Lama or something like that.  So I think it won't make a difference.

This is a huge resurgence of 1930s interest in Tibetan Buddhism that was cultivated by the Republicans in the 1930s.  The Panchen Lama gave teachings to 35,000 people in 1934, something like that, in I think Shanghai, was it?  Greg Tuttle, my colleague at Columbia, has written a wonderful book about this.  So this is, again, a historical re-emergence.

The Hui attacks -- yes, they're -- not just this time.  There were attacks on the Hui by Tibetans on March 14th.  This is a recurrent phenomenon.  You know, when you read the Chinese press saying oh, these Tibetans now they're so violent and this is because of the Dalai Lama or something, or when you read Westerners saying oh, this is so shocking, there must be a new climate in Tibetan politics or Tibetan attitudes, this is completely wrong.  There have been dozens of riots in Tibet in the last 20 years against Hui Muslims.  They're always started by rumors of pollution, you know, that somebody's food has been polluted or the water supply has been polluted.  A lot of antagonism.  Historically, it comes from 1930s, 1920s wars between the two communities and so on.  This has continued.

And I just want to say that when we look at Tibetan violence, when it's about race, it's really very typical in situations where you have very, very rapid demographic change in a small space.  And lastly, the Christians, the evangelists -- 90 percent of the Westerners working in Tibetan areas probably are hardcore fundamentalist Christian evangelists, many of them from America.  They're very, very much regarded with suspicion by other Westerners because many of them do have an agenda, which is to destroy Tibetan culture, although they will disagree with that.  They will say they respect the culture.  They only want to replace the religion.

They basically have been entirely supported by the Chinese state, and for the last few months there's been a slight change.  All the foreign language teachers in the TAR are necessarily members of an evangelical born again movement.  They're very nice people.  I work with them and know them.

But Tibetans all accept them wonderfully initially because they discover they like religion.  They think that's wonderful.  And later on they get -- when they get to the stage of serious converting, then some animosity arrives.  We're sort of still in that stage.

GLADNEY:  But they're cheap.  I mean, I would say 99 percent of the foreign workers in Xingjian -- and I had read something, like about 400 -- this is a large number -- are probably evangelical Christians, a large group of Koreans in South Korea.  Particularly in Central Asia the numbers go way up.  But now I'm just talking about Xingjian.

And I don't think it's really -- again, it's like the migration issue.  It's not so much that the Chinese government is sending Han and other workers into the region.  They're attracted.  There are opportunities there for the poor as well as for these teachers.  They need foreign skilled labor, and they're cheap and they're clean.  These Christian teachers -- they don't take drugs.  They don't sleep with the students, they're reliable, they show up to work on time, and they get support from the outside.  So they're cheap.

And so I think it's not as if there's some devious plot to -- in fact, there could be an argument to say that the Chinese government policy towards nationalities has done more to preserve culture than to eradicate it.  China is the only government in the world that I know that spends millions -- (inaudible) -- dollars to translate documents, to create languages, ethnic languages that didn't exist, to have bilingual, multilingual publications, to allow second and third language education at the elementary school level.  In places like Xingjian, it's not just Ouiger and Chinese, but you have Kazakh.  You have Kyrgyz.  You have a lot of other languages that are being actively taught, and publications, newspapers, radio broadcasts, television shows.

So China's government policy is I think somewhat conflicted on this issue.  On the one hand, there's a lot of preservation and a lot of energy devoted to that.  On the other hand, there has to be, you know, a recognition that China very much wants integration.

So when groups are thought to be threatening, then they will -- the strength of the state will come to bear so that you do see overflowing mosques and young boys studying Islam in the madrassa, often state-funded madrassa, in interior China.  But you go to Xingjian and you don't see that because the government's very strict.  And so these loose rules about religion are sometimes more applied in areas such as perhaps the autonomous region and Muslim areas as opposed to the non-autonomous regions where there are Muslims, such as Gonsu and Ching-Hai.

And I think also the comment about secularism and Islam, non-practicing Muslims -- I think sometimes that's often generational or regional.  You know, urban Muslims tend to be more secularist.  But I've found that, you know, like in many of these, you know, religious populations as they get closer to, you know, thinking about the future or when there are great events, like funerals or marriages, then religion will come out.

And religion is I think -- we have to think about -- among Muslims in China as ethno-religious.  It's part of their identity.  It's part of their cultural background.  So even if you have Communist Party members who are Hui or Ouigers, you know, they will make all of these sort of atheistic statements and sign the documents in public, but in a private persona you might see that, well, they won't eat pork, or they will be very, you know, well versed in the religious traditions, such as weddings and funerals, et cetera.

So I don't know that we can actually -- and I think Mayfair Yang's book that -- and part of what I was involved with as well -- the notion of Chinese religiosity.  It's not so much religion as much -- you know, institutionalized religions, though we have them, but it's the awareness of ritual and private practice and the appeal of the richness of religious practice that is not just for Muslims or Buddhists, but it's for -- in popular religion in China, pervasive in Chinese society as well.

WORDEN:  So we're going to go in the back here.  Moira Moynahan.

QUESTIONER:  My name is Moira Moynahan, and I'm the executive producer of the documentary about Paldon Gyatso's life and his -- called "Fire Under the Snow," his 33 years in a Chinese labor camp in prison.  And I know that since March 14th, when riots exploded in Tibet that the Chinese government has accelerated arrests, torture, deportation of Tibetans with particular persecution meted out to the Buddhist clergy there.

And as China approaches the Olympic Games and gets set to host this enormous international gathering in August, it appears to be tightening security grip around tourists and journalists who will be coming for the Games as it continues the crackdown in Tibet.  So I'd like to ask the panel what they predict or foresee may happen with the Olympics as the international spotlight beams on Tibet.

WORDEN:  Any many other parts of China, yes.  We'll perhaps start with Robby and then move along to the other panelists.

BARNETT:  Thank you very much.  I suppose we're in one of those classic situations where Chinese Marxists and Chinese analysts teach us to think about contradictions.  (Scattered laughter.)  And this is a situation where contradictions are going to manifest.  And it's a very interesting one because I have -- I don't like to -- I don't want to be patronizing at all, but I think there is another historical problem for China, which is China has become used to -- and by China I mean the central leadership, you know, recognizing your point about the distinctions within the state -- but China's become used to the idea of the symbolic ritual event, a kind of -- I don't -- it's not a state religion, but this huge importance in the way the Communist Party organizes social life and history around major events -- anniversaries, festivals and so on.  And this is the biggest one of all perhaps since -- I don't know -- 1959 10th anniversary of liberation.

Now, of course, in the Chinese climate those were managed.  You could contain every form of input and output and so on that happened with these, and the Olympics, of course -- China's discovering you can't manage, the way it's experienced, the way it's understood.  The symbolism of the Olympics is in freefall.  And that's very difficult for China.  As they try to manage that, they're going to have to live with the difference or the different interpretations.

And the problem for China is will it overreact to the protests that will happen?  Will it crush those in full view?  Will it stop people seeing them and produce more contradictions that a benevolent, modern state that crushes its protests?

Well, I'm very interested in something that Han Donfang has been saying for a couple of years, which is the problem for the Olympics won't be what we'll think, you know -- will Falun Gong -- they're keeping very carefully quiet on this.  (Inaudible) -- keeping quiet.  Tibetans -- not much involved in Olympics except for the exiles.  The problem he's saying will be the petitioners, the letters and petition people, Chinese people often from the countryside who for years and years have deep, unanswered grievances about their personal lives and so on who will try to get to Beijing or other cities and join this occasion.  That could be much more --

WORDEN:  And I should say the petitioners have a legal right to petition the state that dates back to ancient times, but the petitioners' village that at one point numbered 10,000 people in Beijing -- the final remnants of that were cleared out last September.  So they've been dispersed, but these are people who have dedicated their lives to settling their grievances.

Rebecca, do you have any thoughts about this?

NEDOSTUP:  Well, picking up on this -- I think this is one area in which the earthquake has really sort of changed the game or opened up this -- the question of sort of ritual or civil ritual in a completely new way.  And I'm thinking of the moment of silence or the non-silent moment of silence because, you know, of course, it was met by so many car horns all over China.

But it was observed so widely, and -- you know, I wasn't in China at the time, but I knew a lot of people who were and wrote extremely moving accounts of it.  And this is a case where all the stage management of -- that the state could do in a sense didn't really matter because people were really joining into this in a very sincere way.

And this to me is much more significant than any kind of reinvention of Confucianism and Gonggi, and, you know, sort of Confucian ceremony that could go on because I know that the state tried to do that in the 1930s and it didn't go over very well.  And I'm not very convinced that any attempt to do that -- you know, however many times they go to the Yellow Emperor's tomb, that's always going to be a stage managed sort of thing.

But this is something different.  And the -- because it's also backed up with genuine acts of contributing and donating blood and donating money and people leaving their jobs for a week or a month or more to go to Szechuan.

So there is something else going on here, and it may be a little bit tied to the Olympics, but it may be something else entirely.  So that's what sort of I'm keeping my eye on.  And it seems to have deflected a lot of this -- the nationalist rhetoric that developed after the torch protests.

WORDEN:  I'd just make one quick comment that as you watch this civil ritual of the Olympics in China unfold, pay attention to what an enormously public and important role the ethnic minorities will play in this ritual.  They'll be forefront in the -- front and center.  And Tibetans are often almost in the very front.

And I think -- you know, it's important to realize how important multinationalism, multiculturalism is to China because it sends a signal to the entire country and the world that China is a united place, that it's brought all of these different cultures together.  It's not monolithic.  It's not monocultural.

There is somewhat a contradiction there as well, because on the one hand, China wants to bring its country together.  On the other hand, it also wants to preserve these differences and showcase them, but only certain kinds of differences.  In other words, there are many differences that are masked by those 56 minority nationalities and one great majority, the Han Chinese.

But, you know, China has much to be proud of that it's going to be celebrating.  And it'll be -- you know, what's fascinating is that many of these minorities are equally proud of their country.  I remember sitting in a cafe in Xingjian with some Ouigers, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbek students who had been involved with a research project over the summer, and we were celebrating around a big hot pot, lamb hot pot.  There was lots of beer there, though these were Muslims.  They were over 21.  And there was a lot of celebration at our table, but there was a lot of complaints about government policy and everybody -- you know, academics when they get together, they tend to complain a lot.

And then suddenly there was a celebration out in the street, and it was May 12th, and they had just nominated Beijing -- Beijing had just won the Olympics.  And these students from many different ethnic Muslim backgrounds were just out in the street as happy as anyone, thrilled for their country.

And I think what Americans can't understand is that when we criticize China on issues such as Tibet or its treatment of its Muslims, Chinese think that we're trying to drag that country down, we're trying to keep them back, hold them back.  It's not that we're that concerned about human rights issues.  It's that we really don't want to see China succeed, and we don't -- and we, you know, think China's a threat, things like that.

And I think what we fail to realize is that the Chinese have the right to celebrate, that many of these minority groups will be celebrating, and it'll be a tremendous civic ritual event.  At the same time, you know, China won't be able to manage the criticisms that will come out, the many, many layers of issues, the difficult issues, the challenges China has ahead of itself to continue with this pace of development and satisfy the many complaints that its population has.

WORDEN:  And I was given a few minutes to run over. The -- you know, we've walked right up to the beginning of the Olympics.  I'd like to ask in closing for each of you to give us your view of what will happen after the pressure is off from the Olympics.  You know, what is the likely scenario, you know, for China after this year of very momentous events, some anticipated, some not anticipated?  You know, what is the scenario?  Will things get tighter perhaps in some of the ethnic regions, or will there be a collective national sigh of relief?  Is it possible, then, to return to the general track of reform that we've seen over the last 30 years?  And why don't we start again on the end with Robby?

BARNETT:  Well, of course, I don't know what's going to happen, but it's very interesting to see how constantly everybody on every side of the picture is changing.  You know, suddenly we have Chinese people on the Internet suddenly taking up the Tibet issue and defending their government, although the week before they were critics of their government.  We have the Chinese government, you know, that is talking with the Dalai Lama's people on one side and attacking them on the other.

We have American policy, has actually been very gentle on China during the Tibet issues and less so than in Europe and lots of changes.  We had a remarkable moment during the Tibet issues when all the European governments and much of the West was pretty unified in criticizing China.  These things are changing all the time.

And one of the changes that's happening, which is really interesting and is a result of -- perhaps of the earthquake, but not just -- is people outside learning how to play the Chinese song, how to listen to what China wants to hear without becoming panda huggers.  (Laughter)  And this is a new kind of appeal that comes out of this Chinese nationalism, which is be nice to us. Differentiate in your criticism.

And I notice how the earthquake has led to this.  I mentioned it earlier.  A lot of Tibetans doing prayers for victims, the Dalai Lama insisting that people not stage any anti-China protests during much of May, giving a $50,000 donation to the International Red Cross.

This is very interesting because this is learning to differentiate between your politics and your alliances if you like, to say we like you Chinese people.  We sympathize with this and that.  We just disagree about that thing.  American government trying to do this as well, different groups trying to do this.

I think the Olympics will be an opportunity where we'll see people trying to learn that new way of differentiating their criticisms, trying to find ways to talk to China and Chinese people in a more nuanced way.  And I think that will come -- the same thing will happen with Chinese people talking to the West saying, well, we recognize this is wrong, but on the other hand, this works for us.  So I think that could be a positive outcome here.

WORDEN:  Rebecca.

NEDOSTUP:  Well, I think that there is probably two levels going on.  One may just keep on percolating the way that it's always been and one may change a bit.  The one that may keep on percolating the way it's always been -- I'm not so sure it's necessarily been affected by any of the Olympics -- is the level of local religion.  And that really hasn't come up that -- it came up a little bit in the first session, hasn't really come up too much in this session.

Because the question of how that is affected by state regulation is a very good one because it's not one of, you know, the five religions.  This is a question -- there has been a question that has come and gone with state authorities of whether it should be made a state religion.  It seems to have gone pretty much in the last couple of years.  And so -- but it's flourished and flourished largely through the contributions of entrepreneurs, especially local entrepreneurs, have poured a lot of money into local religion.

And that, I think, may just keep on going the way it has been.  There may be a question after the Olympics of whether or not the government now has a little bit more breathing space to revisit this issue.  But, again, that may just continue on as it always has been.  The issue that really have seemed to come to the fore with the Olympics and the earthquake is the state's contact with international religious groups.  And now, you know -- and especially intra-Asia religious groups as well as sort of East-West contacts.  And that's especially come out in the past few months with these contacts with religious charities from other parts of Asia.  And I think that those dialogues may well increase after the Olympics.

BARNETT:  Well, I think it depends on how many gold medals China wins.  (Laughter.)  And not just on the playing field, but also I think in terms of world recognition for its management of such a global event.

China, I think, is now on a world stage like never before, and it's shifting the way we see the world.  And I'm hoping that it shifts the way we see China, that there'll be great awareness and that China itself will be a more secure state, a more open society.  And that I think will be good for its marginal peoples.

China is very insecure on issues such as religion, it's very afraid of some of these religious movements so that as a state itself, having a secular background -- I mean, when we talk about religion in China, we talk about religiosity.  There's a lot of religion going on.  But who manages the state?  It's a state bureaucracy.

And who are those people?  Most of those people came up through a very secularist, atheist educational system.  They never had Introduction to Christianity 101.  They (laughs) never had any training on religion, these state bureaucrats.  And they're often very afraid of what they can't understand.

Why are people so motivated by Tibetan Buddhism?  What is the appeal of Christianity?  What is the strength of Islam?  Why don't, you know, people listen to someone like, you know, Al-Zawahiri?  Why don't Ouigers -- why are they interested in Wahhabism?  Why is conservative Islam attractive to young, modern, educated Ouiger professionals?  What is attractive about that?  That's very threatening to an insecure government.

Now, if China, I think, becomes -- recognizes that it is a very secure state; no one's threatening China in terms of armies on its borders.  Many people want to see China succeed, but also be a responsible stakeholder in the world, not just with its own population in terms of human rights, but also on the environmental issues that affect the entire globe.  And I think -- I hope that if China does well with the Olympics -- and many gold medals, not just on the playing field -- that it will lead to a more open, more secure China that will be good for Chinese, not just Han Chinese, but all Chinese citizens as well as global citizens.

WORDEN:   Well, thank you to our speakers.  We've run a little bit over, so we'll have a very short break before convening for Session three.  And thank you all for helping us with such a fascinating -- (applause).

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

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This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

MINKY WORDEN:  Thank you all for joining us today.  And we're following our excellent first session with the second session of our symposium on religion and the future of China.

I'd like to give a brief reminder to everyone to turn off and not to put on vibrate your cell phones, Blackberrys and all wireless devices.  They will interfere with our sound system here and give a very unattractive feedback.  I'd also like to remind the audience that this meeting is on the record.  Participants from around the world will be listening in and have the ability to view a live webcast on the Council's website.

And I would like to introduce our speakers today.  In the materials that you have, there are very extensive biographical details, so I will just introduce them very briefly.  Professor Dru Gladney who's the president of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College; Professor Rebecca Nedostup, the assistant professor of Chinese history at Boston College; and Professor Robert Barnett the research scholar and the head of the Modern Tibetan Studies department at Columbia University.  So I will give a very brief and brisk introduction to the -- this session is titled Religion and the State.  So a very quick framing because we have a lot of ground to cover today and I want to leave a lot of time for questions from the audience.

This year has been a very difficult and important year for China and for Chinese leaders.  Last October, we had the party congress.  In March, we had the Tibet protest followed by a crackdown that is still ongoing.  In March, we had the Szechwan earthquake -- in May, we had the Szechwan earthquake.  And the Olympics in Beijing and seven cities across China will begin August 8, 2008, at 8:08 pm.  That's a very lucky day in the -- on the Chinese calendar.

So I'd like to ask all of our speakers to say a very quick -- to give a brief introduction to certain topics.  Rebecca is going to do the sweep of Chinese history in relation to religion and the state.  It's a very challenging framing exercise.  We're going to go then to Robby Barnett who is going to talk about the Tibetan history and the Tibetan autonomous region but also deal most particulary with the recent protest and the crackdown and also what is ahead for Tibet.  For example, when the torch relay goes to Lhasa at the end of June.  And Dru Gladney is going to talk about the Ouiger autonomous region and some of the challenges there.

So let me turn it first over to Rebecca for an overview and a -- to lead us into the discussion.

REBECCA NEDOSTUP:  Thanks so much.  I'm a bit lucky in my task because for those of you who were here for the first session, Professor Mayfair Yang did a bit of my work for me, so I want to pick up a little bit on some of the things she said.  And especially if you place the history of the development of the relationship of state and religion in China in the 20th century, not just in terms of Chinese history but in terms of world history because it really is -- that development really is a world historical development, and that's something that's not often talked about.  Because the changes that we have when in the shift from the imperial government to modern representative government is a really important one because, yes, the imperial state often had cause to stigmatize certain kinds of religious groups, particular as heterodox as was talked about in the first session, not just because of the social threat, but because of the religious role that the state, particularly the emperor and officials in their guise as representatives of the emperor played themselves because they represented the balance of the cosmos -- they represented the pivot point between heaven and earth.

And so when certain heterodox groups rose up to challenge that role, that was a very important challenge.  But it is important to remember that they also often were required to carry out religious rituals in their role as representatives of the government.  So when the last dynasty falls, that all changes.  And in the move to elected representative governments of various kinds, that is gone. And so, what we have then in the 20th century is different states coming into competition with religious community organizations for resources.  Sometimes that's direct competition for financial resources, sometimes for temple property and for the other kinds of economic resources that religious organizations can command.  And sometimes that's in competition for the affections of people.  And in times when the state is very strong or mobilizational in the early 20th Century and during the cultural revolution as well, there's a sense that modern citizens should cast all their affections as citizens to the state rather than to religious affiliations and any other kind of social affiliation.  And at other times when the state is looser, you can have multiple affiliations.  So there is this sense of competition.

But the other thing that I would like to bring out -- and this is sort of the world historical context -- is the idea of what religion is changes as well at the beginning of the 20th century.  And this was alluded to in the morning session.  When constitutionalism is introduced with the idea of freedom of religion, that brings with it the need to determine what religion is.  That brings with it a new vocabulary, i.e. the name religion, Tsungiao (sp) in Chinese which did not exist in the Chinese vocabulary before the turn of the 20th century.  There is and idea of religions of course in the sense of there is Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, et cetera, et cetera.  But the idea of religion as a discrete category distinguishable from politics, from science, and so on is something that is introduced from the West.

And so what should religion look like?  It carries with it this neologism, the idea that religion is something that looks -- ought to look particularly like Christianity, particularly like Protestant Christianity, something that has a visible text, something where people go to church once a week so that you have this oddity of, in the early 20th century of Buddhists trying to create Buddhist church where you go to Buddhist church once a week.  That's a very short-lived unsuccessful movement.  But there is -- this is a cultural ideal and so this is something that we still see today in a lot of analyses of freedom of religion and even surveys of religions.  When we count people who have religious affiliations, what are we counting?  Are we counting people who sign up for a particular faith or belief 24-7, and does that necessarily go against how -- what the traditional view of Chinese religious practice is, which is extremely eclectic and can include a variety of things ranging from funerary practice to ancestral veneration and so-on and so forth.  And so this is a consistent struggle, both an intellectual struggle and a political struggle throughout the 20th century, of classification both ion the governmental level and on the academic intellectual level of trying to fit a very multitudinous religious practice into these slots. And so this is -- this is the sort of framework in the 20th century that state and religion fits into.

So when freedom of religion is guaranteed it is often guaranteed to institutionalized religions that eventually end up into the five religions that we have today guaranteed.  And the other corollary is that is in most Chinese constitutions from the early ones in the late Ching Dynasty there's the corollary of freedom of religion is guaranteed except where determined by law.  And that's something that's adopted actually from the Meiji constitution in Japan.  So there's always this kind of gray area attached to freedom of religion as well.  So those are the few things that I would like to bring out at the outset in terms of the overall framework of state of religion.

WORDEN:  That's a very good transition moment because it is all in the implementation of course of the law.  So we'd like to move along to cover a couple of important regions and themes.  And for the next two speakers I'd like, if you'd be interested to -- if you're not familiar with the areas we're going to be talking about, we have a map at the back of your materials here.  And we're going to move on to Professor Barnett who will speak about recent developments in Tibet and challenges there.  But before I ask him to speak, I'd like to recognize a Tibetan monk who's in the audience with us today.  Paul Den Gatzo (sp) if you would mind standing is visiting the Council today from Dampala (sp).  He is a monk that has experienced torture but tells his story as a way of explaining the experience of many religious Tibetans, and I wanted to recognize him. Thank you. (Applause.)

Robbie if you wouldn't mind picking up with a brief overview of the history of the Tibetan autonomous region, emphasis on autonomy ,and talking about the latest developments.

ROBERT BARNETT:  Well, thank you.  To follow on from what Professor Nedostup has said, the same kind of problem exists when we think about Tibet.  The problem I think is twofold.  One is for us as Westerners.  Following the Western project we tend to think of religion as somehow emotional and we tend to think of the state as somehow rational.  And I think China, the state, goes with that set of premises also when it thinks about an area like Tibet.  It tries to produce this flattening project that you described so well, and apply a set of ideas and regulations across China, including the areas that it has annexed very recently as if they were all much the same, as if religion as a unitary thing that can be dealt with in fairly similar ways.

In Tibet, this kind of approach, this super-rational approach of the Chinese state, the Chinese bureaucrat has caused huge problems, momentous collapse in the relations between state and society.  One of the problems is that historically, if I should address that, Tibet was never an integral part of China.  It had some kind of status within the Chinese empire, but not strictly even the Chinese empire in the Mongol empire under the Yuan and the Manchu empire under the Ching.  It had some rule there.  There was a Chinese commissioner, actually two commissioners would be established there.  And essentially they had very little involvement in Tibetan affairs except for foreign relations and things like that.  So Tibet never really saw the Chinese officials or any Chinese state until -- after 1904, the British invaded.  That provoked the Chinese to move toward annexing Tibet as if it were an integral part of China.

Moving towards setting it up as a province, the Chinese invaded in 1910.  They failed because the Ching Dynsasty collapsed in 1911.  Tibet declared independence a couple of years later,  but Mao, of course, was able to move in in 1950 with the People's Liberation Army.  And then he established what seemed to Tibetans at the time something that was really welcome, the idea of Tibet, which he defined just as the central and western areas of the plateau, as an autonomous area.  That autonomy in a very real sense was allowed to exist for eight years.  That project collapsed in 1959 as you probably all know, the Dalai Lama fled, there was an uprising, and then there was 20 years in which, more or less, there was an attempt to wipe out religion.  Some 95 (percent), 96 percent of monasteries had been closed down before the cultural revolution began -- several years before.  We have to be careful about thinking of the Cultural Revolution as the only site in which religion is seen as the enemy of the state.  In Tibet and other areas that had happened much earlier.

From 1980, we get a very, very interesting attempt by China under Hu Yaobang to move back to the 1950s dispensation, an idea of giving Tibet some form of real autonomy.  By that time it wasn't you allowed the traditional government to continue as they had in the 1950s, the idea was a cultural and economic idea of autonomy, much more limited but still very welcome to Tibetans who can practice your religion Hu Yaobang said.  You can have your own administrators, the Chinese officials should leave, something that made him very unpopular in China; and you can have an economy that is developed according to local criteria of benefit, what we would call a Tibetan-centered notion of development.  There's some protests in 1987.  The Chinese state reacts very strongly to those and this dispensation, the 1980s cultural autonomy phase, is ended.  And really, it's the ending of that cultural autonomy that brings us to the situation we're in now.  It wasn't an ending that was really done by security forces.

In the first six years or so after the protests of 1987, the state tried to deal with religion and with politics by using essentially police forces.  You arrested people.  For a while, you tried torture, then they backed off that, they learned that that was counterproductive to use in large scale.  They tried to control information especially after '93 and so on.  But it was only in 1994 that a new leader was sent to Tibet by Beijing who decided that the problem of nationalism in Tibet was not what we would call a political problem or a security problem.  He decided it was a cultural, religious problem.

And the leadership in Tibet formulated a phrase which has enormous significance for everyone in Tibet and all of us which is, it's never been made public but we understand something like this, "the roots of nationalism in Tibet are in the language, and the roots of the language are in the religion, and the roots of the language are in culture."  Sometimes the formulation varies.  This meant that the Chinese state had decided to treat religion and culture in Tibet as a security problem.  Essentially, what happens in the Chinese administration, not consciously -- this is a historical resurgence of old imperial dynastic fears about religion that religion is a political problem.  That religion is something to do with sects, that's -- we heard about this morning that you have to regulate and control politically.

And then China began in 1994 the campaign against the Dalai Lama.  There'd never been criticisms of the Dalai Lama as a religious figure in the 1980s.  He was criticized only politically.  Then there were very strict rules brought in in the monasteries, and all the monks, nuns were required then to denounce the Dalai Lama.  And continually we see more and more limits on religion in Tibet.  Some of those limits are rational.  You or I might not agree with the decision not to allow monks who are under 18 (years old), not to allow monks to be members of a monastery unless they are patriotic, that's a requirement.  But we can understand why a government might do that; it makes sense.  But it does not make sense to Tibetans, and I don't think it makes sense to Chinese in the metropol in the center of China, why China has rules in Tibet and I think we'll hear more about Chizhang (ph) that say no government employee, whether or not they're in the party, is allowed to practice religion.  No student is allowed to practice religion or go to a monastery and so on.

So there we see a leakage of the rational state which regulates religion to fundamentally a pathological state an anxiety-driven kind of regulatory machine that starts to make rules that it can't explain.  Those rules are secret.  They're not distributed in writing.  Rules that it hasn't got a rationale for.  And in that situation we get a much bigger split between state and society.  And I think that's what's led to the protests this spring -- or one of the major factors -- the continual push against religion for incoherent unexplained reasons.  And that's produced a very important result now but we've seen protests in the last two months from maybe 120 places, about maybe 80 percent of those protests were peaceful but 20 were quite violent.  The violence in all cases really was against the government.  Once case, in Lhasa was against Chinese migrants, but significantly like 70 percent of those protests are rural or in county towns and probably 60 (percent) to 70 percent are lay people, not monks.  In other words, the attack on religion in secular, in lay society has triggered now a response that we've never seen in Tibet for some 40 or so years, a response from the rural-lay base across the countryside as well as in the town.  This is a big problem for China.  And that response is not just from that area central to that but from the whole of the Tibetan plateau. So now we have a situation where the state has created a kind of unity among Tibetans.  It's created a nationalism, really in defense of its religious identity and its traditions.

WORDEN:  Well that's a very good transition to -- particularly your definition of treating religion and culture in Tibet as a security problem.  It's a very good transition to Xinjiang.

So over to you, Professor Gladney.

DRU C. GLADNEY:  Thank you, Minky.

I think that map that's in the back of your program is most useful for my segment of the talk when Robbie Barnett, Professor Barnett, says Tibetm I think most of you all of you have a pretty good idea where Tibet is and what Tibetan religion is about and who Tibetans are.  But when Minky says Xinjiang, the maps go open because, you know, where is that, how do you pronounce that X.  Who are these people Ouiger?  How do you pronounce that name?  And I think that is one of the biggest problems for talking about that region.  It's hard to pronounce.  You know, it's like, why -- Americans drink chardonnay, they can pronounce that but they don't drink chavignon blanc because that's hard to pronounce.  And I think the problems of that region is that it's been little covered in the Western media because it has seemed so remote and exotic.  But that has changed. It's changed since 9-11 and it's changed since the Olympics.

I want to say very clearly that China does not have a Muslim problem.  It does not have an Islam problem.  The vast majority of China's 20 million Muslims are very patriotic.  They're very well integrated into Chinese society and culture. China enforces freedom of religion for Islam.  Islam is one of the five constitutionally allowed and permitted and regulated religions in China.  It's permitted.  To be a Muslim in China the government pays the mosques.  It pays the salaries of the imams.  So China, I want to make very clear, does not have an Islam problem.  It does not have a Muslim problem.  But it is also true that China has a Xinjiang problem and a Ouiger problem.  And I want to make a distinction between those two problems.

First, a little bit more about the issue of Islam in China because if you go on Wikipedia, as I did this morning, and you look up the population and you look up Islam in China, you look at the population, it'll tell you 38 million Muslims in China.  National Geographic five years ago published a map of Islam around the world, global Islam -- 40 million Muslims in China, National Geographic.  That's absolutely incorrect.  One of the things the Chinese are really good at doing is counting people, and the national census has been recognized by international sociologists and demographers to have been extremely accurate.  Probably the most accurate Census the world has ever seen was the one conducted by China in the year 2000 -- great improvement over the 1982 census.  And that told us very clearly there are about 21 million Muslims in China.  Now that doesn't include Han who may have converted to Islam.  But there are very, very few examples of that.  And it doesn't include Muslims who actually might be secular or Marxist.  Now only Allah knows for sure if they're real Muslims but they are counted as national minorities.

And that's very interesting phenomenon in China.  That China has recognized it's Muslim populations as members -- 10 separate nationality groups -- and that's a very interesting policy that is also influenced by the West.  As Professor Mayfair Yang mentioned today earlier that the Western social science approach to Marxism and through Western scientism in some ways in China had a very strong influence not only in creating the word religion which, as Rebecca told us earlier, did not exist, but the word Islam did not exist in Chinese prior to the modern era.  Islam was the Hui person's religion.  Now, who are the Hui.  The Hui are the largest Muslim group in China.  And they are dispersed, they're extremely diverse.  They never really were a single ethnic group.  They are descended from Muslims who are Arabs, Persians, even Turks and even Mongols who came into China and settled, mostly men, intermarried over 1,300 years with Chinese populations and have become very integrated into every city and every town in China. There are over 10 million of these Hui in every city you go.

If you see Arabic on a street sign, that means that's a Hui restaurant or a Hui market.  The government pays for Halal food stores, grocery stores, hospitals.  Because of course for China, one of the biggest challenges for Muslims is the prevalence of use of pork and lard -- and all products, not just food but cleaning products and et cetera.  It's a great challenge.  It has also meant that the Hui Muslims, to live and to be integrated in Chinese society, have had to be tremendously resilient and innovative and accommodating to Chinese culture.  It's a great success story -- the integration of Muslim population into a very alien society.

When you think about Middle Easterners coming into China and you compare what's happened in China with this group compared to Europe -- for example, Muslims in  Europe.  So China has a great success story to tell about this extraordinary integration.  I wouldn't so far as saying Professor Yang really has to talk about Confucian Muslims because there are some tensions there.  But Confucianism was integrated into Islam in China. In a sense, the Muslims tried to prove themselves to be as moral as Confucians and to use the morality of Confucianism to legitimate and justify Islam.

(In progress after audio break) -- but they flourished in China.  Some of the most successful businessmen today in China are Muslims.  China is using many of its Muslims in foreign diplomacy.  They're playing an incredibly important role in China's extremely good relationships with every Middle Eastern country, including Israel, including Palestine, including Iran, Pakistan.  China's Muslims are there.  They've been going there, and they're going there in larger numbers.  And Middle Eastern Muslims are coming to China in huge numbers, creating a whole city, Niwu and Jejung (ph), that I'm sure Mayfair knows all about, where it's a huge Muslim population.

Iraqis can't get visas to go to Europe or the United States.  They can to China.  There's a huge Iraqi-Muslim population in Jejung (ph) that never existed before, and Chinese Muslims -- Hui -- are very involved with these people in trade, speaking Arabic, which they learn in the mosques.

But that story is quite different than Xinjiang.  And again, when you look at the map on the far corner of the region, you find that there's two problems for this -- for China.  It's the Xinjiang problem and it's the Ouiger problem.  I'll just mention a couple of aspects of those problems.  If you look at Xinjiang, it's in a bad neighborhood.  (Laughter.) It's a tough neighborhood.  At one point, you know, you had the Soviet Union and now you have eight countries, five of whom are Muslim, most of whom are in very sad shape.  And China -- Xinjiang for that reason is in a difficult position.

It's also -- you may not know -- the largest AIDS growth region in China, partly because of that neighborhood, because of drugs, trucking, all of those reasons that AIDS flourish anywhere else in the world, such as Africa, China has those problems in Xinjiang, also Yunnan, also a border minority area.

The other aspect of the Xinjiang problem is its wealth, its mineral wealth.  It's extraordinary.  China no longer has any other sources for petrochemical growth except Xinjiang, no other domestic source.  And if China is going to maintain its growth trajectory, it not only has to import greater energy sources, but especially liquid natural gas as well as oil.  It has to either come from Xinjiang or go through Xinjiang, especially if it's using Central Asian oil.

But that wealth is also problematic for the region because of the great disparity in income it's causing between those who are benefiting from that mineral wealth and those who are not.  And the locals in Xinjiang, both Muslim, Ouiger and Han, equally complain about the fact that they aren't benefiting.  They are not like Alaskans who benefit from development in their region.  The mineral wealth throughout China, whether you're from Tibet or Xinjiang, belongs to the state and it goes to the state, and then the state redistributes that wealth.

But you don't see that if you're a resident.  You see beautiful roads, beautiful buildings, excellent telecommunications in a rather undeveloped region, and you see some of the highest per capital GNP in all of China is in Xinjiang.  But the locals, Han and Ouiger, feel that they're not benefiting.  It's also -- that wealth is attracting huge populations of migrants, poor Han peasants from all over China because it's a boom town.  It's like Los Angeles, you know, 150 years ago and the discovery of gold and then later the story of the growth of the West is not unlike Xinjiang.

Now, the Ouiger problem is, of course, related to the fact that they are in this very isolated region, whereas China's Muslims, the Hui, are spread out throughout China, Beijing.  You have 160 mosques, 200,000 Hui Muslims in Beijing city alone.  And in Xinjiang the Ouiger have been the vast majority for centuries.  They're used to having their own region, their own language, their own culture.

But starting in the 1940s, Chinese migrants started to come to the region.  As far as we can tell, Han Chinese population in Xinjiang was less than 5 percent in the 1940s.  Today it's about 40 percent, enormous growth of population.  And the Ouiger I think feel very embattled.  They aren't prospering from the enormous growth and wealth, but they also feel that they're connected to a global Islamic network.  They are near these other regions.  They are influenced by these global trends.  And 9-11 had a tremendous impact on the Ouiger, not only in their awareness of global Islam, but also in their position as being regarded as a threat to the integrity of China.

For the Ouiger Islam, is not the issue.  It's sovereignty.  Sovereignty for the Ouiger has meant that -- they were actually -- many Ouiger were expecting that when the Soviet Union dissolved, you had all these new stans, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan.  They were hoping for a Ouigeristan, or at least East Turkistan.  And when it didn't happen, there was a great deal of frustration, particularly in the late '90s.  There were protests, civil unrest, some organized revolts, bombings in Beijing even that can be fairly accurately traced to Ouigers.

But since the late '90s, we've seen almost no protests.  Now, there have been some incidents, and most recently on March 9th, just before the Tibetan protests related to the Olympics, supposedly a group of Ouigers attempted to commandeer an airplane, and they were accused of plotting to bring this airplane down.

Now, all the evidence on that case is not in yet, but it does suggest that there continue to be Ouigers who -- though we don't see mass protests and indeed, we haven't seen any real Olympics related protests among Ouigers in China or abroad, interestingly enough.  But we do know that there's tremendous amount of discontent in the region among the Ouigers.

What are the sources of that discontent?  I mentioned migration.  I mentioned being sort of kept out of wealth, but also many of the laws that are regarded as repressive, as Robby has mentioned in Tibet, have also been applied in Xinjiang, not because they're Muslims, but because they are thought to be a threat to the state and because they are thought to be separatists -- have separatist sentiments.

What I have seen in the last 10 years is a growing awareness of Ouigers, that if they're going to make it in China, they can't entertain illusions of a separate state.  They have to realize that if they were a separate state, they might look a lot more like places like Tajikistan or Kashmir than they do like today, growing metropolis, a lot of support from the state center.

So there's been a sort of disillusionment with independence among Ouigers, but there's also continued discontent.  And for China that's a problem because you have nearly 10 million of these people, and they are tremendously well engaged in the region of Central Asia.  They're a Turkic speaking people.  The language of Ouiger is basically similar to Uzbek.  Twenty-five million Uzbeks, nearly 10 million Ouigers.  That whole Central Asian region speak Turkic languages that -- I speak Istanbul Turkish, and I can fairly well communicate with many of those people.

So they're a tremendous asset for China in terms of their connection with Central Asia, but also I think China needs to find better ways to win their hearts and minds.  For the Ouigers, I think it's difficult for them to participate in the broader Chinese mainstream, particularly learning Chinese as a second language, also wanting to learn those other languages in the region, such as English.  Urdu is a very popular language in the region, trade with Pakistan.  Russian was once very strong among Ouigers.

And to win over the hearts and minds of this population is an enormous challenge for China, but I think the benefits would be extraordinary.

WORDEN:  Okay.  At this time we'd like to open things up to the audience, and when you get the mike, please stand up, state your name and affiliation, and keep your question brief and brisk.

Any questions from the audience?  Let's see.  Well, I will perhaps direct the first question to our speakers, and that is what impact, if any, the earthquake has had in your respective regions or areas of expertise?  And Rebecca, please speak generally to the earthquake.

And I'm particularly interested because the earthquake happened to also affect a number of the ethnic Tibetan areas that are outside the TAR, the Tibetan Autonomous Region.  These were areas that had been closed off, including to journalists.  So what are some of the likely Effects of the earthquake on the -- on some of these issues of autonomy and openness that we've discussed?  Maybe we'll start with Robby.

BARNETT:  Well, this morning, I got some calls from some journalists, Western journalists who were in the Tibetan areas for the first time partly in a sense by mistake.  The Tibetan areas are being closed off by China almost entirely since the protest -- quite problematic for China's international image.  But they're having to let some journalists go through part of the Tibetan areas in order to get to the earthquake zone.  And the people I talked to this morning -- are actually with NPR -- were saying that they think there's no real damage to the Tibetan parts of the earthquake area.  The damage is very, very local, but, of course, it was very densely populated on the Chinese side of the fault line.

So Tibetans have not been, it seems, hugely physically affected, not significant numbers have died, thank God, compared to the numbers of Chinese who've died.  I think many Hui as well probably, though we don't know yet, but especially China.  People are saying in China that 10 percent of the Chong may have died, a really catastrophic loss for that nationality there.

If we talk about the Tibetan question in relation to the earthquake, it is interesting because it shows such a strong contrast in the way the Chinese state behaves.  When I talked about earlier this question of the sense of the irrational, the sense of the pathological, about the way the Chinese bureaucrat operates with regard to a problematic like religion, unfortunately, the earthquake has made this seem even more evident because you have a Tibet that's completely closed down, extremely traditional hardline, crackdown policies.

Everybody in Tibet is now being forced to recite formal denounciations of their religious leader, the Dalai Lama, for very unclear reasons, really, if you think about it.  And no journalists are allowed to go there except a couple of groups.  And yet, in the earthquake area and because of the earthquake tragedy, there's been a lot of openness of press and the state has been very wonderfully positive and supportive and so on.

So I don't mean this is deliberate by the Chinese state, but it has produced by default through this kind of unevenness of policy a perception among Tibetans that there's one system for Tibetans and one system for the non-Tibetans.  Of course, they all understand one is a natural disaster and one is political protest.  But nevertheless, the difference is so huge.

And we see here China stumbling.  China stumbled hugely when it handled the Tibet protests because it decided to attack the Dalai Lama, which means attacking religion -- again, no clear reason, hasn't been able to produce any obvious reason for that attack.  And it also put on television footage, endless footage of the one incident in Lhasa among the 100 or so where Tibetans attacked Chinese migrants -- very vicious, very ugly and very unpleasant.

But what it did was to create a gulf between Chinese and Tibetans, thousands of Chinese, millions writing on the Internet saying how bad the Tibetans are.  That's undermining the Chinese project of we are a multinational state.  They're not calling it that now.  They're calling it a multicultural state.  For the last 10 years it was a multi-ethnic state.  The rhetoric's changing.

But still, China, with its handling of these difficult questions, it's beginning to throw out these contradictions.  And I think the earthquake, unfortunately, increases that.  One example of that is a lot of arrests happening now in Lhasa, a lot of publicity from the state about rumors.  Five people have just been arrested last week and charged, punished for spreading rumors.  We think, from the messages we get from Lhasa, the rumors are the earthquake was a kind of retribution for China's actions in Tibet the month before.  That doesn't mean that people literally think this.  It's a kind of notion of karma, if you like, the Sharon Stone approach to (laughter) -- but, you know, even among Chinese you see that view.

And yesterday I saw -- and I saw this morning some article saying that religious belief is going to increase now in China across Chinese people because of the earthquake.  So there are these kind of unexpected results of these disasters.

WORDEN:  Rebecca, do you have any thoughts about the impact of the earthquake?

NEDOSTUP:  Yes.  Well, I think -- a couple of things to think about.  One is in the long historical view, Chinese states have often been willing to welcome the social service provisions that religious organizations can provide, and that is very much in keeping with the favoring of the Christian model of religion.  And this is certainly true of earlier 20th century governments.

One of the things that the Chinese nationalist state in the 1920s -- when it was setting up the state regulatory framework that we sort of see the inheritance of today did was write sort of horditory (sic) letters to Chinese Buddhists saying why can't you be more like those Christians and set up hospitals and clinics and so on?  And Buddhists themselves were extremely interested in doing this, so there was this very interesting dialogue that went back and forth that carried on through the war with Japan that led to some Chinese Buddhist monks actually taking up arms against the Japanese and so on.

So there has been this back and forth, and we see some of this now in a lot of religious charitable organizations going into the earthquake zone, international organizations, and some of this came up in the morning session with the mention of Saji (ph) being one of the most prominent ones, the Taiwanese Buddhist group, but there are other ones.

But there have also been local temples that have opened their doors to refugees.  And so there's been -- and this has been reported in the Chinese press, so there's been a lot more sort of open manifestation, but also open reporting of religiosity happening in the aftermath of the earthquake.  And not all of that is contrary to state interests.  The things that religious organizations can provide, the material resources, are often -- often can work in tandem with what the state needs in an emergent situation.

But also, there's the sort of ritual aspect, the emotional aspect and so on.  And that's important I think not just for people who are outside the state.  And in the first session there was beginnings of a discussion of religious affiliation for people in government.  And I think that's important to remember.  And it's important to -- at this point maybe to start to disaggregate the state, to think of the state not just as unitary actor and to think of different levels of the state, local versus central, as maybe having different interests.

And particularly when we think of the earthquake, there's starting to be a lot of discussion of -- certainly in terms -- mostly in the press of blaming local officials for problems that have happened in the earthquake versus not blaming central officials.  But I think the local officials can sometimes get things out of religious affiliations and organizations that central officials maybe have different interests in.  And that can include also what we might lump very crudely under community needs or spiritual needs.

And that can be defined variously.  There was an item in the New York Times today about the one panda that was killed in the earthquake, being buried by the panda's keeper and the panda's keeper putting an offering on the grave of the panda.  I think we can count that as -- you know, in the broad spectrum of religion.

So, you know, these things are manifesting themselves quite, you know -- in different ways, and I think that times of trauma especially and times of crisis bring out religion and religious needs into state actors in ways that they don't necessarily in more ordinary times.  So I think it's well worth keeping an eye on.  This has happened over and over again in times of war in the 20th century in China.

WORDEN:  Dru, any thoughts about the seismic changes in China in relation to the earthquake?

GLADNEY:  The Muslims were less affected.  They're mostly Hui in the urban centers in that area, traders.  Hui connected the tea trade that freighters from -- down into Burma, Southeast Asia, all the way up through Szechuan, Ching-Hai, Gonsu, (ph) right up into Xingjian, and the Hui were often the traders, smugglers you might call them sometimes because there were often other things being traded.

But for the most part what I think the earthquake illustrated -- Xingjian has had its fair share of earthquakes as well as Ningsha -- major fault lines there in those regions -- is the tremendous complexity and ethnic diversity that is masked by the general focus on Beijing's policies or on China.  What that illustrates is not just this enormous Szechuanese population and culture, which is quite different from the north, but also the fact there's this group known as the Chong.  Nobody had ever heard of them, you know.  Three-hundred thousand of them, 90,000 in the center, Betan, in the center where the earthquake was.  Probably all 90,000 perished, maybe up to -- more than 10 percent, maybe -- some people are saying almost half their population.  Nobody had hardly ever heard of this group before.

So the diversity that is in China today I think is something that is really overwhelming people so that when we talk about Muslims in China, we can't just talk about Muslims.  We have to talk about Ouigers versus Hui versus some very poor and very uneducated Muslims in that region of Ching-Hai, Gonsu who are the most patriotic, the least rebellious.

And normally we think Muslims are driven -- and I think the Chinese state erors on this situation.  They think that that Ouigers are rebellious because they're not well educated, they're not well developed.  But the least developed Muslims in China are probably the Dongsheng, the Bao'an, the Salah in this Gungsu, Ching-Hai region, these former traders.  They're very patriotic, very well integrated in the Chinese -- they speak this weird Turkic-Mongolian language.  But they are extremely well integrated into the broader, multiethnic, multicultural Chinese mainstream.

WORDEN:  And now I think we can go to the audience.  We'll start back here.  Just identify yourself and your organization.  Stand up, if you will.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah, this is Fenggang Yang.  I'm from Purdue University.  Just some questions.  Birst a question for Professor Barnett about Tibetan and Tibetan Buddhism.  What do you think about the Chinese government's pouring hundreds or sometimes millions or even billions of yuan to restore, renovate those temples in the Tibetan areas?

Second is what do you think about the popular appeal of Tibetan Buddhism in eastern part of China?  Because in some urban areas, I find many people like Tibetan Buddhism and practice Tibetan Buddhism.  These are the people -- these are the Han people, not Tibetan people.

Third question is during the March riots in Lhasa not only Han businesses were affected, I think also some Muslim businesses were affected in Lhasa.  And there are Muslims in Tibet and also Christians, both Catholics and Protestants.  What's the attitude toward the Christian evangelism in Tibet?  What's the government's attitude, the local government, and what's the attitude of the Dalai Lama?

For Professor Dru Gladney, would you talk about -- I know, because this is a rare occasion to get some information.  I have been fascinated by those, but really want to learn.  And for the 10 acting minorities who are considered Muslim -- but you said there are some non-practicing.  Do you have a sense of the proportion of people who do not practice Islam among the 10 acting minorities, especially the Hui minority.

And also the question about evangelism, Christian evangelism in Xingjian.  What do you know about that, and what you can tell about that?  Thank you.

WORDEN:  Thank you.

NEDOSTUP:  You'll go first, Robby.  (Laughter.)

BARNETT:  Thank you so much.  Firstly, the Chinese government has poured huge amounts of money into restoring temples in Tibet, but it's basically a very small number of temples that are national monuments, the fatallah (ph) and so on.  But a couple of -- three have been put on UNESCO World Heritage site.  So a lot of money.

This is the phenomenon we have to bear in mind all the time about China.  There's never a China that tries to eliminate something or completely wipe out something.  It always has a carrot in one hand and a stick in the other.  It always has an incentive policy for that category and an elimination policy for that category.  And what's so tragic on the Tibet issue is the Chinese have moved the Dalai Lama from this side to that side.  They can't talk to the one person who can really very easily resolve their problem really very, very quickly because they're put in that eliminate category, the enemy category rather than the united front category.

When they're thinking about that category, they spend money on temples.  They don't spend money on local temples.  There's -- bout 3(thousand) 4,000 monasteries have been rebuilt in Tibet, probably 90 percent of them at a guess are entirely private, local money.  But they do -- the Chinese does national, big symbolic kinds of religion.  It has a -- unfortunately, it creates a notion of state folkloric practices with its money spending, not very evenly distributed.  But it's a very positive thing.

Now, popular appeal of Tibetan Buddhism -- wonderful point.  Huge increase in fascination and devotion, real devotion to Tibetan Buddhism among Chinese, not just Taiwan, but -- not just East Coast, but across middle class China, this is a massive phenomenon of devotion, a massive source of funds, very, very important.  There was -- a major monastery was basically wiped out about five years ago because it had 800 Chinese monks up in Liugong, Szechuan.  Basically that monastery is completely reassembled now very quietly in the last couple of years.

WORDEN:  Robby, has that been affected by the backlash after the -- the nationalist backlash after the protests in March?

BARNETT:  I was just going to say I have no idea.  I think you will find that Buddhism amongst Chinese completely survives the nationalist backlash because Buddhism is a non-centralized religion.  It is not a church.  It's a mass of thousands of little groupings each around their own lama.  So each lama will skillfully take their flock around that issue, will perhaps politely separate themselves from political issues, and the Chinese followers will be able to say this is different.  My lama is different from the Dalai Lama or something like that.  So I think it won't make a difference.

This is a huge resurgence of 1930s interest in Tibetan Buddhism that was cultivated by the Republicans in the 1930s.  The Panchen Lama gave teachings to 35,000 people in 1934, something like that, in I think Shanghai, was it?  Greg Tuttle, my colleague at Columbia, has written a wonderful book about this.  So this is, again, a historical re-emergence.

The Hui attacks -- yes, they're -- not just this time.  There were attacks on the Hui by Tibetans on March 14th.  This is a recurrent phenomenon.  You know, when you read the Chinese press saying oh, these Tibetans now they're so violent and this is because of the Dalai Lama or something, or when you read Westerners saying oh, this is so shocking, there must be a new climate in Tibetan politics or Tibetan attitudes, this is completely wrong.  There have been dozens of riots in Tibet in the last 20 years against Hui Muslims.  They're always started by rumors of pollution, you know, that somebody's food has been polluted or the water supply has been polluted.  A lot of antagonism.  Historically, it comes from 1930s, 1920s wars between the two communities and so on.  This has continued.

And I just want to say that when we look at Tibetan violence, when it's about race, it's really very typical in situations where you have very, very rapid demographic change in a small space.  And lastly, the Christians, the evangelists -- 90 percent of the Westerners working in Tibetan areas probably are hardcore fundamentalist Christian evangelists, many of them from America.  They're very, very much regarded with suspicion by other Westerners because many of them do have an agenda, which is to destroy Tibetan culture, although they will disagree with that.  They will say they respect the culture.  They only want to replace the religion.

They basically have been entirely supported by the Chinese state, and for the last few months there's been a slight change.  All the foreign language teachers in the TAR are necessarily members of an evangelical born again movement.  They're very nice people.  I work with them and know them.

But Tibetans all accept them wonderfully initially because they discover they like religion.  They think that's wonderful.  And later on they get -- when they get to the stage of serious converting, then some animosity arrives.  We're sort of still in that stage.

GLADNEY:  But they're cheap.  I mean, I would say 99 percent of the foreign workers in Xingjian -- and I had read something, like about 400 -- this is a large number -- are probably evangelical Christians, a large group of Koreans in South Korea.  Particularly in Central Asia the numbers go way up.  But now I'm just talking about Xingjian.

And I don't think it's really -- again, it's like the migration issue.  It's not so much that the Chinese government is sending Han and other workers into the region.  They're attracted.  There are opportunities there for the poor as well as for these teachers.  They need foreign skilled labor, and they're cheap and they're clean.  These Christian teachers -- they don't take drugs.  They don't sleep with the students, they're reliable, they show up to work on time, and they get support from the outside.  So they're cheap.

And so I think it's not as if there's some devious plot to -- in fact, there could be an argument to say that the Chinese government policy towards nationalities has done more to preserve culture than to eradicate it.  China is the only government in the world that I know that spends millions -- (inaudible) -- dollars to translate documents, to create languages, ethnic languages that didn't exist, to have bilingual, multilingual publications, to allow second and third language education at the elementary school level.  In places like Xingjian, it's not just Ouiger and Chinese, but you have Kazakh.  You have Kyrgyz.  You have a lot of other languages that are being actively taught, and publications, newspapers, radio broadcasts, television shows.

So China's government policy is I think somewhat conflicted on this issue.  On the one hand, there's a lot of preservation and a lot of energy devoted to that.  On the other hand, there has to be, you know, a recognition that China very much wants integration.

So when groups are thought to be threatening, then they will -- the strength of the state will come to bear so that you do see overflowing mosques and young boys studying Islam in the madrassa, often state-funded madrassa, in interior China.  But you go to Xingjian and you don't see that because the government's very strict.  And so these loose rules about religion are sometimes more applied in areas such as perhaps the autonomous region and Muslim areas as opposed to the non-autonomous regions where there are Muslims, such as Gonsu and Ching-Hai.

And I think also the comment about secularism and Islam, non-practicing Muslims -- I think sometimes that's often generational or regional.  You know, urban Muslims tend to be more secularist.  But I've found that, you know, like in many of these, you know, religious populations as they get closer to, you know, thinking about the future or when there are great events, like funerals or marriages, then religion will come out.

And religion is I think -- we have to think about -- among Muslims in China as ethno-religious.  It's part of their identity.  It's part of their cultural background.  So even if you have Communist Party members who are Hui or Ouigers, you know, they will make all of these sort of atheistic statements and sign the documents in public, but in a private persona you might see that, well, they won't eat pork, or they will be very, you know, well versed in the religious traditions, such as weddings and funerals, et cetera.

So I don't know that we can actually -- and I think Mayfair Yang's book that -- and part of what I was involved with as well -- the notion of Chinese religiosity.  It's not so much religion as much -- you know, institutionalized religions, though we have them, but it's the awareness of ritual and private practice and the appeal of the richness of religious practice that is not just for Muslims or Buddhists, but it's for -- in popular religion in China, pervasive in Chinese society as well.

WORDEN:  So we're going to go in the back here.  Moira Moynahan.

QUESTIONER:  My name is Moira Moynahan, and I'm the executive producer of the documentary about Paldon Gyatso's life and his -- called "Fire Under the Snow," his 33 years in a Chinese labor camp in prison.  And I know that since March 14th, when riots exploded in Tibet that the Chinese government has accelerated arrests, torture, deportation of Tibetans with particular persecution meted out to the Buddhist clergy there.

And as China approaches the Olympic Games and gets set to host this enormous international gathering in August, it appears to be tightening security grip around tourists and journalists who will be coming for the Games as it continues the crackdown in Tibet.  So I'd like to ask the panel what they predict or foresee may happen with the Olympics as the international spotlight beams on Tibet.

WORDEN:  Any many other parts of China, yes.  We'll perhaps start with Robby and then move along to the other panelists.

BARNETT:  Thank you very much.  I suppose we're in one of those classic situations where Chinese Marxists and Chinese analysts teach us to think about contradictions.  (Scattered laughter.)  And this is a situation where contradictions are going to manifest.  And it's a very interesting one because I have -- I don't like to -- I don't want to be patronizing at all, but I think there is another historical problem for China, which is China has become used to -- and by China I mean the central leadership, you know, recognizing your point about the distinctions within the state -- but China's become used to the idea of the symbolic ritual event, a kind of -- I don't -- it's not a state religion, but this huge importance in the way the Communist Party organizes social life and history around major events -- anniversaries, festivals and so on.  And this is the biggest one of all perhaps since -- I don't know -- 1959 10th anniversary of liberation.

Now, of course, in the Chinese climate those were managed.  You could contain every form of input and output and so on that happened with these, and the Olympics, of course -- China's discovering you can't manage, the way it's experienced, the way it's understood.  The symbolism of the Olympics is in freefall.  And that's very difficult for China.  As they try to manage that, they're going to have to live with the difference or the different interpretations.

And the problem for China is will it overreact to the protests that will happen?  Will it crush those in full view?  Will it stop people seeing them and produce more contradictions that a benevolent, modern state that crushes its protests?

Well, I'm very interested in something that Han Donfang has been saying for a couple of years, which is the problem for the Olympics won't be what we'll think, you know -- will Falun Gong -- they're keeping very carefully quiet on this.  (Inaudible) -- keeping quiet.  Tibetans -- not much involved in Olympics except for the exiles.  The problem he's saying will be the petitioners, the letters and petition people, Chinese people often from the countryside who for years and years have deep, unanswered grievances about their personal lives and so on who will try to get to Beijing or other cities and join this occasion.  That could be much more --

WORDEN:  And I should say the petitioners have a legal right to petition the state that dates back to ancient times, but the petitioners' village that at one point numbered 10,000 people in Beijing -- the final remnants of that were cleared out last September.  So they've been dispersed, but these are people who have dedicated their lives to settling their grievances.

Rebecca, do you have any thoughts about this?

NEDOSTUP:  Well, picking up on this -- I think this is one area in which the earthquake has really sort of changed the game or opened up this -- the question of sort of ritual or civil ritual in a completely new way.  And I'm thinking of the moment of silence or the non-silent moment of silence because, you know, of course, it was met by so many car horns all over China.

But it was observed so widely, and -- you know, I wasn't in China at the time, but I knew a lot of people who were and wrote extremely moving accounts of it.  And this is a case where all the stage management of -- that the state could do in a sense didn't really matter because people were really joining into this in a very sincere way.

And this to me is much more significant than any kind of reinvention of Confucianism and Gonggi, and, you know, sort of Confucian ceremony that could go on because I know that the state tried to do that in the 1930s and it didn't go over very well.  And I'm not very convinced that any attempt to do that -- you know, however many times they go to the Yellow Emperor's tomb, that's always going to be a stage managed sort of thing.

But this is something different.  And the -- because it's also backed up with genuine acts of contributing and donating blood and donating money and people leaving their jobs for a week or a month or more to go to Szechuan.

So there is something else going on here, and it may be a little bit tied to the Olympics, but it may be something else entirely.  So that's what sort of I'm keeping my eye on.  And it seems to have deflected a lot of this -- the nationalist rhetoric that developed after the torch protests.

WORDEN:  I'd just make one quick comment that as you watch this civil ritual of the Olympics in China unfold, pay attention to what an enormously public and important role the ethnic minorities will play in this ritual.  They'll be forefront in the -- front and center.  And Tibetans are often almost in the very front.

And I think -- you know, it's important to realize how important multinationalism, multiculturalism is to China because it sends a signal to the entire country and the world that China is a united place, that it's brought all of these different cultures together.  It's not monolithic.  It's not monocultural.

There is somewhat a contradiction there as well, because on the one hand, China wants to bring its country together.  On the other hand, it also wants to preserve these differences and showcase them, but only certain kinds of differences.  In other words, there are many differences that are masked by those 56 minority nationalities and one great majority, the Han Chinese.

But, you know, China has much to be proud of that it's going to be celebrating.  And it'll be -- you know, what's fascinating is that many of these minorities are equally proud of their country.  I remember sitting in a cafe in Xingjian with some Ouigers, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbek students who had been involved with a research project over the summer, and we were celebrating around a big hot pot, lamb hot pot.  There was lots of beer there, though these were Muslims.  They were over 21.  And there was a lot of celebration at our table, but there was a lot of complaints about government policy and everybody -- you know, academics when they get together, they tend to complain a lot.

And then suddenly there was a celebration out in the street, and it was May 12th, and they had just nominated Beijing -- Beijing had just won the Olympics.  And these students from many different ethnic Muslim backgrounds were just out in the street as happy as anyone, thrilled for their country.

And I think what Americans can't understand is that when we criticize China on issues such as Tibet or its treatment of its Muslims, Chinese think that we're trying to drag that country down, we're trying to keep them back, hold them back.  It's not that we're that concerned about human rights issues.  It's that we really don't want to see China succeed, and we don't -- and we, you know, think China's a threat, things like that.

And I think what we fail to realize is that the Chinese have the right to celebrate, that many of these minority groups will be celebrating, and it'll be a tremendous civic ritual event.  At the same time, you know, China won't be able to manage the criticisms that will come out, the many, many layers of issues, the difficult issues, the challenges China has ahead of itself to continue with this pace of development and satisfy the many complaints that its population has.

WORDEN:  And I was given a few minutes to run over. The -- you know, we've walked right up to the beginning of the Olympics.  I'd like to ask in closing for each of you to give us your view of what will happen after the pressure is off from the Olympics.  You know, what is the likely scenario, you know, for China after this year of very momentous events, some anticipated, some not anticipated?  You know, what is the scenario?  Will things get tighter perhaps in some of the ethnic regions, or will there be a collective national sigh of relief?  Is it possible, then, to return to the general track of reform that we've seen over the last 30 years?  And why don't we start again on the end with Robby?

BARNETT:  Well, of course, I don't know what's going to happen, but it's very interesting to see how constantly everybody on every side of the picture is changing.  You know, suddenly we have Chinese people on the Internet suddenly taking up the Tibet issue and defending their government, although the week before they were critics of their government.  We have the Chinese government, you know, that is talking with the Dalai Lama's people on one side and attacking them on the other.

We have American policy, has actually been very gentle on China during the Tibet issues and less so than in Europe and lots of changes.  We had a remarkable moment during the Tibet issues when all the European governments and much of the West was pretty unified in criticizing China.  These things are changing all the time.

And one of the changes that's happening, which is really interesting and is a result of -- perhaps of the earthquake, but not just -- is people outside learning how to play the Chinese song, how to listen to what China wants to hear without becoming panda huggers.  (Laughter)  And this is a new kind of appeal that comes out of this Chinese nationalism, which is be nice to us. Differentiate in your criticism.

And I notice how the earthquake has led to this.  I mentioned it earlier.  A lot of Tibetans doing prayers for victims, the Dalai Lama insisting that people not stage any anti-China protests during much of May, giving a $50,000 donation to the International Red Cross.

This is very interesting because this is learning to differentiate between your politics and your alliances if you like, to say we like you Chinese people.  We sympathize with this and that.  We just disagree about that thing.  American government trying to do this as well, different groups trying to do this.

I think the Olympics will be an opportunity where we'll see people trying to learn that new way of differentiating their criticisms, trying to find ways to talk to China and Chinese people in a more nuanced way.  And I think that will come -- the same thing will happen with Chinese people talking to the West saying, well, we recognize this is wrong, but on the other hand, this works for us.  So I think that could be a positive outcome here.

WORDEN:  Rebecca.

NEDOSTUP:  Well, I think that there is probably two levels going on.  One may just keep on percolating the way that it's always been and one may change a bit.  The one that may keep on percolating the way it's always been -- I'm not so sure it's necessarily been affected by any of the Olympics -- is the level of local religion.  And that really hasn't come up that -- it came up a little bit in the first session, hasn't really come up too much in this session.

Because the question of how that is affected by state regulation is a very good one because it's not one of, you know, the five religions.  This is a question -- there has been a question that has come and gone with state authorities of whether it should be made a state religion.  It seems to have gone pretty much in the last couple of years.  And so -- but it's flourished and flourished largely through the contributions of entrepreneurs, especially local entrepreneurs, have poured a lot of money into local religion.

And that, I think, may just keep on going the way it has been.  There may be a question after the Olympics of whether or not the government now has a little bit more breathing space to revisit this issue.  But, again, that may just continue on as it always has been.  The issue that really have seemed to come to the fore with the Olympics and the earthquake is the state's contact with international religious groups.  And now, you know -- and especially intra-Asia religious groups as well as sort of East-West contacts.  And that's especially come out in the past few months with these contacts with religious charities from other parts of Asia.  And I think that those dialogues may well increase after the Olympics.

BARNETT:  Well, I think it depends on how many gold medals China wins.  (Laughter.)  And not just on the playing field, but also I think in terms of world recognition for its management of such a global event.

China, I think, is now on a world stage like never before, and it's shifting the way we see the world.  And I'm hoping that it shifts the way we see China, that there'll be great awareness and that China itself will be a more secure state, a more open society.  And that I think will be good for its marginal peoples.

China is very insecure on issues such as religion, it's very afraid of some of these religious movements so that as a state itself, having a secular background -- I mean, when we talk about religion in China, we talk about religiosity.  There's a lot of religion going on.  But who manages the state?  It's a state bureaucracy.

And who are those people?  Most of those people came up through a very secularist, atheist educational system.  They never had Introduction to Christianity 101.  They (laughs) never had any training on religion, these state bureaucrats.  And they're often very afraid of what they can't understand.

Why are people so motivated by Tibetan Buddhism?  What is the appeal of Christianity?  What is the strength of Islam?  Why don't, you know, people listen to someone like, you know, Al-Zawahiri?  Why don't Ouigers -- why are they interested in Wahhabism?  Why is conservative Islam attractive to young, modern, educated Ouiger professionals?  What is attractive about that?  That's very threatening to an insecure government.

Now, if China, I think, becomes -- recognizes that it is a very secure state; no one's threatening China in terms of armies on its borders.  Many people want to see China succeed, but also be a responsible stakeholder in the world, not just with its own population in terms of human rights, but also on the environmental issues that affect the entire globe.  And I think -- I hope that if China does well with the Olympics -- and many gold medals, not just on the playing field -- that it will lead to a more open, more secure China that will be good for Chinese, not just Han Chinese, but all Chinese citizens as well as global citizens.

WORDEN:   Well, thank you to our speakers.  We've run a little bit over, so we'll have a very short break before convening for Session three.  And thank you all for helping us with such a fascinating -- (applause).

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

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This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

SUSAN ROOSEVELT WELD: Let's start the next session. I'm very sorry, I just think -- we, unfortunately, have been left with a little less time than we had planned, and so I want to make sure that all our wonderful speakers will have a chance to give us their views about what's going on with religion in China and the future of religion in China.

And this is the third panel, and it's really one of the most -- I think the most exciting of the three panels. It's not the adversarial side of the state and religion, but it's what religion can do in future, and maybe has done already, in building China's economic growth, China's civil society, building a new social welfare system at the grassroots, and coping with the significant kinds of discontent and unrest that have been plaguing the Chinese countryside for the last several decades -- couple of decades anyway.

So I get to introduce to you our three speakers. And the first one I'm going to introduce is Adam Chau, who I first came to know of through a great paper he wrote about the word condemned in Chinese which were being painted on houses in different parts of the cities of China as the great construction projects go on. And he's now gone on to write a book -- a wonderful book, and now he's soon to be working at the University of London, lecturer on the sociology of China.

ADAM YUET CHAU: Anthropology. Anthropology of China.

WELD: Anthropology of China. And the next job is going to be university lecturer in the Anthropology of Modern China, in the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Cambridge. So, welcome to you, Adam.

And we also have Richard Madsen, famous to us all as being one of the authors of "Habits of the Heart," who wrote about -- who writes about both modern U.S. society and sociology, and China. , luckily, for all of us here -- has written some of them most exciting things I've read on the topic recently.

And Bob Weller -- all these people, the bios are in the books, so you can read the things which are a little bit more organized than what I'm telling you now. But I had Bob come down and talk at the Congressional Executive Commission on China when I was down there, being its general counsel.

The Commission was looking at religion in China in for the reasons that you all can imagine. It works on human rights, and it works on the rule of law in China. And Congress runs it. It has eight senators and eight representatives, and they're interested in certain aspects of Chinese life.

And religion is -- at the time, at the present, I think at the time -- this present time in the U.S. religion is a very important and growing phenomenon too. So they wanted us to look at religion in China, and we did do as good a job as we could with the help of experts such as Bob Weller.

So I'm going to start out right now with what our experts here have to say on the future of Chinese religion and the growth of civil society and economic growth in China. I do want to say one thing is that we've been hearing -- in the last panel especially, sorts of adversarial things about the government, the state and religion.

And it really is not a new thing. It goes back throughout Chinese history, as we've heard from different historians -- I'm a historian, and I do want to say that famous phrase from Gu Yanwu who talks about why the state worries about religion, why the state worries about religious beliefs and superstitions.

And he says that, "When people orient themselves to the spirits excessively, they do not respond to the state's iron tools of punishment, so the state really feels a lapse in its ability to control the populations." And I just think that's maybe the same worry that the current government has.

Here I go. I'm going to start out with you, Bob. I'd love to hear whatever you have to say on this topic, but what I'm especially curious about is the comparison with the liberalization of rules on religion in Taiwan, and that which may occur in Mainland China -- whether or not China can go that same route; whether -- this is also for you, Dick, whether the existing religions, especially Buddhism can develop the social welfare organizations as fantastic and strong as -- (background noise) -- has in Taiwan, especially since, as we learned from the earlier panel that organization has really been a huge help in the earthquake.

And Adam's work is grassroots work in Shaanxi Province, on how a local temple was able to build up itself again and become relevant to the community. I want to know all about that, both economic and civil society aspects.

So, Bob, can I start with you. I don't think I've asked you all the different questions we talked about, but anything you have to say I would love to hear.

ROBERT WELLER: All right, so let me say a bit about the liberalization of policy toward religion in Taiwan, and what, if anything, that means for the People's Republic of China.

So, things changed quite a bit in Taiwan after democratization, that is after 1987. Before that, the policy toward religion in Taiwan was, in many ways, the inheritance of the earlier nationalist party rule in China -- that Rebecca Nedostup, in her professional work, writes about quite a bit, and she talked about a little bit today -- that is it's a policy that already was seeing religion as something superstitious, that had to be put up with; Christianity as maybe okay because it went with the West, but even that not particularly welcomed; and folk religion simply as some feudal remnant and embarrassing superstitious thing, that it would be nice if it disappeared but we can't quite get rid of it.

So they come to Taiwan in 1945 -- after the Japanese leave, after 50 years of occupation, and they immediately start propaganda campaigns against popular religion, and they immediately create national level organizations to deal with the Daoists and the Buddhists. So, I shouldn't say "create," because they're continuing Mainland Chinese policies from earlier in the century.

It's not very different from the situation in China right now. That is, there's not any legal position for most local temple religion, and yet, in practice, it's more or less tolerated in what Yang Fenggang has called the gray, the "gray market" for Chinese religion -- not exactly illegal, but not really legal -- tolerated.

So they did that. Buddhists were organizing the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China; Daoists in a similar one. Just Christians were a rather -- for historical reasons, rather separately organized. But because the Presbyterian church -- by far the largest in Taiwan, became rather closely tied to Taiwan independence politics, there was a lot of tension at that end as well.

So that's the situation. There's no cultural revolution, but in many ways it does -- it looks again like 1950s kind of PRC policy, which is also the inheritor of this earlier 20th century world change in attitude that Rebecca had talked about.

What happens in 1987, if it's democratic you need to go where the voters are, and that's the temples. You know, what are the social ties that tie a rural community together in a Chinese society? Their kinship and their temples. Those are the two main things.

So, every politician started showing up in temples -- mainlander politicians with no ties to traditional Taiwanese religion, like Ma Ying-jeou, the new president -- these guys show up in temples. They all show up in temples. A totally different attitude occurs toward local religion at that point.

So what does any of this mean for China? Are we, at some point, going to get a totally new attitude? And I'd say, you know, the first lesson of Taiwan is you can be an authoritarian government, allow a certain kind of religious civil society to exist, but keep it under control. And you can go on like that for a long, long time.

That's the first lesson of Taiwan. It's not that Taiwan democratized, it's that you can rule pretty successfully in this corporatist kind of structure that China has right now, and that Taiwan had for many decades before it finally did democratize.

The second thing, though, is there are all kinds of resources that exist in the entire religious panorama of China -- that others have already talked about, that are really important, I think, in the process of democratization. I do not think they created democratization, but I do think they're crucial to the ability to adapt to it.

Mayfair earlier said something nice about -- you know, democracy, simply declared from on high, is never really going to be democracy. Something has to grow up from the bottom. And in Taiwan's case, part of what that was was all these local resources that existed, partly because of the religious experience of people.

So, I think it's important -- it's important, therefore, that China is tolerating this kind of religiosity again, but it's not a guarantee of any particular kind of future change I don't think.

WELD: Thank you very much.

Dick.

RICHARD MADSEN: Well, in Taiwan, as was mentioned, one of the most fascinating things in the last 20 years, since they made this transition to democracy after 1987, was this explosion of religiosity -- organized religiosity among the emerging middle classes.

Taiwan's always been awash in religion, local folk religion, and so forth, but what I found interesting -- I wrote this little book about it recently -- was that there was an enormous kind of explosion, a very well organized religion among these emerging middle classes, people you would've thought would have sort of given up on religion as they left the villages, and got a secular education, and so forth.

And one of the groups, of course, was this group that you mentioned, Tzu Chi, the Buddhist Compassion Relief Association. But there are others. There's, like, the Buddha's Light Mountain; there's the Dharma Drum Mountain; and there's other groups like this -- mostly Buddhist, some Daoist too.

One religious group that's actually declined in Taiwan, in significance and energy, has been the Christians. And I argue one reason was that they were actually privileged during this era of repression, partly because of the Cold War. They couldn't afford to antagonize Christians. So many people in the old China lobby were, you know, Christian missionaries and so forth.

So the Christians were able to have universities -- Donghua University, you know, in Taiyuan; Fu Jen University, the Catholic university in Taipei, and things like that. The Buddhists, Daoists, never -- never allowed that kind of stuff. They wanted to decapitate these religious intellectually. They don't want it. You know, the folk religion was okay -- local level, keep it dispersed; and no large lay organizations and so forth.

So now what's exploded are these groups -- since 1987, which are, have large lay organizations, and do all sorts of this kind of work. The Tzu Chi organization has -- it claims about, I think, 4 million members, defined as "lay people," who donate some money regularly every month. At the core, it's only about 100 nuns in this, in this monastery in Hualien.

The Buddha's Light Mountain has about 1,300 -- maybe less than 2,000 monks and nuns, but then also lay organizations millions of people strong. Dharma Drum Mountain the same. And these groups have been engaged in all sorts of works of charity of various kinds, and all going global. So they give out charity to China -- for instance, in the earthquake, and they were one of the first people who went there.

But, they've also been around the world. The Tzu Chi, for instance, you know, in 1991 went global. And it's part of their spiritual cultivation. It's -- the way they understand it is, you have to expand people's hearts.

And it's sort of similar, it's like Buddhist meditation where you have to learn how to sit in this lotus position, and it really hurts. And the way in which you reach that center of, you know, contemplation is you fight through the pain until you don't feel anymore and, you know, and you get this kind of -- Well, the same thing with charity. What you have to do is reach out to people who are different, not the people you normally like. And reach out and stretch yourself, and keep pushing and then we'll expand your heart.

And so they've been giving aid to Mainland China -- Tzu Chi, for instance, since 1991 -- (audio break) -- all throughout Southeast Asia, places like Bangladesh, Rwanda, Kosovo, even helped rebuild a hospital in Fallujah in Iraq. And here, of course, too, when they helped some of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks, for example, and also Hurricane Katrina, and elsewhere.

So there's an issue of, kind of, helping people around the world, expanding your heart in that way. And the other groups have done similar things. And so it's quite remarkable that this happened. And what I argue, at least partially, is that this has been conducive to the development of democracy -- even though it's non-political, in a fortuitous way, because in lots of places in the world religion -- new religious movements can have a very negative effect. Basically, religion, you know, can do very good things, wonderful tings, but in other places it's like pouring gasoline on fires of ethnic resentment and local, you know, anger and so forth.

In Taiwan, the net effect of this, though, was sort of the opposite. It cooled down certain kinds of ethnic divisions, of course, which are very important in Taiwan. It kind of builds bridges, and so forth, over in the mainland. And so it had that kind of positive effect, which I think was useful in helping to consolidate this very fragile democracy you have in Taiwan, which is always -- seems on the verge of chaos, but has somehow held together.

WELD: Thank you very much.

Now Adam, can you tell us a little of your initial investigations in Shaanxi and the rebuilding of the temple structure there?

CHAU: Yes. In the mid to late 1990s, I conducted field work in northern Shaanxi Province, which is close to Inner Mongolia, between Xian and Baotou in Inner Mongolia. And, basically, it was -- I studied the revival of a temple called the Black Dragon Temple. And as, basically, hundreds of thousands of other temples in China, they were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the -- around 1964, the Socialist Education campaign, and then during the Cultural Revolution.

But a lot of them, in some ways, at least, have been revived in the '80s, '90s, and these include cults devoted to dragon kings, fertility goddesses, immortals and other kinds of deities. Some of them have spirit mediums that can speak in the gods' voices. Some do not have them -- but all of them have regular celebrations, temple festivals and set out to garner the social forces of local communities.

Rebecca mentioned earlier these are the religious observances, or religiosities that are not recognized by the state as religion, but rather superstitious activities. So most of them actually are, in theory, illegal. So, the police is supposed to actually crack down on these activities. But in the '80s and '90s, we increasingly see that, in most parts of China, these crackdowns are very, very rare because local police are, basically, siding with the people.

In fact, they're not only not cracking down but helping the maintain law and order when there is a temple festival, because they get a lot of benefits from temple festivals as well, in terms of income. So in my case, the Black Dragon King Temple boss, Lao Wang regularly sponsored the local police station's, say upgrading their gear -- (laughter). And whenever they visit to help with temple festivals, they would, you know, house them in the back dormitory, and wine and dine them, and make sure they're happy before they leave.

So, there's a, sort of, symbiotic relationship now developing between local cults and local state. And Rebecca mentioned earlier that we should distinguish the central government that, really far away, have these directives that, when they arrive at the local level are rarely implemented fully, especially when they're relating to religious policies.

And I guess some of your -- some of the audience might wonder, this kind of local religion -- you know, spirit mediumism, temple festivals, drawing divination lots, what foreign policy relevance might these have? But I just want to remind us that actually the -- Taiping Rebellion, for example, in the 19th century, even though it was largely Christian inspired, but it has actually incorporated a lot of local religion -- popular religious elements. And the Boxer Rebellion, of course, had enormous input from opera tradition in North China plains and popular religious sentiments.

And then even the current -- excuse me, Falun Gong has a lot of folk religious elements, for example, possession by animal spirits, and things like that. So, I think a lot of times we -- there are a lot of things happening. We don't really know what's going on in rural China because we haven't done a lot of empirical research. And it's only when things come to a head, where things happen, we realize, oh, that's an important thing. But we do not know enough of it. And I think -- so, I think we should keep a close eye on what's going on in rural China.

WELD: Do you think the state clearly worries about traditional religion as a possible source of conflict and instability? I mean, certainly their reaction to some of the Falun Gong -- their rhetoric of saying, follow the road of science, don't follow superstition and harm your body -- which is how they respond to the healing aspects of Falun Gong, and I presume to some of the healing aspects of other cults. Because they fear -- they fear, just what you have said, the Taiping Rebellion kinds of things starting up from that sort of context.

CHAU: Yeah, I personally don't know enough about the Falun Gong case. But in terms of these local folk religions, the state has been very tolerant because they are so locale-based, very dispersed and, in fact, some scholars work on the rural China, for example: after the collapse of the Maoist organizational mechanism, rural life is becoming very atomized and you can even say "sad." People go back home and watch TV, but there's no longer a collective spirit in many communities.

Where there is a temple or temple festival, that's where the social organizational spirit of the Chinese come to the fore. And I think the state probably appreciate this kind of grassroots social force -- that it enhances the communal spirit of local society.

MADSEN: I think this reminds me of Taiwan in the 1950s, and so forth. The old Nationalist party, just like the Communist Party, came from the so-called May Fourth era period, in early 20th century. And their project initially was, get rid of all this religion, this local religion. You know, this was pre-modern, and to get a modern state you've got to this thing out because it was basically -- that was reinforced localism, local village, local family, local corporate identity -- you had to take that out and replace it with modern ideology. And missionaries, people like Timothy Richard, at the end of the 19th century, total reformers. That's what you have to do, get rid of that. So, they destroyed these temples. They destroyed everything that basically was the basis for a local community and local meaning to create a modern society.

And by the '50s, because of the way in which the Guo Ming Dang took over Taiwan, they decided, well, we can't do that anymore, at least in Taiwan. And so in Taiwan they allowed this to flourish. And so China today is sort of back to, like, 1950s Taiwan, as far as the local religion is concerned I think.

WELD: They have, actually, their regulations on religious affairs, don't -- in terms, treat traditional religion. However, in Hunan Province there is a regulation -- a local regulation which allows for the, for the state to regulate traditional religion. And sorrowfully, they've put out regulations recently which are quite restrictive.

And they, for example, they only allow traditional religious entities to be built on sites which already have such a temple, or shrine, or something. They don't allow new ones to be founded. So at least in that province, their reaction's been restrictive.

WELLER: Yeah, I think that Hunan experiment was an interesting one, that two or three, four years ago was a point where I think we started getting a lot of ferment within Chinese government circles about what do we do about religion. Yang Fenggang, I think the point he wanted to end with was, there's not a single voice, there's actually, really a lot of discussion about what the inadequacies of the current policy are, and what do we do now.

And many things are possible. So for a local religion, one of the things on the table was let's have a sixth religion -- not Confucianism, but folk religion, meaning Tseng Sung Chao (ph) would become number six. And there was some experimentation, and I think the Hunan thing is one of those -- one of those experiments that was done with trying to treat popular religion as a religion.

Now, what would that mean to treat it as a religion? It means giving it certain rights. You do get to be a legally registered temple under certain circumstances. Hunan took a rather conservative position about what that was, but in some ways that was a radical improvement because it took any of this out of the realm of feudal superstition and gave it some legal protection.

On the other hand, you know, what's the downside of this entire thing? It's that once it's legal it's regulated. Government supervision becomes much, much stronger -- and that, we saw that really clearly in the Hunan thing.

I was in Shanghai just a few weeks ago and talking to some people about this, and they said, yeah, well, we're not really doing that anymore. And I don't -- how representative this was, I don't know. But I was told this sixth religion thing, we're probably not going in that direction. So, I think what we have there is an experiment which may not have any follow through.

Instead, the idea of the moment -- and, you know, will this work, I don't know -- the idea of the moment is to deal with local religion as an aspect of Chinese culture. And so to celebrate it -- to celebrate the Black Dragon God Temple, as, you know, the importance of dragons in Chinese culture; and when we throw our gigantic annual temple festival this is not superstitious worship of false spirits, but it's a celebration of the roots of China's great cultural tradition.

And this is not usual. We have temples now all over China, not registering as temples, which is quite hard to do, but registering as museums, for instance, or lineage halls, which are not legal organizations, registering as museums, or cultural showcases, or this kind of thing. So that seems to be the direction of the moment. But I would just reiterate what Fenggang said before, this is very much under discussion right now.

WELD: What does that do to the counts of the numbers of believers in China, if your temple is registered not as a religious site but a tourist site?

WELLER: Maybe some of the statistician-types in the audience might want to speak to this more. I'm deeply suspicious of all count of believers in China because some types of religion are easy to count. Christians tend to be easy to count because you're -- you know, you're out, but you've been baptized or you haven't been baptized.

What's a Buddhist? That's a very tough question. Is a Buddhist somebody who's taken certain vows, Bodhisattva vows? Well, yes, by some definitions. But by others, if you go to Taiwan and ask somebody on the street, are you a Buddhist, and they usually say, yes. And what they mean is, they burn incense twice a month to Modzu or Guangong or some local deity who's got nothing to do with Buddhism. In fact, the word in Taiwanese dialect, a god image is called "a Buddha," you know, whatever it's Buddhist connections may or may not be.

So, what's -- what's a Buddhist? And that even is clearer than this stuff that we don't even know how to name, right -- folk religion, local temple belief, whatever that is, believe, sort of, has nothing to do with that. So I've had people tell me, I don't have any religion -- I mean, no religion -- but I burn incense to spirits every day. Because for them religion is -- as Rebecca defined it, a thing with text, with priests, with an initiation rite like baptism that brings you in. They don't have any of that.

Instead, what they do is pay respect to spirits. And the word they use usually is Bai or Bai-Bai or something like that, which is also used in nonreligious terms to pay respects to a superior. I can pay respects to you -- and you don't know what I think, but I still paid respects by behaving in a certain kind of a way. So am I believer? You can't really answer that. It's an inappropriate question.

So, how do you count? You could do a more sophisticated questionnaire, and there are some that say, you know, have you burned incense for an ancestor in the last month, in the last year? (Laughter.) That's how you have to do it if you want to get at this local religiosity. Or through other areas, do you hire a geomancer to site your parents' coffin at a funeral? Those are the kinds of questions you have to ask. If you say, which religion do you believe in -- Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, none -- it's an -- it's a question that for many, many Chinese is almost impossible to answer.

WELD: Here is a question about the way religion can either affect someone as an individual or as part of the community. Religion can form the community to take in, to embrace individuals, or it can focus light on the individual, and the individuals can be using religion as its access to future life or good luck or whatever.

I'd like to start with you, Adam. In your -- in your experience in looking at local religion in Shaanxi, was that a religion focused on the individual, in any way, or can you parse it out in those terms?

CHAU: Right. I think the individual level definitely is important. I think, for example, each person going through life has like increment, or successive encounters with different spiritual forces. For example, it's only when, say, you have already had two daughters and you really desperately want the third child to be a son. That would bring you and your wife to the fertility goddess temple. And then you say it was successful. Then your relationship to this fertility goddess is sort of affirmed and established. And you will always go back and tell other people about the efficacy of this fertility goddess; whereas, if you didn't have that problem you probably would never have gone to this fertility goddess, even though it's in the neighborhood. So it's very individual and personal.

But, I think, more importantly, it is at the familial and the communal level, because I've tried to develop this notion of doing religion, which is that it's -- doing religion is not always about religiosity, or the spiritual, or -- but rather things that relate to a kind of religious practice or a religious life, including donating money to build a temple, or participating in a temple festival to help create a hustle-bustle atmosphere which bring testimony to the gods' efficacy.

And so just as if it would not be appropriate to ask a Chinese rural peasant whether, you know, you believe in the Black Dragon King, or the fertility goddess or Guangong, it's also inappropriate to restrict analysis of religion to the purely spiritual and, you know, mental relationship between deity and the person. Rather, you have to be much broadened.

And I also want to mention the economic aspect. I think for every one Chinese dollar donated to a Chinese church or mosque, there must be 10, 20 or 30 Chinese dollars used to hire a spirit medium, funeral specialist -- Buddhist or Daoist, or otherwise -- at a funeral; or buy incense money and things like that. So the economic impact of popular religion is actually quite big, even though it's often invisible because so much of this is transactional and are not, you know, revealed in any public accounting sense.

WELD: Thank you.

Dick, could you tell us your --

MADSEN: -- (inaudible.) Well, I think I would maybe make a distinction, like, a sociological one, between, sort of, embedded and disembedded religion, okay. The great philosopher Charles Taylor has talked a lot about this in his recent book on secularism.

And, basically, in most societies in most parts of the world, religion is totally embedded in social life. This is the way it was in the West during Medieval Europe, most of the time. That it's very difficult to make a distinction between belonging to a church, and belonging to your village, and belonging to your family -- it's all part of the same thing. And your economic life, and your social life, and religious life are really what -- are one of a piece. And so it's hard to say where one ends and one begins.

And, in many ways, that's what it's like in many of these Chinese local communities. And so that's why people are -- and vague about whether they're religious or not. They're social -- they're part of this community, and just part of it, and to give up their religion would be the same as leaving your family. And so you just can't do it.

This is even the case in the -- oh, I did a little book on these Catholics in China too, and local Catholic villages are like that too. Basically, being a member of the village was to be a Catholic. That's all there was to it.

And they made a distinction between lax Catholics and fervent Catholics -- "lax" may be never showing up for church, and living a moral life that, say, the pope wouldn't have approved of, or anything like that. But, they're still a Catholic, right, because when they die they're going to buried as a Catholic, because, you know, they have to get connected with their ancestors. And so this is connected with the whole fabric of life. That's one kind, is embedded religion.

And then there's a more "modern" kind, if you want to call it that, in the West, after the Reformation especially, where you're supposed to make a personal faith commitment to God. You know, you receive Jesus into your heart, and so forth, and so on, and join some congregation. So leave -- and that's a new kind. Now, that's a special kind that we haven't seen much in the world. And, to some degree, these Chinese -- modern Chinese groups are doing that too. So, you join the temple, you know.

And so this becomes an individual search for individual salvation -- disembedded. And one problem with this -- from the point of view of the Chinese government, is that this leads people to, kind of, maybe link up beyond their local community into wider and wider networks. And then when that happens you have potential for trouble because you have potential for some force opposite to the state.

And, for example, in the rural areas you have all these -- now these Christians, especially Pentecostals, linking up to all these networks ramifying throughout the whole rural area. This raises the specter of, you know, united rural action. And there's an enormous amount of conflict in the rural areas. You know, the government a few years ago, has a statistic of 85,000 incidents -- riots and so forth, local villages complaining about the local conditions.

They can handle that as long as each of them are isolated, or localized. But if there's any way of communicating, you know, horizontally, then your potential for major mass movement, and then you have a lot of trouble. And so that's why the government is so wary of these translocal kinds of groups, which you begin to get when you get a disembedded sort of religion.

WELD: Thank you.

We've been focusing, to a large degree, on the rural situations. However, I know that some of the churches in the cities are getting to be sizeable. In -- (inaudible) recent article, the title of that article, significantly enough, is "The Growth of Religion and Social Stability in China," so the impact of this huge growth of religion on social stability, which is what, of course, the government is worried about.

In that article he mentions churches which can sit 1,000 -- a congregation of 1,000 people near Luyang and not just one, but three or more such churches in that limited area. What's the difference in the function of those churches for China's future economic growth, and these little rural kinds of relatively localized -- and I shouldn't say "church," I should say "religious structures?"

Bob, let's start with you.

WELLER: You know, I don't work much on Christianity, so I hesitate to say. Of the, you know, the various sources of Christianity in China, the places that have been Catholic for 400 years -- you know, since the Jesuits and the Dominicans. There are places that have been Protestant for 150 years, you know -- were whole villages . That's -- so that's one source is just ancestral.

And there's more recent conversions. And those fall into several different sorts of categories I think. So there's the, kind of, stereotypical, marginal people at the edges of everything, and Christianity offers them a way out. There are people quite the opposite of that. They're intellectuals who really get interested in Christianity, sometimes as simply a moral system with the religiosity subtracted, or sometimes not. And there's probably everything in between. We don't have -- we still don't have the good sociology, or the good anthropology of really what's going on on the ground here. And so that's why I'm kind of hesitating, really, to answer this question. I don't know what the answer is.

The social cohesion one -- I mean, Yu Jianrong has put his finger on the crucial thing the government is worried about. So, even that you could say, maybe -- maybe -- Christianity, or Buddhism, or any of the others, could contribute to social cohesion, this is a rather new thought.

I forget who was saying -- Dru, maybe, in the last session, that, you know, we have this generation of cadres, which is not the older -- you know, the older one grew up with religion. This one grew up with atheism. So, it's not even if they've had no religious education -- which is how you phrased it, they had an anti-religious education. They know that it's stupid. It's embarrassing. It's superstitious. It's false. They know that.

So that, you know, there's this enormous thing to overcome. And even to have this on the table, even to have an argument made in a public forum by somebody at CASS -- a kind of major government think-tank really, that's significant. Even if, again, they go some completely different direction, it's on the table. Right now I think that's really significant.

MADSEN: Chinese intellectuals -- this goes way, way back -- don't think the Chinese people are truly religious. That's what they told the Jesuits 400 years ago. The Jesuits saw these Mandarin intellectuals, and the said, well, you know what, we're not religious, you know, we don't have religion here. And the Jesuits basically said, all right, they just have morality, no religion, so forth and so on when 99 percent of the people had -- worshipping in temples and everything else. And I've seen the same thing. I've been to China, I've been -- it's a very sophisticated people, on foreign policy and so forth, I think telling me absolutely sincerely, not cynically, that we don't have any religion here. (Laughs.) And I think they basically believe it, because that's their image of themselves.

So, there's blind spots that just don't have to do with the -- (background noise) -- education. And so it's a problem for intellectuals that want to be modern to just kind of wrap their minds around how you basically kind of come to grips with a society which all these other things are going on.

And I think they're confused. They're as confused as we are (laughs), not more.

WELD: I won't to pick on you right now because -- (scattered laughter.)

And for a large number of years now the local government's main mission has been to create economic growth. Does -- do local officials in any way connect their focus on economic growth, with the growth of religion? Is it a reasonable expectation, or is religion seem to be antithetical to that?

Anybody can answer.

WELLER: I'll -- I'll try to talk about that. Do they have -- do officials have that in mind?

WELD: Yeah.

WELLER: Mostly, no. And the exceptions are areas with large amounts of migration. So that you have, say, Fujian and Guangdong on the Southeast coast. You have had generations of people going abroad, and living abroad, but maintaining ties or hoping now to renew ties back home. For them -- and what brings these people back home? Relatives, yes. But the graves and ancestral halls of their ancestors, and the temples -- of which they have daughter temples in Singapore, or New York, or wherever they are.

So, they're coming back and those people have cash in their pockets, or they're perceived at least, to have cash in their pockets by the local officials. So, in those cases, mostly that Southeast coast, going up into the Hangzhou area, right, in those cases, yes, they see a direct connection between this renewal of a kind of overseas religious trade, and business opportunities.

In other areas I don't think they see a direct connection. But it's an important issue: is religion helpful or not helpful for economic development, right? We have a big literature on this right now around the world. So one of the explanations for the rapid expansion of Protestantism, especially evangelical Protestantism in, say, Latin America, is that it's a -- one that's led to a lot more market success for poor people than the Catholicism that they have been brought up with.

China is a different situation, though. And here I'd emphasize what others, especially in the first session already emphasized, it's a very low level of institutionalization of religion and, therefore, extremely flexible. That is, there are no blocks against economic behavior in their religion. Even -- there could have been. Confucianism is not friendly toward the merchants, right. Those were the lowest of classes.

But, go ask a Chinese person anywhere whether they buy that, even the ones reviving Confucianism, you're not going to hear that anymore. Instead, what you have is this very flexible popular religion, and pieces of it have magnified that are very comfortable with the market economy. Temples were run as corporations -- shareholding corporations, very often. The word Gongsu which means a company, a modern corporation, in modern Chinese originally meant "the group that ran a temple."

So that quality of shareholding, of contacts, which were typically associated with these kinds of things -- and every peasant household in China usually had contracts, land deeds, but also contracts for dividing the family property at the death of the parents, or something like that. There's a lot in this very embedded socio-religious tradition -- I hesitate to call it all religion, but in this "embedded thing," there is a lot there that fits really easily with the modern economy. And we see this in all Chinese communities that seem very comfortable with the modern economy.

WELD: Adam -- (inaudible).

CHAU: Yeah, I could add to that. I guess the general climate of commercialization and commoditization in China today really added vibrancy to China's religious development. For example, one study shows anybody now can just raise funds and then decide to build a temple.

It's -- it's basically a very simple matter. If you feel a particular Buddha has appeared in your dream, and then he or she wants a temple built in a particular locale, you raise the money and persuade the local villagers that, I want to build a temple to this deity. And if the villagers say, okay, you can do it. And then part of the funds can be used to hire resident temple cleric. And then a community of believers will develop around this.

Another study which shows, for example, a lot of the Wenzhou merchants -- you know, Wenzhou, of course, is famous for commercial activities, and, you know, a lot of merchants have gone down to basically every corner of China. But there are a lot of Christian bosses now in Wenzhou.

After they earn a lot of money they come back and built churches in Wenzhou and in rural areas, and then compete with each other in terms of, like, whose temple, or -- I mean, whose church is bigger. And this kind of local competitive spirit is not only in their business culture but also in their church building and temple festival culture. So I think the economic aspect is going to be increasingly important.

WELD: I didn't want to miss -- this is the last question which, actually I want- maybe I should ask you all to give -- to ask your questions first. And I can insert this final one if I have a chance. So let's have questions from the audience.

Mayfair?

QUESTIONER: Mayfair Yang. I'm Mayfair Yang, I spoke earlier in the first panel.

I'd like to pursue this question of religion and economic development because I think it hasn't been stressed enough and it's very important. I think it's a real tragedy of the 20th century Chinese intellectuals that they thought that in order to develop and modernize economically, that they must kill religion because religion they put into the category of backwardness and superstition and --

(Cross talk.)

QUESTIONER: -- and so forth because, actually if you look at the history of China, China had commercialization even much earlier than the West. It had a printing industry much earlier than the West. So what -- we can say that China had pre-modern capitalism in the Song Dynasty, that was the commercial revolution, that was the urban revolution in China. And it was also in the Song Dynasty that popular religion came to take the shape that it does now.

One can also say that, you know, the paper money, as legal tender, was invented in China in the Song Dynasty, that's about 1000 A.D. And previous to that, religious money, spirit money that is burned in offerings to the ancestors and to the gods, was invented before paper money as legal tender by 400 years. The earliest traces are about 400 years before the invention of paper money as legal tender.

So -- also if you look at the compass, the modern compass, another famous Chinese invention, that was originally invented and put immediately to religious uses in geomancy -- positioning gravesites -- before it came to be used as a geographical navigation instrument. So there's a huge, you know -- and then Chinese medicine has all these connections with Daoism -- our chemical traditions cultivations of the body.

So, it's, again, a very wrong assumption that 20th century Chinese intellectuals have that to have modern science and technology you have to kill religion; to have modern economic development you have to kill religion. So that -- you know, religion is tied up with economy and science in the past in China.

WELD: Does the panel have any -- do you agree, or what would you like to do?

MADSEN: I would agree. Incidentally, though, one kind of, you know, discourse, a way of talking about this, in Taiwan -- this may come into play in China now, is that these festivals, local festivals waste money. And they've been -- one way the Taiwan government controlled some local religion was to basically have rules against spending too much money on these local festivals.

So, there's a way of thinking that this pumps money into the economy, but spending all this money on these kind of things is money could better -- could be spent on, you know, economic capital, growth, and so forth and so on. Whether that's true or not is another issue, but I think they think that way.

WELLER: If I can expand on that one. My earliest days in Taiwan were the late 1970s, and this was the constant refrain: that it's a waste of money to raise pigs to offer to the god at New Years -- even though you're going to eat the pig later, it's a waste of money, it's unsanitary. It's a waste of money buying all this paper spirit money that you're just going to burn up. It's a waste of money -- well, it's all a waste of money.

What does that mean it's a waste of money? Somebody went to a market and bought the paper spirit money. Somebody made this paper spirit money in a factory and paid wages. What does that mean it's a waste of money? It really means the money is circulating in a very local side of the economy, rather than being taxed and going to the central government who's using it for some giant state-planned automotive industry, or something like that.

How has Taiwan thrived? Not through gigantic state-planned automotive companies. They tried things like that. It never worked out very well. It's "mom and pop" capitalism that really carried Taiwan. And a lot of the dynamism in China is "mom and pop" capitalism. A lot of the dynamism in overseas Chinese communities is "mom and pop" capitalism, quite different from, say, Korea or Japan.

And this sort of local religiosity, and the investment in local community circulation of money, is totally sensible, I think, within that kind of a framework, and appropriate for China.

WELD: Yes?

QUESTIONER: I'm Helena Kolenda with the Luce Foundation.

I had question related to this, sort of, embedded versus disembedded religion, and the impact of the one-child policy on that -- the likelihood of it. I recognize that you said there hasn't been a lot of sociological or anthropological research, but if people are not so embedded into a community or a familial structure, because there is only one child, their relationship to ancestors may shift and so on. Has there been any evidence of then a move toward the more disembedded forms of individual religion as a result?

MADSEN: I think in the countryside, first of all, they don't really have a one-child policy. People have more than one child, especially if the first one is a girl. So there are more children, and larger families than you might think. And I think in those rural areas you're seeing plenty -- not everywhere, but plenty of revival of this local religion, like you've been talking about.

I think in the cities it's more of an issue. And there I would maybe think that, you know, there's, there's a certain pressure on individuation -- of people, to kind of, find their own way. And, in so far as they want larger sources of meaning, I could see how certain kinds of religion would be attractive to them.

CHAU: Actually, I think a research project on the religiosity of the one-child -- I mean, the only children in urban areas of China would be a real interesting endeavor.

I actually want to relate this issue to the pursuit of sociality in urban China. Because of the increasing atomization of society, and also because of the one-child policy, increasingly children grow up without, you know, extensive kinship network.

I think that might be one of the reasons they are attracted to a Christian congregational type of religion, because of the -- these congregations can provide sociality and a sense of a collective purpose. It's not purely spiritual, but also social.

WELD: I just have a brief question having to do with, sort of, the actual -- how these religious, especially Christian religious groups might help the growth of the economy. People reach out to family, of course, for capital in China, generally, if they're starting an enterprise. Do they reach out to their fellow congregation members? Has anybody looked at that? Do they reach out to other people in the temple?

WELLER: I don't know of any studies of this in the PRC. There have been some -- a bit in Taiwan where, as Dick said, Christianity isn't in great shape, and so that hasn't been too big of a player. But temples, yes. But other semi- religious forms like "sworn brotherhoods," like these kinds of relationships, or friend -- formalized relationships of friends that always involve a god alter. Those are important in raising money, as kinship networks are also important. And that -- and kinship has the religious aspect of it too.

I'd just say an anthropological footnote to the one-child policy, it does really have big implications for the lineage because you can't be patrilineal if you have only one child, because then the mother's side -- because it's one grandchild for both the mother's side and the father's side. And you can't have somebody who's not worshipped by any descendent, so that kid is going to have to worship the mother's side as well as the father's side.

WELD: Yes?

QUESTIONER: Walter Mead, Council on Foreign Relations.

In addition to this, sort of, embedded, disembedded dichotomy, it seems to me there's another one for religion, which is sort of the ideologized versus non-ideologized. That is, a religion that's elaborated into a kind of a total explanatory framework. And it seems a lot of 20th century Chinese history has been about the intrusion of an ideology into a -- what was once a rather non-ideological society. That may not be right, I'd be interested to know.

And how -- it seems to me somehow that shocks, and change and uncertainty tend to force people toward a more ideologized approach to life. How are the changes sweeping through China now -- the economic changes, changes in real life, and so on, how are they affecting the balance between ideological visions of religion and non- ideological?

MADSEN: My sense is that religion is -- and so whatever problems may come from this ideologized vision of life, they're not coming from religious life in China. Religious life is very practical, it's very down-to-earth. Even historically, it's never been too big on systematic doctrines and so forth. And I think that's still basically the case today in China. The ideology -- ideologies of nationalists and so forth are what the problem is -- where the problem is, I think. And even traditional -- in my book, I mention this -- traditionally, this is the good in Chinese. They're always kind of relativistic and kind of flexible and so forth, not this big conflict between good and evil. So in the 20th century, when they develop -- talked about good and evil under Communism, that set up a whole new vocabulary basically for it, right; this kind of thing. So I think religion in China probably is maybe one of the things that would mitigate against radical, fundamentalist kind of ideologies overall.

QUESTIONER:Thank you. I'm Janet Carroll from the U.S. Catholic China Bureau. My question was, back in our discussion a few minutes ago, the restoration of the three traditional festivals, with holidays around Qingming and the others, I was wondering how significant or not that is in terms of this attention to this religious, religiosity types of expression taking the time from, say, the Spring Festival or the other national holidays. Is that anything significant, and how does that play out in the -- you know, in the larger picture as well as at the local realities among people?

WELLER: The first time I traveled rather widely to China was 1984, so long before this. And I remember being on a bus or something at Qingming, and everybody was out sweeping the tombs. You know, it wasn't -- it had no regal blessing at all. It was certainly in this gray area, and yet there's enough social space, even then -- (background noise) -- everybody could go out and do. So does this new regulation change peoples' real behavior? Not so much. So I think it's significance-wise elsewhere. It's significance-wise in the government making a statement. And I think a lot of these regulations should not be read as attempts to regulate. I mean, we already had numerous current environmental, as much as religious, legislation or regulation that isn't implemented and there's no real attempt to do it. It's a statement of ideals.

It's a piece of propaganda in the Chinese sense of propaganda. And, you know, what are they saying here? They're saying, some of this activity is not so superstitious and terrible after all, and let's go ahead and give it our blessing, to use a religious word. (Scattered laughter.)

MADSEN: One place this comes into play, though, is Taiwan and Hong Kong. There -- there is a big issue about, for example, making Buddha's birthday a national holiday. And under the colonial regime in Hong Kong, Christmas was a holiday, not Buddha's birthday. IN Taiwan, Buddha's birthday wasn't either, right? It was -- Christmas was a day off. So it became an issue about, you know, whether we should have our own culture's, you know, icons made into holidays, and, in fact, that happened in both places.

CHAU: Actually, I think the revival of Qingming on the mainland of course would have an implication for a lot of families who have not buried their deceased properly in a traditional way, in a mountain, in a grave, so that you can go sweep the grave because, you know, most of these -- they have cremated the bodies and then there -- you know, very minimal space or physical reminders of the deceased.

So I think -- and I've seen, for example, online commemorative sites developed where -- this is a very new development in the past few years, where people will set up internet commemorative sites where people can post their thoughts and memories of the deceased and there are little, you know, symbolic flames going on on the screen, and I think there's a lot of potential in that kind of development in how new technology can help retain traditional sentiment and commemoration.

WELD: Also, it's a new territory for --

CHAU: -- services, yes.

WELD: Other questions? Yes, in the back.

QUESTIONER:This is a more a comment, but -- I mean, outside Beijing, now, Qingming is celebrated unbelievably, and where the graves are, I mean, I think it's grown by, I can't tell you. I go out there picnicking with old Beijingers and, I mean, it's probably five times larger in the last five years. And I read Bai. You know -- and I have a long history there. But what I encountered is something that keeps being -- and we're so -- and it's referred to a lot -- we're so used to religion being the container, as we define it, of morality, but there's a tremendous morality that's come forward from Daoism. I mean, I encountered young businessmen who gave money away to a rural community and said, "We have everything we want now." Incredible generosity and morality that I can't say I've encountered in my own country. And it comes from some deep traditions and also about leadership that's rooted in Daoism and Confucianism. And I don't know that Christianity has impacted in that same way. It's impacted in other ways, but, and I'd like to know what you've encountered, but --

WELD: Can I add to that?

QUESTIONER:Yes.

WELD: -- the question of whether religion is going to be helpful in dealing with the issue of corruption and the current growth of the economy.

QUESTIONER:Guanzhou will be.

WELLER: This is real corruption? Well, in a place like Taiwan, religion is the source of the corruption, right? The temples. I mean, the issue was not so much -- basically, it's a personal economic relationship, so they don't believe in accounting procedures like we want our receipts and so forth. So it's a matter of dealing with things that didn't stand scrutiny in a rationalized economy. And there's, you know, money laundering -- all this kind of stuff was, you know, it was famous in Taiwan at those local temples. And it's not so much -- and that's -- but then there's also calls for morality and decency and justice, you know, and not -- people not gouging and exploiting people either. So the relationship between religion and corruption is kind of multi-leveled. (Laughter.)

CHAU: In my case, at least, the Heilongdawang, even the though the Black Dragon King is known locally as a really efficacious rain god. But in recent years, well, especially traditionally as well, he's considered a very just god that will punish wrongdoers. And so you have, you know, in the temple a sculpture of a dragon holding the head of a wrongdoer and it's really scary. And there are a lot of, you know, folklore legends about how, you know, a particular person did something wrong and then he was punished by the dragon king. So local people would want to believe that local officials are actually scared of local deities because they have a lot to lose. And so they will tell you, actually it's the officials who bring a lot of money to the temple sometimes by proxy because they don't want to appear in public at the temples. So, yeah, so I don't know if in actuality it helps fight corruption.

WELLER: I mean, that's the crucial issue if the tenets of a religion actually prevented corruption, you know, would there be a corrupt Islamic country, would there be a corrupt Christian country? There obviously wouldn't. I think what we're arguing is religion creates a lot of social capital or -- the Templeton Foundation has been pushing the spiritual capital version of this lately. And, you know, fine -- and it does that. It does those things. That's important. But we shouldn't confuse that with saying that, you know, any social capital is good social capital. Corruption requires social capital. And so we need a broader contextual view to really understand the kind of simple cause and effect with religion here, I don't think it'll be adequate.

QUESTIONER:I was in China for a mission -- (inaudible) -- from the Catholic-China Bureau. I was in China for one month. I arrived two days before the earthquake and I came back Monday morning. I was surprised to see on television and then in the newspapers a lot of religious vocabulary being used either by the people who were interviewed, like victims of the earthquake rescuers and officials. And I don't know if you have the same kind of impression that religiosity or religion is pretty much alive in China, and this earthquake gave an opportunity for a lot of people to show it. And it kind of snowballing effect that you would get more of it after, the next day, after listening to what was said or what you read the day before. So from your vantage point, and as much as you were able to follow the situation in China during the month of May, if you -- the earthquake in itself is not also a kind of good indicator of the religiosity and the future in China that we are talking about now.

CHAU: I have just a short comment. I think, if anything, the earthquake and the outpouring of compassion for the victims actually erased the difference between people who are religious and who are -- and those who are usually not because, usually the, you know, the stereotypical understanding of religious people is they are really nice. People in your everyday life encounter with them and those who are not Christians or Buddhists are not, you know, particularly nice or try to be nice. But I think in this particular situation, it's really showing how those people, you know, in urban China who are not religious at all, you know, can express a very high level of love and compassion. I think, you know, that's --

WELLER: I would just answer that. I think just as significant is the fact that this kind of language was covered in the newspapers. Not that people behaved in this way, which doesn't surprise me that much, but that the government would report, for instance, that Tibetan monks read prayers for the dead. And this was seen as, at the very least, psychologically useful. It wasn't being condemned; it was a good -- it was a social contribution. That's a really different attitude for the Chinese press to take. So it seems like that I think maybe indicate a change. Now what -- you know, will this last -- any of these effects, the NGO effect that we have seen just as much? It's really hard to say, I don't know.

WELD: Yes.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. I'm Robby Barnett from Colombia.

Actually, I want to follow on from your comment because it helps with my question, which is I think under "hexie shehui", the harmonious society, there's been very important statements by Hu Jintao and a lot of senior officials in the press, especially about three years ago or so, saying that, repeatedly, religion can play an important contribution to the creation of our harmonious society. So that's something that's coming from the top. I haven't seen that so much the last year or so, but certainly '06, '07. A lot of statements like that including specifically having Buddist lamas in certain places, Hong Kong, Xinjgain (sp), and so on, making those statements, specifically, and the world Buddhist forum. So there's certainly something pretty major that you're pointing to there that's going on for some time now.

The question I have, though, is sort of the opposite of that. I wonder whether we are internalizing an official distinction, either when we talk about popular religion between religion and superstition because presumably there still is an area of social activity, which the state does consider superstition, and which it bans. Now, of course, that area moves all the time, and obviously, it's not now spirit mediums in many cases.

But in the law, in criminal procedure, in the criminal code, you still have capital punishment for feudal superstition; seems to be defined as superstition related to the use of superstition to gain sexual relations with women and to gain money; at least that was how it was done in the '80's. And there were people who were sentenced to death. I remember cases in '89 where one didn't know much detail, you know, the little groups or communities where they were accused of doing that.

I wondered if you could comment on the freedoms, the regulatory state, what is still being banned in that way. What is still being actively defined as superstition or feudal superstition or as illegal activity and acted upon? Or has that just stopped?

MADSEN: My reading of it is that the regulations are -- first of all, they are not laws, they're regulations, and the category system is very flexible. So, if they think something is feudal superstition, or for that matter an evil cult, then you're in big trouble. But there's no real fixed definition, so you can't go and get a lawyer and say, you know, "This is protected under the constitution because this is religion and this meets the definition." It's very flexible. So if they think something is causing very social unrest or is problematic, they'll just define it as either feudal superstition or, you know, an evil cult, and then they can bring the full weight of the state to bear. But it's not a fixed objective criteria that you can use to defend an inalienable right to practice it.

WELLER: Yeah, I completely agree with that. I think much of Chinese law, especially relating to these kinds of rights issues is purposely ambiguous, and that's the case here as well. So, you know, at the moment, that's been working in favor of religion. It leaves a huge grey area, and the government is mostly leaving that alone. So something like spirit mediums -- if you ask them, they'll tell you it's feudal superstition, I'm pretty sure. But it's don't ask, don't tell. You know, they'll let it go.

But, you know, should policy change? They don't need to change any regulations in order to start repressing all of this stuff again. And I think that's what they want. It's not too different from some other authoritarian strategies; Singapore law has aspects that are just like that.

WELD: I'll take one more question, and it's because -- thank you.

QUESTIONER: Hi, I'm Rebecca Nedostup from Boston College and an earlier session. I was wondering if you could just say a few words about what you think the future is, if any, of the official religious associations, because it's very clear that, from what you've been saying, that they don't necessarily play much of a role in the flourishing of local religion, and that's certainly not where the impetus is coming from. But I'm wondering what role they might be playing in two areas -- sort of the culturalization of religion, if that's going to be what the regulatory framework is going to be in the future, and in some international context. I'm thinking particularly about how the Daoist association has been important in establishing a lot of academic contacts with Taoists in Hong Kong, and especially sort of academic studies and they sort of tend to sit, to some extent, in the cultural framework, but also in the ritual framework as well.

So is there any future movement in that state framework of official associations, or are they going to be increasingly less relevant?

CHAU: I think there will be increasing efforts to elevate the status of human-based superstitious activities of -- (inaudible) -- religions especially Daoism. So as we already know, the majority of Daoist priests have never belonged to the Chinese Daoist Association because they are householder religious service ritualists, and they are dispersed widely in the countryside. They are hired for their ritual services and they will never even -- so they are beyond the control and registration and all that of the Daoist Association. But I think they will be continued to be ignored, basically, by the Daoist association whether or not -- but they -- at the same time, they fit the model of householder businesses, because they are actually, you know, making money by providing a service, so that's sort of very difficult for the Chinese state to recognize it, because once you recognize it, you recognize the superstitious content of their service. And if you don't recognize them, they are also an important aspect of the local economy. So it's a very strange situation.

MADSEN: These patriotic associations are only for the five recognized religions, and so feudal superstition doesn't -- there's no association for futile superstition. (Laughter.) Or not one for evil cults, either. (Laughter). It's only for these groups. And in some -- and the Daoists, I don't know -- I know one issue is, like the Catholic one I know about, you know, more. And I think that group at least is becoming irrelevant in various ways -- say, a functional sociologist would say it's not useful anymore. But there's a political aspect. You have the officials, the people who have made their careers at, you know, running this association are going to hang on to their jobs and to that association until they die. And so there's kind of a rigidity to this thing that's based on the dynamics of Chinese politics and generational politics, too.

WELLER: And I think that's the key issue. So if you change the political landscape, all those associations disappear because they have no non-political function, the way the Buddhist association of the Republic of China, the Taiwanese corporatist body for Buddhists essentially became irrelevant immediately after they democratized, and instead we got these -- (inaudible) -- and these other non-official organizations just skyrocketed at exactly the same moment. China could do that voluntarily. It could do that because of a political transformation, like what happened in Taiwan, or it could not do that, in which case I think we'll see this continued kind of tension that we see in the two Christian groups and the Buddhist group. At least the Daoist one and the Islamic one I think are a bit different.

WELD: Well, thank you very much. I think we've actually gone to the end of the time we have. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

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This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD:  (Gavel sounds.)  Good morning.  Stacy, is this on?  Okay, good morning, everyone.  That's what the headmaster of my old school used to do when he wanted us to all be quiet, "Good morning!" he would say, with that headmasterly tone.  I'd like to welcome you all to the Council on Foreign Relations Symposium on Religion and the Future of China.  I'll make a couple of introductory remarks and then turn it over to Terri Lautz, who will lead our first panel.

A symposium is a relatively new form of meeting that we have at the Council.  It involves essentially a half-day experience of panel speakers and food.  So, we're - we're glad you're all able to come.  This particular symposium series on topics that generally try to bring together religion and foreign policy has been very generously funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

We thought it was appropriate for me to thank and acknowledge the Luce Foundation, because Terri is with the Luce Foundation and we thought he probably wouldn't get up there and thank himself for his vision and splendor.  But, we do, Terri, thank you very much, and to the board.

This particular effort by the Council to study religion and foreign policy is one of our key intellectual initiatives.  We believe, at the Council, that the worlds of religion and foreign policy need to come together more than they have so far.  That, in a lot of ways - sometimes not necessarily the obvious ways, religion is shaping the international system.  It often shapes the presuppositions that actors bring to the table.  It often shapes the political context in which societies, including our own society, take important decisions.

We are trying to investigate this complex world.  Our experience is that many of the people who make decisions in foreign policy, and think about foreign policy, are not particularly conscious about the degree to which religion is quietly, and sometimes invisibly, shaping the context in which they act.  And, at the same time, we find that people who are knowledgeable about religion sometimes lack a sophisticated grasp of how the foreign policy world works, and the system works.

We think that if these two groups of experts can become more cognizant of each other's worlds and thoughts, we'll have - the world of religion will be able to make a more positive and a more informed contribution to what's going on in foreign policy and people in foreign policy will be better equipped to do their work.  So these symposia are part of a broader effort that we are undertaking to try to bring these worlds together.

We are also trying to do work that brings together, and shows how these two forces can work together.  If you look at the current issue of Foreign Affairs, I've written an article in that on "Why Americans Support Israel," which looks at some of the ways in which even secular Americans, who don't think religion has anything to do with the way they approach the world, are actually acting out of beliefs, motives, methods of interpreting history that have deep roots in the world of American religion.

We hope that over the future years we'll be producing more work of this nature and better work.  But, thank you all for coming.  I hope you enjoy this.  And as Terri will tell you, this is not only an on-the-record session, it's being webcast, so watch out!  (Laughter.)  Thank you.

TERRILL E. LAUTZ:  Thank you, Walter.  And it's a privilege to be moderating this session.  It's been a personal joy to work with you, Walter, and with Tim Shaw on this whole series.  And, on behalf of the Luce Foundation, it's been a privilege for Michael Gilligan, the president, and our board, including Tom Pulling and Claire Gaudiani who are here this morning, to be working with the Council on this initiative.  We believe that it's very important.

I need to alert you, if you haven't already done so, to the need to turn off your electronic devices.  They should not even be on "buzz," or "beep," or whatever.  They have to be turned off completely because of the electronics.  As Walter already mentioned, this session is on the record and it is being webcast live.  There are cameras around us, and we welcome our web audience this morning, and we may even have some questions from them.

I'd like to introduce our three panel members this morning.  Brian Grim, who is senior fellow - senior research fellow in Religion and World Affairs at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C.; spent a number of years from - dating from early 1980s, living and working in China, and has had experience in a number of other countries in Asia and other parts of the world.

Professor Fenggang Yang, who is Department of Sociology at Purdue University in Indiana and has recently established a new Center for Religion and Chinese Foreign Policy at Purdue.

And Professor Mayfair Yang, who has been for some years, professor of Religious Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara, and has recently taken up a new position as director of Asian Studies at the University of Sydney in Australia, where she spent a few years as a child - in her youth.

We'd like to start out by trying to outline, just briefly, some historical and contemporary context for this vast subject of religion in China, and talk about the importance of religion in China, particularly today, and then direct some of our attention to the question of policy consequences for religion, both on the domestic side in China and in terms of foreign policy.  I'm sure that in the question and answer session, you will - you will want to pursue these issues as well.

I think it's always a good idea to start with history.  And I think there's a, kind of a general perception - and a lot of this comes initially, at least, from the Jesuits in the 16th Century, 17th Century, who went to China and thought that they had discovered a society that was based on rational secular values, where religion - at least in terms of leadership in state, wasn't that relevant.  And they came back to France, and other parts of Europe, and got very excited about this, and some of our enlightened thinkers were the beneficiaries.

But, Mayfair, if we could ask you, what is - you know, all traditional, or pre-modern societies - or almost all, that I'm aware of at least, you find that political authority and religious authority go hand-in-hand.  What was the situation in China?  What was the reality?

MAYFAIR YANG:  Well, let me just start with talking a little bit about the religious configuration in late imperial China, at about the time when, you know, the Jesuits went to China in the 16th, 17th centuries.  You know, the state at that time was itself a quasi-religious entity.  It oversaw a very complex system of sacrifices.  It had a monopoly on the access to heaven; Tian, who - which was the supreme diety, only the emperor had the right to sacrifice to him.  And ritual and sacrifice were - what defined the state, the centralized state.

And the Ministry of Rites was one of the important six imperial ministries of the central imperial government.  So, all the way down the levels, from the -- the state to provincial authorities, and county-level officials - all these officials of this vast imperial bureaucracy, one of their important duties was to sacrifice to their equivalent deities.  So this was a very ritualized state.

And Confucius himself - and Confucian teachings were what guided the imperial state.  Confucius himself was extremely interested into controlling the populations through ritual practice, rather than through force.  This was the original Confucius.  Of course, later on in the Han Dynasty the states really instituted a system of universal laws and punishments.  So, the gentle way of Confucius, and the harsh ways of a legalistic, you know, guided the running of the empire.

Now, Buddhism and Daoism each had their separate areas, but they never, in imperial China, had any kind of centralized organization.  So, the history of Buddhism and Daoism were less strong as a religious institution, compared with the history of the Christian church.  They had localized lineages of masters.

Then, also at the grassroots level, you had a popular religion.  These were deity cults, territorial deities, tutelary deities who protected the local community who worshipped them.  And they were also icons for local community identity - villages and towns.  You also had ghosts, shamans, spirit mediums and ancestor worship.  And you also sectarian religious movements that would spread like wildfire in times of crisis.  These were harshly persecuted by the state if the state deemed them to be dangerous to its own legitimacy.

So a lot changed in since the Opium War of the 1840s, when the Western imperialism came in.  And what Chinese educated elite, who were to lead the nationalist - various nationalist movements that sought to counter the Western incursion, what they absorbed were three crucial attitudes, I think, from Western teachings that were extremely influential in determining the course of religions in the 20th century of China.

So, I think it's very important, when we deal with and think about the religious situation in China today, not to just go off on this freedom-of-religion issue, but to think historically about how the Chinese government came to be the way it is.  What the Chinese educated elite absorbed from the West was:

One, in the 19th century, a lot of Protestant missionaries went to China, and they had a more narrow-minded attitude towards other religions than the Jesuits of earlier times.  They were very judgmental and very convinced of their rightness.  They had a contempt for what they called "idolatry" - these Chinese are superstitious; they ketou all the time; they're ignorant and backward.  So, there was a lot of feeling of Western superiority by Westerners in the 19th century.

The other thing that Chinese - so, Chinese intellectuals of the May Fourth generation, 1920s, absorbed this.  The other thing that they absorbed was the scientism coming from the West that thought that science would answer everything - this notion of absolute truth.  And, of course, the Chinese educated elite at that time was in a very nationalistic mode of wanting to become independent from the West and throw off that kind of yoke of Western colonialism, and they believed that only science and technology would save the nation.

The other - the third thing that they absorbed was this unilinear evolutionism.  This, you know, Herbert Spencer, Henry Lewis Morgan, all these important 19th century - and Karl Marx, of course, thinking in this evolutionary mode of human progress, very optimistic, and stages of development that all societies must follow, and the West had gone the furthest through all these previous stages.

So this is -- sets the scene.  So, I think that the Chinese Communist Party and its rather past destructive policies towards religious life in China is just at that endpoint of a development that has taken almost a century.  And this is not the first one to think this way; its path was laid by previous intellectual, educated elite attitudes.  So --

LAUTZ:  Mayfair, I - is it fair to say then that this pattern of state regulation of religion in China is really nothing new at all?

MAYFAIR YANG:  Well, it's nothing new since the 19th century, of this radical state secularization and state persecution of religion.  The Guo Ming Dang did it, but not as systematically.  But also before the Guo Ming Dang, the intellectual elite went out on raids of the countryside smashing false idols and so on in order to bring the ignorant masses to progress and modernization.

LAUTZ:  Well, thank you for setting the scene.  And let's come back to history.

But Brian, if we could ask you to say something about how religious China is today.  Again, there's this perception, I think, that modern China, Communist China is atheistic, that religion is, indeed, very tightly controlled.  You've done a lot of work on -- recent surveys on the subject of religion in China.  What have you found?

BRIAN GRIM:  Right.  Well, if I can start with some ancient history - 1982 (Scattered laughter.)  That's a year when the Westerners started being able to back into China.  And in that year, that's the first year I went to China and lived and worked there.  When I went, people assumed religion had died.  You know, thinking now -- it's surprising, but people didn't know whether or not religion survived at that time.

And that year when I went I found churches that were open.  I found churches that were operating that weren't open.  I found - interestingly, I walked on the streets, as in Fuchen (ph) -- the city of Quincho (ph) -- walk down the streets you would see Buddhist -- various Buddhist idols for sale.

We were on a funeral route where Buddhist funerals went past our house every day - this was 1982.  And one day, I was walking down the street and I saw some women with veils on, and a very interesting hat.  This is the city that Marco Polo left from to go back to Italy.  And I said, well, who are they - you know, because there's so many different groups in China.  And they - oh, they're Muslims.

And, you know, in 1982, just seeing this religious diversity was a shock.  I came back and shared this with some various groups and people said, "Shhh, don't tell people, that'll get them - get them in trouble."  Well, the surprise - you know, the cat's out of the bag.  Religion is a big thing in China.

Looking at surveys, one of the most - I have some amazing findings and some surprising findings.  Amazingly, in our surveys, we found that three out of 10 people in China consider religion to be "important" to "very important" in their lives, compared with only 11 percent of those surveyed who said religion is not important at all -- amazing, for a Communist country.

In the same survey, we found that six out of 10 people hold some belief that is, in one way or another, tied to some of the folk traditions that were just discussed.  And this is a country where, when I - back in '82 I would teach some songs -- I was teaching English -- taught "Row, row, row your boats," and got it going in a round, and I had large classrooms.  And I was censured for that.

That was an off-limits song - (sings) "merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream."  Well, (laughs) you know, this - life is not a dream, you know, life is evolving.  This is reality."  And, you know, just to have -- the thought that they tried to stamp out even that level of sort of superstitious belief, and it's flourishing in China today.

Another amazing thing about religion in China today is the diversity of religion.  China is one of the most diverse religious countries in the world, in terms of having representation of major -- significant representation of major world religions - Buddhism, of course, but then diversity within Buddhism.  You have Tibetan Buddhism and all kinds of folk manifestations of Buddhism, and then related to that Daoism.

You have significant Christian populations, and great diversity within Christianity.  And you have Islam, which may number more than 20 million people, which is larger than the number of Muslims that live in the European Union combined.  So these - you know, it's just a phenomenally rich religious economy in China.

LAUTZ:  And what do you think explains this remarkable resurgence and the dynamism which we do see today in so many parts of China?

GRIM:  Well, you know, for -- I think many people point to the fact that, you know, Communism itself provided an ideology, it provided - it was very religious in nature, you'd go to your Wednesday afternoon - what do they call it -- religious education - not religious -- party education -- political education sessions.  And this was like a Bible study.  You know, we would - I went to some of them, you would read, you know, writings from Chairman Mao, you would - you know, this filled - this is the sense of purpose.  And I think that in that, in that collapse of that ideology, religion naturally would fill that vacuum.

LAUTZ:  Yeah.  Thank you.

Fenggang, what is your sense of the most important themes or trends?  And how do you approach this question of explaining both the dynamism and the diversity today?  I know you've spent a lot of time on the ground in China looking at these issues.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah.  Actually I think - talking about religion in China, in the People's Republic of -- period - this period.  And one thing needs to be remembered that the Chinese constitution has been allowing the freedom of religious beliefs, even though there may be difficult periods.  But, overall, the constitution has that written.  Only that during the Cultural Revolution, the constitution was shelved.  It's not --

LAUTZ:  Is -- there are five official religions?

FENGGANG YANG:  Right.  Well, that's - yeah, the five official religions have been allowed to exist most of the time, except during the Cultural Revolution period.

LAUTZ:  Could you name them?

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah.  Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism.

LAUTZ:  And why only five?

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah, that's - if we go back to the history in the 1950s, they find that - the new government find that these religions, world religions, they have world connections.  And it's basically - even though the ideology is atheist, what you find it's not possible to eliminate.  So the secular - no, the traditional cults were suppressed, like Yi Guan Dao and other traditional sects, but these world religions all have international connections.  So - well, not Daoism, but the other four:  Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism and Islam.  And also -

LAUTZ:  You mentioned -- Confucianism didn't make the cut.

FENGGANG YANG:  Right.  (Laughs.)  Yeah, because since the May Fourth movement in 1999, Confucianism has been really on the defense, and the secularism really became dominant.  Confucianism was considered a backward ideology type.  But the interesting thing is - as you mentioned, is actually there has been a revival of Confucianism today.

It's a strong revival.  I think many people haven't paid attention to this.  This revival of Confucianism comes from scholars who study Confucianism, comes from the grassroots people.  There are people movements to re-learn Confucian scriptures, let children to memorize those Confucian scriptures, because facing these moral problems in China today, they find that Confucianism perhaps could help

But there are also support coming from the top leadership.  There is a revival of Confucius' birthday celebration.  And also this year, there are so many so-called public ceremonies called (quonchi ?) of the ancient legendary emperors, like the Yellow Emperor, and other ancient emperors.  And this is a package of revival of Confucianism.

And some people making the argument that Confucianism should be recognized as the sixth religion in China, in addition to the five.  Actually, some even advocate to make Confucianism a state religion - or "the" state religion.

LAUTZ:  And it's very interesting that many countries of the world historically, traditionally had one religion as the official state religion.  But, as you were saying, Mayfair, you see this diversity in China.

MAYFAIR YANG:  Yeah, well the state really exuded Confucianism, and the state used that as a means of keeping a order - social order in the whole imperial realm.  But the imperial state was not that penetrating, down deep into society, it basically had a kind of hands-off policy, unless there was some kidney religious peasant rebellion.  Then it would strike hard in the past.

It's really in the 20th century that the state had adopted this attitude from intellectuals of, kind of, hostility towards religions of all different forms.  But now, it's very encouraging, I think, because the latest development is that in 2005, the State Council's Bureau of Religious Affairs passed a big watershed kind of law, or regulation.  It's called Regulations on Religious Affairs.  And this allows -- some of the things that it allows now:  religious schools, religious publications, going abroad for religious study, large-scale religious activities outside of religious sites.  Before, you could only conduct activities in the temple or church or mosque.

Religious organizations can keep the proceeds of their various sort of money-making activities for religious expenditures.  They can accept donations both domestic as well as foreign.  And they are entitled to tax exemptions.  And it also forbids, explicitly, other parties from encroaching on religious property or confiscating religious property - although, of course, that's not clearly stated whether the state is exempt from that regulation. (Laughs.)

But, nevertheless, the situation has greatly improved.  I think that the recent earthquake in Sichuan Province, where it was so much devastation, and I think all religions are tied into the crucial issue that all of us face in our lives, and that is death.  And I think that can only - that stupendous earthquake event can only serve to enhance people's value of religious pursuits because what they saw -- I think, in some of the Chinese media you can see discussions of why is it that so much charitable activity came from Taiwan and Hong Kong?

And they - because, for example, like Citi -- Merrick Foundation in Taiwan, which is a very large international, transnational Buddhist organization, they were one of the first to arrive.  They are very well organized and highly - well-financed by the middle class in Taiwan, to come.  And they may have made a big impact.  And there is other Taiwanese and Hong Kong and overseas Chinese religiously-inspired charitable organizations.

So the state also -- as you know, the government has moved back a great deal from social welfare obligations that it had in the Maoist socialist period.  And it is looking for a more voluntary social welfare organization.  So, it feeds into states' ideas about, you know, letting society handle these things.

LAUTZ:  But there nonetheless seems to be this ambivalence, thinking of religion both as a source of potential support for social welfare, indeed, social stability, "harmonious society," as President Hu Jintao puts it, but also as a, as a potential threat.

And, Brian, I guess I'm wondering how you compare the situation in China today, in terms of public space, with other countries around the world - and particularly Communist states?

GRIM:  Yeah.  Well the interesting - I've done a lot of work comparing the level of government restrictions on religion across the countries of the world, and something people don't frequently look at is the levels of social restrictions on religious choice within a society.

So if you think of - you know, give one extreme example, Iran, where there's a society that is very devoted to a certain perspective on Islam, and they support, you know, in general, support restrictions.  So Bahais are, more or less, outlawed.  So in that society there's not a lot of freedom even in the society, regardless of the government.

In China, the situation is very different.  In my experience and what I've observed, that there's not so much tension between religions.  There tends to be openness within society to let people make choices to practice what they want - that's their business -- and not an overarching dominant religious philosophy in China among the society.

Now, that sets up an interesting situation where you have government regulations in China being stricter than society itself is comfortable with.  So there's -- where I think one way to look at that is that there's some room for movement on the government's side.  And I think, you know, some people take the optimistic view and think, well, maybe it's going to ease up as China feels religion can contribute, but, maybe one of the complicating factors is the Chinese mentality of regulating religion.

LAUTZ:  And regulating a lot of things.

GRIM:  Regulating a lot of things. But they've learned that they can let the economy, you know, sort of let the reins out a bit.  The question is, whether or not they're going to say, okay, we can let the reins out a bit on religion as well.

LAUTZ:  Fenggang, what do you - what do you think?  I mean, what are the implications of religion for human rights, religious freedom, democracy?  This is the hot-button issue in your - or one of the hot-button issues in U.S.-China relations.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yes, it is a hot-button issue.  But actually I was thinking about what both Dr. Yang and Brian just said.  I think -- got to distinguish these regulations and the social space.  I think there is enlargement of social space for the practice of religion.  But in terms of regulations, or start of those special sets of religious regulations, I do not see there is any relaxing.  I think, actually, it's tightening up.  Only that those tightening up religious regulations are not enforceable, because the whole economy has changed - not as a market economy, but the whole idea of religious regulations is based on the central planning economy model.  So they want to control and only allow five religions, only allow those registered through those patriotic associations of religions.

And that's just a - those regulations cannot be enforced.  So that we see all kinds of religions are growing so fast.  So I think we need to make that distinction -

LAUTZ:  Right.

FENGGANG YANG:  -- in terms of this -- the international implications, but actually I think I will leave that to Brian or others to talk about that.

But domestically, I see that there's - the people now who advocate for constitutionalism, advocate for electoral democracy, tend to be somewhat related to Western secular liberalism, plus Christianity.  There has been a rise of Christian lawyers in the last few years.

They have been making - really making some progress, challenging the malpractice of local government authorities in treating those marginal groups of people.  They try to see the contradictions between the constitution and some specific regulations.  So, I think if there's an increase - continuous increase of Christians, there is that tendency, a growing sense of constitutionalism, electoral democracy and individual freedom.

But then the government -- I see that they tend to favor traditional religions - Confucianism, Buddhism and now also Daoism.  I see this as a package of traditionalist religions that the government seems to be nourishing, helping.  So if you see there is religious regulations - if you ask a Buddhist monk, he may totally disagree because he sees there's no restriction, he can do anything he wants.  But that's a Buddhist monk.  The same thing may not apply to a Catholic priest.  So there are differences.

So there's a traditionalist package of - there's Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoist revivals.  I think that also the Confucian advocates even say that democracy is not something we desire because it's not useful in Chinese society.  So they advocate for some benign autocracy, benign authoritarianism.  That seems to, you know, best.

So there's alternative ideological ideals, or political ideals.  I think the revival - if that continues, the revival of Confucianism plus Buddhism and Daoism, that would pull China in one direction, and the continuous increase of Catholics, Protestants and secular liberalism, or classic liberalism, would pull China to another direction.

And also, how does the Communist Party play?  Because the Party in form is for democracy, but at the same time the reality of - you know, it's not the Western understanding of electoral democracy yet, so does the party shift to the traditionalists?  Or does that shift to the more constitutionalist direction?  It's really uncertain at this time.  Really, all forces are fighting out.

LAUTZ:  And on this issue of enforcement, it sounds very similar to the problem of enforcing environmental regulations, environmental laws in China, where the state regulations are actually comprehensive and very strong, but the implementation at the local level is the problem.

GRIM:  Yeah.  I -

LAUTZ:  At this point - Brian, I'm sorry, do you want to say something?

GRIM:  I was just going to make one comment on U.S. perspectives on China and the foreign policy relations.  You know, there's a number of connections that policymakers have, or constituencies that they feel loyal to.  For example, Nancy Pelosi's, you know, advocacy on behalf of - behalf of the Dalai Lama - these, sort of, connections that people have, on a religious level even, influence foreign policy.

Another is, there's a - in the United States, you know, we have mainline churches and we have evangelical churches.  Mainline churches tend to side with the Three-Self churches in China.  And that's where the Chinese government is trying to fit all the Protestant Christians, or all the Catholic Christians in that organization.  And that would be sort of like trying to get the Southern Baptists and the Episcopals to come together and say we're - we're all one.  You know, that's -- that's the problem.

So when you have some folks looking at China, they're saying, well, China does have freedom - you know, look at the Amity Foundation, look at what the Three-Self is doing, they're printing Bibles.  But then you have other folks saying, well, look at - look at these others that are in churches that don't affiliate and being persecuted.  So --

LAUTZ:  These are the so-called "house churches" or --

GRIM:  House churches --

LAUTZ:  -- underground churches?

GRIM:  Right, or - yes, house churches.  And many independent churches they -- you know, they proliferate.

So, you know, as the U.S. community, including the foreign policy community, looks at China, you may see - people may see very different things.  And, for example, Xinjiang and Tibet are the two hot-spots - Xinjiang, with the large Muslim population; Tibet, with the Tibetan Buddhist population.  And, you know, there's a lot of sympathy - Tibet is right below, south of Xinjiang.  Well, you don't hear too much about Xinjiang because they don't have a Dalai Lama.  So, you know, these personalities, and connections that people have, influence how we're viewing what's going on in China.  So I think that's part of the mix.

MAYFAIR YANG:  On the question of house churches, I think that attitudes in China may be starting to shift, because recently there was a important interview in this e-journal - academic, kind of, e-journal called (Tyen Yi ?), an interview by a very influential person, -- (inaudible) - who's with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Rural Institute.

And he interviewed two leaders of house churches in Anhui Province and in Qindiao.  And the fact that it wasn't closed down, and the fact that these house church representatives were allowed to speak out on the e-journal, I think is very significant because right now the estimate is 100 million Christians in China, 70 percent of which are house church members.  And I think for the state not to recognize this huge population would be a mistake.  And there might be some new thinking afoot.  We don't know how it will play out.

But I think that, for the West, you know, when it deals with China I think it's good not to have such a harsh, judgmental attitude because one must understand the history that China really came to have a very hostile attitude to religion because it learned it at the hands of the West, of the 19th century West - it's a little out of date.  But the West was very - there wasn't very much notion of freedom of religion in the 19th century because the West, you know - Christianity was the name of the game in the 19th century, was the West that China encountered.

And the intellectuals thought that this was the secret recipe to modernization and success.  So one has to keep this history in mind, that it's ironic that China today - now changing, of course, but the Communist Party is the recipient of this harsh attitude that the - judgmental attitude that the West itself had before.

LAUTZ:  Back to the future.  (Laughter.)

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah, I want to echo this.  Actually in China now many people are in the academia and also in the government trying to change, make changes, make it possible to opening up.  Only that I see there is a paradigm that the current regulation is based on that's so outdated.  Actually, I could even say it's really based on the 1950s ideology, putting religion under the control of ideology.  And the currently policy like it's still not allowed denominations exist within any religion; that was the 1958 policy, when all the religions are united -- Protestant, Baptist and Episcopals have to meet in one congregation, and now still not allowed.  And so that's the 1958 policy, and that still continues.

That's the mentality or the paradigm.  But the other people -- the scholars and also government officials who have learned about the new things or the new thinking -- they try to change this.  But it's just so hard to change it because the people tend to stay with the current course.  They even do not dare to say there are more than 100 million religious believers because that was a number given in the 1950s by Premier Zhou Enlai.  And no one dared to say there are more than 100 million believers, but even though in the reality or under the table or behind the scenes they say, "Oh yeah, there are many more."

So this is a paradigm.  There is a mentality.  That's hard to change.

LAUTZ:  Paradigm and paradox.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah.

LAUTZ:  At this point, I'd like to open up for -- and invite our members and guests to join in this conversation and make brief comments or questions.  And if you could wait for the microphone that will be coming around and speak into the mike directly, and if you could stand and let us know who you are and what your affiliation is before you ask the question.

QUESTIONER:  Good morning.  Chymon Sargent (ph) from the John Templeton Foundation.

I want to ask a question for all the panelists, but especially Fenggang, about -- Fenggang, you were talking a little bit about there's a possible zero-sum relation, almost, as I took it, between kind of the government favoritism of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism versus kind of the other approved religions.  And I'm just wondering -- this is dangerous now; I start thinking in my American categories about how we think about civil religion here, sort of non-established, kind of culturally persuasive, it has influence of -- historically had a lot associations with Protestantism, but there's a lot of kind of patriotic and national elements to it that I think has benefited other religious traditions in this country.

Is there a possibility that as the Chinese leadership embraces kind of Confucianism more as kind of a -- I don't know the right category is kind of a national religion, a cultural system -- that it could also be of benefit to other religious traditions?

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah, certainly.  I don't see this as, you know, two contradicting categories.  I do see, actually, the things being played out.

Yeah, there are people who desire to make Confucianism a state religion, but the counter-forces are strong enough to make it difficult to achieve that.  So overall I think it's going to be some kind of combination.

Actually, I think -- Confucianism is not really -- scholarly speaking, it is not like the other religions.  Yeah, it's a "cultural religion," quote/unquote, that could be inclusive, could accommodate the other religions like what it used to do to Buddhism and Taoism.  It allowed the others; only to provide a cultural identity for the Chinese.

So, yeah, eventually it's really -- you know, in China now there are people talking about three intellectual forces:  the new left, the new right and the new Confucians.  (Laughter.)  And the three forces, I see them playing out -- it's not going to be one overwhelmingly dominant over the others, but some balances of evolvement.

MAYFAIR YANG:  I had thought about Dr. Yang's -- Fenggang Yang's discussion about how Christianity is more tied up with notions of democracy, and the traditional Chinese religions are more with a kind of benign authoritarianism.  And I guess I want to complicate the picture a bit more because there is a lot of democratic spirit, especially in a religion like Taoism, whose tradition started as a form of popular kind of rebellion against the centralized state in its early history.

And Taoism, in terms of its organization, is very much rooted in grassroots, local communities.  And in the philosophy of Taoism, one would say, there are a lot escapist elements.  There is a lot anarchistic elements in Taoism.  And Buddhism tries to diminish the importance we place on human desires in this temporal world.

And so all those things I think would contribute to a more democratic society.  But we mustn't impose a Western definition of democracy because if you adhere too strictly to a Western notion of democracy, you're going to get into a lot of trouble because these other societies of the world, they don't -- they're not economically in the same place as the West because -- so, for example, if you introduce a multiparty system into Africa, as we've seen in Africa and what's going on now, this kind of multiparty, it creates civil war.  In Africa at certain moments it may not be a good idea to introduce this kind of agonistic struggle/opposition kind of thing because these societies were carved out by the imperial nations and they have multiethnic divisions.  And it could be quite harmful to impose a strict.

But what I see about popular Chinese religions -- Taoism and deity cultists -- is that they really contribute to a bit-by-bit development of local civil society.  They are responsible for maintaining -- they are conducive to maintaining local economy from the centralized state because they promote self-organization and self-initiation of social activities for community improvement; they promote social welfare and charity.  And also they are a means for strengthening local identity because they have their tutelary deities who protect the local area and represent local society.

So all these things I think bring local communities together.  And to establish a truly democratic society you mustn't start at the top with a, you know, artificial political apparatus introduced from another -- a foreign land.  It just won't hold.  You have to build it up gradually from the ground up at its very social fabric and social foundations through promoting civil society first.

I just want to plug my new book for anyone who's interested -- (laughter) -- because several of the people at this symposium are contributors.  It's an edited book called "Chinese Religiosities:  Afflictions of Modernity and State Formation."  Coming later this year; University of California Press.

LAUTZ:  Great.  Thank you for complicating the picture.  (Laughter.)

Did you want to add some more, or?

QUESTIONER:  Yeah, just one comment.

I wonder how much mainland China might learn from the example of Taiwan in this issue, and that, you know, Taiwan has increasingly become more religiously free and yet religion hasn't complicated Taiwan's picture.  So you know, as these discussions are happening today go forth, I wonder what impact Taiwan might have on the mainland.

LAUTZ:  Right.  And Mayfair Yang earlier mentioned that Dick Madsen -- Richard Madsen, who is speaking on a panel later today has recently author a book on the Tzu Chi called "Democracy's Dharma" and he'll be able to speak to this issue in particular.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah.  I was going to point out Professor Madsen's new book is really looking at that religious organization -- traditional religious organizations -- Tzu Chi, Fo Guang Shan and Fa Gu Shan (ph) -- could contribute to this rising democracy.

But whether that can be applied to mainland China now, that's a question.  It may not be directly can burrow into China because over the 50 years of this -- the system that the religious organizations in mainland China is very different from that in Taiwan, even if the same.  The Catholic Church in mainland and in Taiwan, the Buddhist groups in mainland and in Taiwan, they are different.  And those groups need to modernize themselves first in order to play some positive roles in the rising -- or in the emerging democracy.

The Buddhist groups in mainland China, those that I studied, I got familiar with, how civil as a civil society organization, that's a question.

LAUTZ:  And another example along these lines is Li Quan Yu's efforts to implement Confucianism as the bedrock for a benign authoritarian state, and by the way this might or might not apply to the mainland of China.

But let's get another question on -- yes, back here please.

QUESTIONER:  Tim Ferguson with Forbes Magazine.

Could one of you place the state repression of Falun Gong in this context?

LAUTZ:  Mayfair?

MAYFAIR YANG:  Yeah, I think that the state is a, you know, kind of long line of continuity with the imperial state on this because Falun Gong is kind of -- I think the state kind of overreacted because, you know, the late imperial state always had trouble dealing with sectarian religious movements.

So this is kind of -- it brought back this category of -- the Chinese Communist Party brought back this imperial Chinese category of hejiao (ph), "evil cult" -- it's translated "evil cult" today, but it could also be translated "heterodox cult," which means "unacceptable cult."  Which -- so -- (laughs) --

LAUTZ:  This is a distinction between religion and superstition?  Is that right?

MAYFAIR YANG:  It's a distinction between acceptable orthodox religion and heterodox cult.  And it was kind of interesting to see a, you know, late 20th century secular state bring back this category from the imperial government of before.

GRIM:  And one other thing with Falun Gong was that it was -- came, you know, as a complete shock and surprise.  And many of these groups from the past were secretive societies, had special codes, and so it may have triggered that reaction that, you know, here's another one of these, we don't know what they're doing, where they've come from.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah, I want to put this in a bigger perspective.

In the 1980s and 1990s in China, there were hundreds of chigong groups.  Falun Gong was one of them and may not be the largest one.  There were --

LAUTZ:  How would you define chigong?

FENGGANG YANG:  Oh, chigong, well, it could be simply physical exercise, slow-motion exercise, but it adds a spiritual element into it.  So there were cheungun (ph) that if you do some simple gesture, it could generate a fragrance.  So attracted many people.  Then there was junegun (ph).  That's also a national, very well organized chigong system.

So, Falun Gong was the latest that came onto the scene.  It was founded in 1992.  But in the 1980s, many groups spread out in China.  You go to China in the 1980s, 1990s, go to parks, you'd see all of them, all kinds of them practicing.  Some of them became so well organized, that became a threat to the people in the position.

Since 1999, all those chigong groups were banned -- have been banned -- they're not allowed.  But chigong is allowed, but it's only branch -- well, not branch, one branch; it's called health chigong.  If you do chigong for physical health, that's fine but don't make it a spiritual organization.

MAYFAIR YANG:  I wanted to add to that that, again there is this irony in that China -- Chinese government is again importing something from the west.  This notion of cult; it comes from -- there is a lot of borrowing.  As David Palmer, who has an article tracing the history of Chinese state attitudes towards sectarian religious movements all the way down to the Falun Gong in my book.

He shows how recently since the banning of Falun Gong, the state has supported a lot of academic research into western social science notions of cult and the deprogramming of cult members.  And they've sent people to the United States and Japan to study new religions and how to deal with and thwart these weird new cults and religions.

So, again, they're borrowing western social science to do something that the west may not support, but it's coming from the west too.

LAUTZ:  Walter?

MEAD:  Walter Mead, Council on Foreign Relations.

As I listen to this difference between the regulation, which is rather strict, and then the practice, which becomes a little bit more lax given the rising diversity of Chinese society, it strikes me that the relationship of the Catholic Church to the state is a very interesting one because if we think of Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism -- in a sense, the three religions which aren't part of your favored group -- Islam and Protestantism tend to be somewhat decentralized and so may benefit from the relaxation in practice.  But for the Catholic Church to really flourish, it needs some kind of change in the official relationship between the Communist state and the Vatican.

What do you think are the prospects for getting a concordat or some kind of arrangement between the Catholic Church and the state?  And -- I know there's been some appearance of movement lately, can we be hopeful about that future? (Laughter.)

FENGGANG YANG:  This is a difficult question because it has been hopeful for quite a number of years.  And here are people working behind the scenes very hard.  Sometimes they're making one step and then maybe two steps backward.  It's just so complicated.  There are so many other factors playing into this.

And in terms of priority, you know, think about the current government authorities, there are interesting economic evolvements; that has been the central task.  Anything that is beneficial to that, they will have a more positive attitude toward it.  Anything that's not in favor of economic development they will put aside as not a priority.

So I think the relationship with the Vatican is really -- is not -- just simply not a priority in their agenda.  I don't see huge obstacles.  You know, it's not -- it's -- I think the two sides are getting quite close.  It's simply it's there are other priorities for the government to work on.

LAUTZ:  And of course, there is still the problem of Taiwan and the fact that the Vatican recognizes and has diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

FENGGANG YANG:  I believe that's not a real issue anymore.

LAUTZ:  Okay.

FENGGANG YANG:  This issue is the control of who appoints the bishops, because that's really -- is that internal affairs or is that religious affairs?  So that's a definition.

But, you know, that still -- that can work out just like, you know, Vietnam model or some models people are talking about.  All plans are on the table, you can discuss.  Simply, the Chinese government has more urgent things to take care of.  That's my view.

LAUTZ:  There's expertise in the audience on this, I expect.  Is there a follow-up comment or question?  And if not, I think there was a question over here -- yes.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  Josh Walker, Princeton University.

The title of the panel that we were talking about is The New Dynamic Change in Landscape, right?  And it's interesting, when I was listening to the way that everybody was describing it, we had the landscape in China domestically, we had the international landscape.  And we also -- it sounded like we had challenges and opportunities that religion represents.  And it seemed like we were focusing mostly on the challenges, you know, for the state, for the republic -- and perhaps this question might be directed towards the next panel as well, but I wanted to get your sense here.

As the landscape for religion has changed globally and internationally, and when you laid out the five religions and the importance because they were connected internationally, how does that impact the Chinese government and the Chinese people as the landscape for religion globally changes specifically from an American context post-9/11?  When you talk about China as having 20 million Muslims, that puts it in a very different context as it reaches out to other Muslim nations and tries to develop relations.

How does that impact China?

LAUTZ:  Brian, do you want to take a crack at that?

GRIM:  Well, you know, the world in China is -- many Chinese people are coming and going from China today.  So the commerce, the dialogue between Chinese today is much different than it was 20, 30 years ago where you might only find, you know, one in a million Chinese outside the country.  Today, you go places and you see more Chinese in international venues than you might see other nationalities.

So, I think that, you know, for sure, as China integrates and -- you know, and the Chinese population itself has more ties, the policy behind the three self -- these five -- well, the Protestant three self-church, which is self-propagating, self-supporting and self-administrating, and that's what they're aiming for is that these churches don't have any outside influence, it becomes more difficult to maintain that.

So where that's going in the future I'm not sure, but the reality will be that, you know, they are in a globalized world and the connections are almost impossible to control.

FENGGANG YANG:  On that, I think actually works playing out in China could have implications for the whole world.

Just take -- one example is Chinese Islam.  I'm not talking about chingjong (ph), but the Hui Muslims in China have -- they have been there for thousands of years and they have accommodated to the Chinese system of -- (inaudible) -- Confucianism.  And that's -- I think the west does not know much about the Chinese Islam.

Chinese Islam could have something really interesting if we learn more about them.  How do they live as a minority in a large country?  Instead of becoming confrontational, conflicting all the time -- but live in peace.  And I guess -- I wonder whether it has anything to do with their integration with Confucianism.

And if earlier I sounded more suspicious of Confucianism, I do want to put some positive light on that.  Actually, personally, I also feel so.  I think Confucianism and Islam accommodates to each other and then there's some kind of peace -- peaceful existence.  The same could be true if Confucianism and Christianity get more accommodated to each other, adapt and integrate.  There may not be that perceived conflict between the Confucian world and the Christian world.

In fact, in my own study, I have a book on display, "The Chinese Christians in America," I find most Chinese Christians -- both in the U.S. or those in Hong Kong or in mainland China -- most of them we could even label them as Confucian Christians.  It's no conflict.  They're incorporated -- Confucian ideas and Christian beliefs.  And that may be hopeful if we do more research and make that evolve.

QUESTIONER:  One more thing.  There is a -- from an American point of view we think of if someone's a Christian they would be opposed to communism and therefore opposed to what's going on in China.

For most Chinese believers -- thinking of Christians and all believers -- they love their country; you know the vast majority do.  So I think that that's a dynamic that this nationalism, which we saw with the Torch Race going around the world where Chinese who are in, you know, San Francisco outnumbered the protestors, not just because the consulate organized them, but because they really love their country and want to support it.

So I think that's another dynamic involved with religion that even though China wants to make sure they are self-propagating and self-supporting, the churches really do also love their country, or many, many do.

LAUTZ:  Yes.  Please, yes.  Sorry.

QUESTIONER:  Hi, my name's Betsy Daman and I worked in China for 10 years.  And I hear you talking about several things, but what I experienced is that there's what Beijing says and there's then what -- which sometimes -- and that's what we hear about in the press.  And then there's this whole other dynamic happening around the country, which occasionally uses what Beijing says as an excuse to say to me, "You can't do that."  But, generally functions independently.

I was taken by a rogue monk around to all kinds of self-started Buddhist things in Dahlian.  I was completely shocked.  I mean, he offered to take me on a holiday for other reasons, but this is what my holiday was.  And, you know, like abandoned wonderful places were tuned into Buddhist -- something that hadn't succeeded economically was turned into a Buddhist meeting center.  A reclaiming of a cave; now that the government suddenly interfered and wouldn't let them open them.  But they'll keep going and they will open it.

And with the Shinjian people there, it's actually a lot of rebellion with the Ouiger and the Hui.  There's a certain amount of discontent in Kashgar and places like that and there have been -- they have gotten along, but the recent - - they used -- the Chinese government used 9/11 to crack down.  So it's a very complicated dance there that -- I don't know if you could talk to a little more, but I experienced as a foreigner working there --

LAUTZ:  Specifically on Shinjian --

QUESTIONER:  The question isn't that clear.  It's just like all these things --

MAYFAIR YANG:  Yeah, I think you do point to an important reality in China, and that is that there is a system of laws and regulations of the central government, but down below, people basically do whatever they can get away with.

And that is the situation because China as a culture is not a legalistic culture like the United States is an extremely legalistic culture.  We're highly regulated here in the United States.  And it's hard because we have also this ideology of freedom, but, actually, one could say that in many places around the world where things don't operate according to laws and laws are not enforced systematically, that there is more freedom.

So, in China it's a very personalistic society.  It's based on the importance of social relations.  So if you have extremely good social relations that you cultivated with your local officials, that local official can look the other way.  And so down at the grassroots, a lot of that happens, which doesn't get into the media.  It's exactly true.

LAUTZ:  We have time for one last question.

Back here please.

QUESTIONER:  My name's Tony Carnes.  I'm with Christianity Today.

I have a question.  There was this very fast growth of Christianity in modern China, now there's sort of a palls particularly in the countryside.  There's some growth in the urban areas.  Social movements tend to go really fast and then they either sort of go in quiescence or disintegrate or they find a new way to go -- even another plateau of growth.

I was wondering, what kind of prognostications do you have about particularly the Protestants in China.  Are they in a palls or in a downward movement or are they doing things that we can expect something -- another spurt of growth in the next couple of years?

Thank you.

FENGGANG YANG:  About the Christian growth, my personal observation based on field work -- I traveled a lot in China -- I think currently Christianity still grows fast and strong, and -- especially in the cities, in urban areas in the last few years.

There are migrant workers, there are churches among them, there are also those for intellectuals; college students and college graduates.  Those unregistered churches, they have grown.  Some of them become so big they meet in office buildings with several hundred people.  Some, even more than 1,000 people attending service.

I didn't see this even five years ago.  This is really new in the last three or four years.  I see this as a continuing trend.  But at the same time, if we think about history, in the 19 -- you know, after the Boxer Rebellion in the 1900s, that was a downturn of Christian growth, but then in the next two decades, Christianity grew very fast.

By the 1920s, there was a strong anti-Christian movement among intellectuals; the anti-Christian movement in the 1920s.  So then it slowed down Christian growth but then during the war and after the war, there was another rapid growth of Christianity.

Many similar -- social conditions seems to be similar to the 1920s or late 1910s and early 1920s now.  It's the revival of this traditionalist package of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism; it became political.  Then that could mean a slow down of Christian growth.  But if that -- if not, the revival of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism -- if that revival is not dominant by the fundamentalist type -- you know, fundamentalist Confucianist, fundamentalist Buddhist, fundamentalist Daoist -- then it could be helpful to create greater social space for the growth of all religions, Christianity included.

LAUTZ:  If I may borrow just a few more minutes since we got started just a wee bit late, I'd like to ask each of you in conclusion if you could just in a few words say what you believe is the single biggest misconception about religion in China -- the religious landscape in China.

Brian, could you start?

GRIM:  I think the biggest misconception is that religious interest is low and that religion is probably something confined to older people, to people in the countryside.

All those things are false.  You know, the greatest interest, as Mayfair Yang said, is in the cities; I mean, there's interest in the rural areas but cities are interested.  There's interest across all age groups, there's interest across all income groups and there's interest -- men and women have equal interest.

So, even speaking to the last question, all of that interest is there, and yet, more than 70 percent of the Chinese population don't register affiliation with a religion, which means that there's a lot of room -- there's a lot of un-churched people out there, so to speak, for whatever religion you're talking about.  So it has the potential to be a very competitive religious marketplace yet down the road.  (Laughter.)

LAUTZ:  Mayfair, what would you say is the biggest misconception we have?

MAYFAIR YANG:   The biggest misconception in the west or United States?

LAUTZ:  Outside of China.  U.S., if you want to make it particular to one country.

MAYFAIR YANG:  (Laughs.)  I guess there is a notion that you have this -- the misconception is that you have this traditional, despotic state that crushes down on religious life.  And, you know, what I've been saying, pretty much today is that it's really only since the 20th century that you have this state -- embarked on radical state secularization.  And this idea actually came from the west -- from the enlightenment west and it's kind of various ideologies of scientism and progress and modernization and evolutionism.  These all came from the west itself.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah.  One thing I think I would like point out is when people in the west talk about religious freedom in China, they make it sound like the authority is in one voice, one position.  It's not.

I think there are people in the leadership who wants greater opening up -- open greater -- more, and there are those who try to hold the outdated ideological positions.  Got to the more sophisticated to understand the complexity.  It's not mono -- you know, one unified position in the top leadership.  It's not.

And one example in the central quadrant school, someone led a team to plan out for further reforms.  That team suggested that the Communist Party membership should not have the condition of atheist belief.  The Communist Party should open to religious believers to become members.  I think that's quite significant, and also that's more up to date with market economy and also as what they call the -- (inaudible) -- rather than a revolutionary party, the party now is the ruling party, not revolutionary party.

The ruling party -- we need to welcome all those progressive forces including religious believers.  I think that's -- we need to know about this and -- so actually in fact, there are Communist Party members who are religious believers.  And the number is increasing.  So I think it's only a matter of time when the party constitution would revise.

GRIM:  On that, we analyzed a survey across China, and of all the occupational groups across China the group that expressed the most interest in learning about religion was government employees and party members; far and above all other occupational groups in China.

LAUTZ:  Brian Grim, Mayfair Yang, Fenggang Yang, thank you so much. (Applause.)

We now have a 15-minute break, and we'll reconvene at 10:00.  Or else.  (Laughter.)

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This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

MINKY WORDEN:  Thank you all for joining us today.  And we're following our excellent first session with the second session of our symposium on religion and the future of China.

I'd like to give a brief reminder to everyone to turn off and not to put on vibrate your cell phones, Blackberrys and all wireless devices.  They will interfere with our sound system here and give a very unattractive feedback.  I'd also like to remind the audience that this meeting is on the record.  Participants from around the world will be listening in and have the ability to view a live webcast on the Council's website.

And I would like to introduce our speakers today.  In the materials that you have, there are very extensive biographical details, so I will just introduce them very briefly.  Professor Dru Gladney who's the president of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College; Professor Rebecca Nedostup, the assistant professor of Chinese history at Boston College; and Professor Robert Barnett the research scholar and the head of the Modern Tibetan Studies department at Columbia University.  So I will give a very brief and brisk introduction to the -- this session is titled Religion and the State.  So a very quick framing because we have a lot of ground to cover today and I want to leave a lot of time for questions from the audience.

This year has been a very difficult and important year for China and for Chinese leaders.  Last October, we had the party congress.  In March, we had the Tibet protest followed by a crackdown that is still ongoing.  In March, we had the Szechwan earthquake -- in May, we had the Szechwan earthquake.  And the Olympics in Beijing and seven cities across China will begin August 8, 2008, at 8:08 pm.  That's a very lucky day in the -- on the Chinese calendar.

So I'd like to ask all of our speakers to say a very quick -- to give a brief introduction to certain topics.  Rebecca is going to do the sweep of Chinese history in relation to religion and the state.  It's a very challenging framing exercise.  We're going to go then to Robby Barnett who is going to talk about the Tibetan history and the Tibetan autonomous region but also deal most particulary with the recent protest and the crackdown and also what is ahead for Tibet.  For example, when the torch relay goes to Lhasa at the end of June.  And Dru Gladney is going to talk about the Ouiger autonomous region and some of the challenges there.

So let me turn it first over to Rebecca for an overview and a -- to lead us into the discussion.

REBECCA NEDOSTUP:  Thanks so much.  I'm a bit lucky in my task because for those of you who were here for the first session, Professor Mayfair Yang did a bit of my work for me, so I want to pick up a little bit on some of the things she said.  And especially if you place the history of the development of the relationship of state and religion in China in the 20th century, not just in terms of Chinese history but in terms of world history because it really is -- that development really is a world historical development, and that's something that's not often talked about.  Because the changes that we have when in the shift from the imperial government to modern representative government is a really important one because, yes, the imperial state often had cause to stigmatize certain kinds of religious groups, particular as heterodox as was talked about in the first session, not just because of the social threat, but because of the religious role that the state, particularly the emperor and officials in their guise as representatives of the emperor played themselves because they represented the balance of the cosmos -- they represented the pivot point between heaven and earth.

And so when certain heterodox groups rose up to challenge that role, that was a very important challenge.  But it is important to remember that they also often were required to carry out religious rituals in their role as representatives of the government.  So when the last dynasty falls, that all changes.  And in the move to elected representative governments of various kinds, that is gone. And so, what we have then in the 20th century is different states coming into competition with religious community organizations for resources.  Sometimes that's direct competition for financial resources, sometimes for temple property and for the other kinds of economic resources that religious organizations can command.  And sometimes that's in competition for the affections of people.  And in times when the state is very strong or mobilizational in the early 20th Century and during the cultural revolution as well, there's a sense that modern citizens should cast all their affections as citizens to the state rather than to religious affiliations and any other kind of social affiliation.  And at other times when the state is looser, you can have multiple affiliations.  So there is this sense of competition.

But the other thing that I would like to bring out -- and this is sort of the world historical context -- is the idea of what religion is changes as well at the beginning of the 20th century.  And this was alluded to in the morning session.  When constitutionalism is introduced with the idea of freedom of religion, that brings with it the need to determine what religion is.  That brings with it a new vocabulary, i.e. the name religion, Tsungiao (sp) in Chinese which did not exist in the Chinese vocabulary before the turn of the 20th century.  There is and idea of religions of course in the sense of there is Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, et cetera, et cetera.  But the idea of religion as a discrete category distinguishable from politics, from science, and so on is something that is introduced from the West.

And so what should religion look like?  It carries with it this neologism, the idea that religion is something that looks -- ought to look particularly like Christianity, particularly like Protestant Christianity, something that has a visible text, something where people go to church once a week so that you have this oddity of, in the early 20th century of Buddhists trying to create Buddhist church where you go to Buddhist church once a week.  That's a very short-lived unsuccessful movement.  But there is -- this is a cultural ideal and so this is something that we still see today in a lot of analyses of freedom of religion and even surveys of religions.  When we count people who have religious affiliations, what are we counting?  Are we counting people who sign up for a particular faith or belief 24-7, and does that necessarily go against how -- what the traditional view of Chinese religious practice is, which is extremely eclectic and can include a variety of things ranging from funerary practice to ancestral veneration and so-on and so forth.  And so this is a consistent struggle, both an intellectual struggle and a political struggle throughout the 20th century, of classification both ion the governmental level and on the academic intellectual level of trying to fit a very multitudinous religious practice into these slots. And so this is -- this is the sort of framework in the 20th century that state and religion fits into.

So when freedom of religion is guaranteed it is often guaranteed to institutionalized religions that eventually end up into the five religions that we have today guaranteed.  And the other corollary is that is in most Chinese constitutions from the early ones in the late Ching Dynasty there's the corollary of freedom of religion is guaranteed except where determined by law.  And that's something that's adopted actually from the Meiji constitution in Japan.  So there's always this kind of gray area attached to freedom of religion as well.  So those are the few things that I would like to bring out at the outset in terms of the overall framework of state of religion.

WORDEN:  That's a very good transition moment because it is all in the implementation of course of the law.  So we'd like to move along to cover a couple of important regions and themes.  And for the next two speakers I'd like, if you'd be interested to -- if you're not familiar with the areas we're going to be talking about, we have a map at the back of your materials here.  And we're going to move on to Professor Barnett who will speak about recent developments in Tibet and challenges there.  But before I ask him to speak, I'd like to recognize a Tibetan monk who's in the audience with us today.  Paul Den Gatzo (sp) if you would mind standing is visiting the Council today from Dampala (sp).  He is a monk that has experienced torture but tells his story as a way of explaining the experience of many religious Tibetans, and I wanted to recognize him. Thank you. (Applause.)

Robbie if you wouldn't mind picking up with a brief overview of the history of the Tibetan autonomous region, emphasis on autonomy ,and talking about the latest developments.

ROBERT BARNETT:  Well, thank you.  To follow on from what Professor Nedostup has said, the same kind of problem exists when we think about Tibet.  The problem I think is twofold.  One is for us as Westerners.  Following the Western project we tend to think of religion as somehow emotional and we tend to think of the state as somehow rational.  And I think China, the state, goes with that set of premises also when it thinks about an area like Tibet.  It tries to produce this flattening project that you described so well, and apply a set of ideas and regulations across China, including the areas that it has annexed very recently as if they were all much the same, as if religion as a unitary thing that can be dealt with in fairly similar ways.

In Tibet, this kind of approach, this super-rational approach of the Chinese state, the Chinese bureaucrat has caused huge problems, momentous collapse in the relations between state and society.  One of the problems is that historically, if I should address that, Tibet was never an integral part of China.  It had some kind of status within the Chinese empire, but not strictly even the Chinese empire in the Mongol empire under the Yuan and the Manchu empire under the Ching.  It had some rule there.  There was a Chinese commissioner, actually two commissioners would be established there.  And essentially they had very little involvement in Tibetan affairs except for foreign relations and things like that.  So Tibet never really saw the Chinese officials or any Chinese state until -- after 1904, the British invaded.  That provoked the Chinese to move toward annexing Tibet as if it were an integral part of China.

Moving towards setting it up as a province, the Chinese invaded in 1910.  They failed because the Ching Dynsasty collapsed in 1911.  Tibet declared independence a couple of years later,  but Mao, of course, was able to move in in 1950 with the People's Liberation Army.  And then he established what seemed to Tibetans at the time something that was really welcome, the idea of Tibet, which he defined just as the central and western areas of the plateau, as an autonomous area.  That autonomy in a very real sense was allowed to exist for eight years.  That project collapsed in 1959 as you probably all know, the Dalai Lama fled, there was an uprising, and then there was 20 years in which, more or less, there was an attempt to wipe out religion.  Some 95 (percent), 96 percent of monasteries had been closed down before the cultural revolution began -- several years before.  We have to be careful about thinking of the Cultural Revolution as the only site in which religion is seen as the enemy of the state.  In Tibet and other areas that had happened much earlier.

From 1980, we get a very, very interesting attempt by China under Hu Yaobang to move back to the 1950s dispensation, an idea of giving Tibet some form of real autonomy.  By that time it wasn't you allowed the traditional government to continue as they had in the 1950s, the idea was a cultural and economic idea of autonomy, much more limited but still very welcome to Tibetans who can practice your religion Hu Yaobang said.  You can have your own administrators, the Chinese officials should leave, something that made him very unpopular in China; and you can have an economy that is developed according to local criteria of benefit, what we would call a Tibetan-centered notion of development.  There's some protests in 1987.  The Chinese state reacts very strongly to those and this dispensation, the 1980s cultural autonomy phase, is ended.  And really, it's the ending of that cultural autonomy that brings us to the situation we're in now.  It wasn't an ending that was really done by security forces.

In the first six years or so after the protests of 1987, the state tried to deal with religion and with politics by using essentially police forces.  You arrested people.  For a while, you tried torture, then they backed off that, they learned that that was counterproductive to use in large scale.  They tried to control information especially after '93 and so on.  But it was only in 1994 that a new leader was sent to Tibet by Beijing who decided that the problem of nationalism in Tibet was not what we would call a political problem or a security problem.  He decided it was a cultural, religious problem.

And the leadership in Tibet formulated a phrase which has enormous significance for everyone in Tibet and all of us which is, it's never been made public but we understand something like this, "the roots of nationalism in Tibet are in the language, and the roots of the language are in the religion, and the roots of the language are in culture."  Sometimes the formulation varies.  This meant that the Chinese state had decided to treat religion and culture in Tibet as a security problem.  Essentially, what happens in the Chinese administration, not consciously -- this is a historical resurgence of old imperial dynastic fears about religion that religion is a political problem.  That religion is something to do with sects, that's -- we heard about this morning that you have to regulate and control politically.

And then China began in 1994 the campaign against the Dalai Lama.  There'd never been criticisms of the Dalai Lama as a religious figure in the 1980s.  He was criticized only politically.  Then there were very strict rules brought in in the monasteries, and all the monks, nuns were required then to denounce the Dalai Lama.  And continually we see more and more limits on religion in Tibet.  Some of those limits are rational.  You or I might not agree with the decision not to allow monks who are under 18 (years old), not to allow monks to be members of a monastery unless they are patriotic, that's a requirement.  But we can understand why a government might do that; it makes sense.  But it does not make sense to Tibetans, and I don't think it makes sense to Chinese in the metropol in the center of China, why China has rules in Tibet and I think we'll hear more about Chizhang (ph) that say no government employee, whether or not they're in the party, is allowed to practice religion.  No student is allowed to practice religion or go to a monastery and so on.

So there we see a leakage of the rational state which regulates religion to fundamentally a pathological state an anxiety-driven kind of regulatory machine that starts to make rules that it can't explain.  Those rules are secret.  They're not distributed in writing.  Rules that it hasn't got a rationale for.  And in that situation we get a much bigger split between state and society.  And I think that's what's led to the protests this spring -- or one of the major factors -- the continual push against religion for incoherent unexplained reasons.  And that's produced a very important result now but we've seen protests in the last two months from maybe 120 places, about maybe 80 percent of those protests were peaceful but 20 were quite violent.  The violence in all cases really was against the government.  Once case, in Lhasa was against Chinese migrants, but significantly like 70 percent of those protests are rural or in county towns and probably 60 (percent) to 70 percent are lay people, not monks.  In other words, the attack on religion in secular, in lay society has triggered now a response that we've never seen in Tibet for some 40 or so years, a response from the rural-lay base across the countryside as well as in the town.  This is a big problem for China.  And that response is not just from that area central to that but from the whole of the Tibetan plateau. So now we have a situation where the state has created a kind of unity among Tibetans.  It's created a nationalism, really in defense of its religious identity and its traditions.

WORDEN:  Well that's a very good transition to -- particularly your definition of treating religion and culture in Tibet as a security problem.  It's a very good transition to Xinjiang.

So over to you, Professor Gladney.

DRU C. GLADNEY:  Thank you, Minky.

I think that map that's in the back of your program is most useful for my segment of the talk when Robbie Barnett, Professor Barnett, says Tibetm I think most of you all of you have a pretty good idea where Tibet is and what Tibetan religion is about and who Tibetans are.  But when Minky says Xinjiang, the maps go open because, you know, where is that, how do you pronounce that X.  Who are these people Ouiger?  How do you pronounce that name?  And I think that is one of the biggest problems for talking about that region.  It's hard to pronounce.  You know, it's like, why -- Americans drink chardonnay, they can pronounce that but they don't drink chavignon blanc because that's hard to pronounce.  And I think the problems of that region is that it's been little covered in the Western media because it has seemed so remote and exotic.  But that has changed. It's changed since 9-11 and it's changed since the Olympics.

I want to say very clearly that China does not have a Muslim problem.  It does not have an Islam problem.  The vast majority of China's 20 million Muslims are very patriotic.  They're very well integrated into Chinese society and culture. China enforces freedom of religion for Islam.  Islam is one of the five constitutionally allowed and permitted and regulated religions in China.  It's permitted.  To be a Muslim in China the government pays the mosques.  It pays the salaries of the imams.  So China, I want to make very clear, does not have an Islam problem.  It does not have a Muslim problem.  But it is also true that China has a Xinjiang problem and a Ouiger problem.  And I want to make a distinction between those two problems.

First, a little bit more about the issue of Islam in China because if you go on Wikipedia, as I did this morning, and you look up the population and you look up Islam in China, you look at the population, it'll tell you 38 million Muslims in China.  National Geographic five years ago published a map of Islam around the world, global Islam -- 40 million Muslims in China, National Geographic.  That's absolutely incorrect.  One of the things the Chinese are really good at doing is counting people, and the national census has been recognized by international sociologists and demographers to have been extremely accurate.  Probably the most accurate Census the world has ever seen was the one conducted by China in the year 2000 -- great improvement over the 1982 census.  And that told us very clearly there are about 21 million Muslims in China.  Now that doesn't include Han who may have converted to Islam.  But there are very, very few examples of that.  And it doesn't include Muslims who actually might be secular or Marxist.  Now only Allah knows for sure if they're real Muslims but they are counted as national minorities.

And that's very interesting phenomenon in China.  That China has recognized it's Muslim populations as members -- 10 separate nationality groups -- and that's a very interesting policy that is also influenced by the West.  As Professor Mayfair Yang mentioned today earlier that the Western social science approach to Marxism and through Western scientism in some ways in China had a very strong influence not only in creating the word religion which, as Rebecca told us earlier, did not exist, but the word Islam did not exist in Chinese prior to the modern era.  Islam was the Hui person's religion.  Now, who are the Hui.  The Hui are the largest Muslim group in China.  And they are dispersed, they're extremely diverse.  They never really were a single ethnic group.  They are descended from Muslims who are Arabs, Persians, even Turks and even Mongols who came into China and settled, mostly men, intermarried over 1,300 years with Chinese populations and have become very integrated into every city and every town in China. There are over 10 million of these Hui in every city you go.

If you see Arabic on a street sign, that means that's a Hui restaurant or a Hui market.  The government pays for Halal food stores, grocery stores, hospitals.  Because of course for China, one of the biggest challenges for Muslims is the prevalence of use of pork and lard -- and all products, not just food but cleaning products and et cetera.  It's a great challenge.  It has also meant that the Hui Muslims, to live and to be integrated in Chinese society, have had to be tremendously resilient and innovative and accommodating to Chinese culture.  It's a great success story -- the integration of Muslim population into a very alien society.

When you think about Middle Easterners coming into China and you compare what's happened in China with this group compared to Europe -- for example, Muslims in  Europe.  So China has a great success story to tell about this extraordinary integration.  I wouldn't so far as saying Professor Yang really has to talk about Confucian Muslims because there are some tensions there.  But Confucianism was integrated into Islam in China. In a sense, the Muslims tried to prove themselves to be as moral as Confucians and to use the morality of Confucianism to legitimate and justify Islam.

(In progress after audio break) -- but they flourished in China.  Some of the most successful businessmen today in China are Muslims.  China is using many of its Muslims in foreign diplomacy.  They're playing an incredibly important role in China's extremely good relationships with every Middle Eastern country, including Israel, including Palestine, including Iran, Pakistan.  China's Muslims are there.  They've been going there, and they're going there in larger numbers.  And Middle Eastern Muslims are coming to China in huge numbers, creating a whole city, Niwu and Jejung (ph), that I'm sure Mayfair knows all about, where it's a huge Muslim population.

Iraqis can't get visas to go to Europe or the United States.  They can to China.  There's a huge Iraqi-Muslim population in Jejung (ph) that never existed before, and Chinese Muslims -- Hui -- are very involved with these people in trade, speaking Arabic, which they learn in the mosques.

But that story is quite different than Xinjiang.  And again, when you look at the map on the far corner of the region, you find that there's two problems for this -- for China.  It's the Xinjiang problem and it's the Ouiger problem.  I'll just mention a couple of aspects of those problems.  If you look at Xinjiang, it's in a bad neighborhood.  (Laughter.) It's a tough neighborhood.  At one point, you know, you had the Soviet Union and now you have eight countries, five of whom are Muslim, most of whom are in very sad shape.  And China -- Xinjiang for that reason is in a difficult position.

It's also -- you may not know -- the largest AIDS growth region in China, partly because of that neighborhood, because of drugs, trucking, all of those reasons that AIDS flourish anywhere else in the world, such as Africa, China has those problems in Xinjiang, also Yunnan, also a border minority area.

The other aspect of the Xinjiang problem is its wealth, its mineral wealth.  It's extraordinary.  China no longer has any other sources for petrochemical growth except Xinjiang, no other domestic source.  And if China is going to maintain its growth trajectory, it not only has to import greater energy sources, but especially liquid natural gas as well as oil.  It has to either come from Xinjiang or go through Xinjiang, especially if it's using Central Asian oil.

But that wealth is also problematic for the region because of the great disparity in income it's causing between those who are benefiting from that mineral wealth and those who are not.  And the locals in Xinjiang, both Muslim, Ouiger and Han, equally complain about the fact that they aren't benefiting.  They are not like Alaskans who benefit from development in their region.  The mineral wealth throughout China, whether you're from Tibet or Xinjiang, belongs to the state and it goes to the state, and then the state redistributes that wealth.

But you don't see that if you're a resident.  You see beautiful roads, beautiful buildings, excellent telecommunications in a rather undeveloped region, and you see some of the highest per capital GNP in all of China is in Xinjiang.  But the locals, Han and Ouiger, feel that they're not benefiting.  It's also -- that wealth is attracting huge populations of migrants, poor Han peasants from all over China because it's a boom town.  It's like Los Angeles, you know, 150 years ago and the discovery of gold and then later the story of the growth of the West is not unlike Xinjiang.

Now, the Ouiger problem is, of course, related to the fact that they are in this very isolated region, whereas China's Muslims, the Hui, are spread out throughout China, Beijing.  You have 160 mosques, 200,000 Hui Muslims in Beijing city alone.  And in Xinjiang the Ouiger have been the vast majority for centuries.  They're used to having their own region, their own language, their own culture.

But starting in the 1940s, Chinese migrants started to come to the region.  As far as we can tell, Han Chinese population in Xinjiang was less than 5 percent in the 1940s.  Today it's about 40 percent, enormous growth of population.  And the Ouiger I think feel very embattled.  They aren't prospering from the enormous growth and wealth, but they also feel that they're connected to a global Islamic network.  They are near these other regions.  They are influenced by these global trends.  And 9-11 had a tremendous impact on the Ouiger, not only in their awareness of global Islam, but also in their position as being regarded as a threat to the integrity of China.

For the Ouiger Islam, is not the issue.  It's sovereignty.  Sovereignty for the Ouiger has meant that -- they were actually -- many Ouiger were expecting that when the Soviet Union dissolved, you had all these new stans, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan.  They were hoping for a Ouigeristan, or at least East Turkistan.  And when it didn't happen, there was a great deal of frustration, particularly in the late '90s.  There were protests, civil unrest, some organized revolts, bombings in Beijing even that can be fairly accurately traced to Ouigers.

But since the late '90s, we've seen almost no protests.  Now, there have been some incidents, and most recently on March 9th, just before the Tibetan protests related to the Olympics, supposedly a group of Ouigers attempted to commandeer an airplane, and they were accused of plotting to bring this airplane down.

Now, all the evidence on that case is not in yet, but it does suggest that there continue to be Ouigers who -- though we don't see mass protests and indeed, we haven't seen any real Olympics related protests among Ouigers in China or abroad, interestingly enough.  But we do know that there's tremendous amount of discontent in the region among the Ouigers.

What are the sources of that discontent?  I mentioned migration.  I mentioned being sort of kept out of wealth, but also many of the laws that are regarded as repressive, as Robby has mentioned in Tibet, have also been applied in Xinjiang, not because they're Muslims, but because they are thought to be a threat to the state and because they are thought to be separatists -- have separatist sentiments.

What I have seen in the last 10 years is a growing awareness of Ouigers, that if they're going to make it in China, they can't entertain illusions of a separate state.  They have to realize that if they were a separate state, they might look a lot more like places like Tajikistan or Kashmir than they do like today, growing metropolis, a lot of support from the state center.

So there's been a sort of disillusionment with independence among Ouigers, but there's also continued discontent.  And for China that's a problem because you have nearly 10 million of these people, and they are tremendously well engaged in the region of Central Asia.  They're a Turkic speaking people.  The language of Ouiger is basically similar to Uzbek.  Twenty-five million Uzbeks, nearly 10 million Ouigers.  That whole Central Asian region speak Turkic languages that -- I speak Istanbul Turkish, and I can fairly well communicate with many of those people.

So they're a tremendous asset for China in terms of their connection with Central Asia, but also I think China needs to find better ways to win their hearts and minds.  For the Ouigers, I think it's difficult for them to participate in the broader Chinese mainstream, particularly learning Chinese as a second language, also wanting to learn those other languages in the region, such as English.  Urdu is a very popular language in the region, trade with Pakistan.  Russian was once very strong among Ouigers.

And to win over the hearts and minds of this population is an enormous challenge for China, but I think the benefits would be extraordinary.

WORDEN:  Okay.  At this time we'd like to open things up to the audience, and when you get the mike, please stand up, state your name and affiliation, and keep your question brief and brisk.

Any questions from the audience?  Let's see.  Well, I will perhaps direct the first question to our speakers, and that is what impact, if any, the earthquake has had in your respective regions or areas of expertise?  And Rebecca, please speak generally to the earthquake.

And I'm particularly interested because the earthquake happened to also affect a number of the ethnic Tibetan areas that are outside the TAR, the Tibetan Autonomous Region.  These were areas that had been closed off, including to journalists.  So what are some of the likely Effects of the earthquake on the -- on some of these issues of autonomy and openness that we've discussed?  Maybe we'll start with Robby.

BARNETT:  Well, this morning, I got some calls from some journalists, Western journalists who were in the Tibetan areas for the first time partly in a sense by mistake.  The Tibetan areas are being closed off by China almost entirely since the protest -- quite problematic for China's international image.  But they're having to let some journalists go through part of the Tibetan areas in order to get to the earthquake zone.  And the people I talked to this morning -- are actually with NPR -- were saying that they think there's no real damage to the Tibetan parts of the earthquake area.  The damage is very, very local, but, of course, it was very densely populated on the Chinese side of the fault line.

So Tibetans have not been, it seems, hugely physically affected, not significant numbers have died, thank God, compared to the numbers of Chinese who've died.  I think many Hui as well probably, though we don't know yet, but especially China.  People are saying in China that 10 percent of the Chong may have died, a really catastrophic loss for that nationality there.

If we talk about the Tibetan question in relation to the earthquake, it is interesting because it shows such a strong contrast in the way the Chinese state behaves.  When I talked about earlier this question of the sense of the irrational, the sense of the pathological, about the way the Chinese bureaucrat operates with regard to a problematic like religion, unfortunately, the earthquake has made this seem even more evident because you have a Tibet that's completely closed down, extremely traditional hardline, crackdown policies.

Everybody in Tibet is now being forced to recite formal denounciations of their religious leader, the Dalai Lama, for very unclear reasons, really, if you think about it.  And no journalists are allowed to go there except a couple of groups.  And yet, in the earthquake area and because of the earthquake tragedy, there's been a lot of openness of press and the state has been very wonderfully positive and supportive and so on.

So I don't mean this is deliberate by the Chinese state, but it has produced by default through this kind of unevenness of policy a perception among Tibetans that there's one system for Tibetans and one system for the non-Tibetans.  Of course, they all understand one is a natural disaster and one is political protest.  But nevertheless, the difference is so huge.

And we see here China stumbling.  China stumbled hugely when it handled the Tibet protests because it decided to attack the Dalai Lama, which means attacking religion -- again, no clear reason, hasn't been able to produce any obvious reason for that attack.  And it also put on television footage, endless footage of the one incident in Lhasa among the 100 or so where Tibetans attacked Chinese migrants -- very vicious, very ugly and very unpleasant.

But what it did was to create a gulf between Chinese and Tibetans, thousands of Chinese, millions writing on the Internet saying how bad the Tibetans are.  That's undermining the Chinese project of we are a multinational state.  They're not calling it that now.  They're calling it a multicultural state.  For the last 10 years it was a multi-ethnic state.  The rhetoric's changing.

But still, China, with its handling of these difficult questions, it's beginning to throw out these contradictions.  And I think the earthquake, unfortunately, increases that.  One example of that is a lot of arrests happening now in Lhasa, a lot of publicity from the state about rumors.  Five people have just been arrested last week and charged, punished for spreading rumors.  We think, from the messages we get from Lhasa, the rumors are the earthquake was a kind of retribution for China's actions in Tibet the month before.  That doesn't mean that people literally think this.  It's a kind of notion of karma, if you like, the Sharon Stone approach to (laughter) -- but, you know, even among Chinese you see that view.

And yesterday I saw -- and I saw this morning some article saying that religious belief is going to increase now in China across Chinese people because of the earthquake.  So there are these kind of unexpected results of these disasters.

WORDEN:  Rebecca, do you have any thoughts about the impact of the earthquake?

NEDOSTUP:  Yes.  Well, I think -- a couple of things to think about.  One is in the long historical view, Chinese states have often been willing to welcome the social service provisions that religious organizations can provide, and that is very much in keeping with the favoring of the Christian model of religion.  And this is certainly true of earlier 20th century governments.

One of the things that the Chinese nationalist state in the 1920s -- when it was setting up the state regulatory framework that we sort of see the inheritance of today did was write sort of horditory (sic) letters to Chinese Buddhists saying why can't you be more like those Christians and set up hospitals and clinics and so on?  And Buddhists themselves were extremely interested in doing this, so there was this very interesting dialogue that went back and forth that carried on through the war with Japan that led to some Chinese Buddhist monks actually taking up arms against the Japanese and so on.

So there has been this back and forth, and we see some of this now in a lot of religious charitable organizations going into the earthquake zone, international organizations, and some of this came up in the morning session with the mention of Saji (ph) being one of the most prominent ones, the Taiwanese Buddhist group, but there are other ones.

But there have also been local temples that have opened their doors to refugees.  And so there's been -- and this has been reported in the Chinese press, so there's been a lot more sort of open manifestation, but also open reporting of religiosity happening in the aftermath of the earthquake.  And not all of that is contrary to state interests.  The things that religious organizations can provide, the material resources, are often -- often can work in tandem with what the state needs in an emergent situation.

But also, there's the sort of ritual aspect, the emotional aspect and so on.  And that's important I think not just for people who are outside the state.  And in the first session there was beginnings of a discussion of religious affiliation for people in government.  And I think that's important to remember.  And it's important to -- at this point maybe to start to disaggregate the state, to think of the state not just as unitary actor and to think of different levels of the state, local versus central, as maybe having different interests.

And particularly when we think of the earthquake, there's starting to be a lot of discussion of -- certainly in terms -- mostly in the press of blaming local officials for problems that have happened in the earthquake versus not blaming central officials.  But I think the local officials can sometimes get things out of religious affiliations and organizations that central officials maybe have different interests in.  And that can include also what we might lump very crudely under community needs or spiritual needs.

And that can be defined variously.  There was an item in the New York Times today about the one panda that was killed in the earthquake, being buried by the panda's keeper and the panda's keeper putting an offering on the grave of the panda.  I think we can count that as -- you know, in the broad spectrum of religion.

So, you know, these things are manifesting themselves quite, you know -- in different ways, and I think that times of trauma especially and times of crisis bring out religion and religious needs into state actors in ways that they don't necessarily in more ordinary times.  So I think it's well worth keeping an eye on.  This has happened over and over again in times of war in the 20th century in China.

WORDEN:  Dru, any thoughts about the seismic changes in China in relation to the earthquake?

GLADNEY:  The Muslims were less affected.  They're mostly Hui in the urban centers in that area, traders.  Hui connected the tea trade that freighters from -- down into Burma, Southeast Asia, all the way up through Szechuan, Ching-Hai, Gonsu, (ph) right up into Xingjian, and the Hui were often the traders, smugglers you might call them sometimes because there were often other things being traded.

But for the most part what I think the earthquake illustrated -- Xingjian has had its fair share of earthquakes as well as Ningsha -- major fault lines there in those regions -- is the tremendous complexity and ethnic diversity that is masked by the general focus on Beijing's policies or on China.  What that illustrates is not just this enormous Szechuanese population and culture, which is quite different from the north, but also the fact there's this group known as the Chong.  Nobody had ever heard of them, you know.  Three-hundred thousand of them, 90,000 in the center, Betan, in the center where the earthquake was.  Probably all 90,000 perished, maybe up to -- more than 10 percent, maybe -- some people are saying almost half their population.  Nobody had hardly ever heard of this group before.

So the diversity that is in China today I think is something that is really overwhelming people so that when we talk about Muslims in China, we can't just talk about Muslims.  We have to talk about Ouigers versus Hui versus some very poor and very uneducated Muslims in that region of Ching-Hai, Gonsu who are the most patriotic, the least rebellious.

And normally we think Muslims are driven -- and I think the Chinese state erors on this situation.  They think that that Ouigers are rebellious because they're not well educated, they're not well developed.  But the least developed Muslims in China are probably the Dongsheng, the Bao'an, the Salah in this Gungsu, Ching-Hai region, these former traders.  They're very patriotic, very well integrated in the Chinese -- they speak this weird Turkic-Mongolian language.  But they are extremely well integrated into the broader, multiethnic, multicultural Chinese mainstream.

WORDEN:  And now I think we can go to the audience.  We'll start back here.  Just identify yourself and your organization.  Stand up, if you will.

FENGGANG YANG:  Yeah, this is Fenggang Yang.  I'm from Purdue University.  Just some questions.  Birst a question for Professor Barnett about Tibetan and Tibetan Buddhism.  What do you think about the Chinese government's pouring hundreds or sometimes millions or even billions of yuan to restore, renovate those temples in the Tibetan areas?

Second is what do you think about the popular appeal of Tibetan Buddhism in eastern part of China?  Because in some urban areas, I find many people like Tibetan Buddhism and practice Tibetan Buddhism.  These are the people -- these are the Han people, not Tibetan people.

Third question is during the March riots in Lhasa not only Han businesses were affected, I think also some Muslim businesses were affected in Lhasa.  And there are Muslims in Tibet and also Christians, both Catholics and Protestants.  What's the attitude toward the Christian evangelism in Tibet?  What's the government's attitude, the local government, and what's the attitude of the Dalai Lama?

For Professor Dru Gladney, would you talk about -- I know, because this is a rare occasion to get some information.  I have been fascinated by those, but really want to learn.  And for the 10 acting minorities who are considered Muslim -- but you said there are some non-practicing.  Do you have a sense of the proportion of people who do not practice Islam among the 10 acting minorities, especially the Hui minority.

And also the question about evangelism, Christian evangelism in Xingjian.  What do you know about that, and what you can tell about that?  Thank you.

WORDEN:  Thank you.

NEDOSTUP:  You'll go first, Robby.  (Laughter.)

BARNETT:  Thank you so much.  Firstly, the Chinese government has poured huge amounts of money into restoring temples in Tibet, but it's basically a very small number of temples that are national monuments, the fatallah (ph) and so on.  But a couple of -- three have been put on UNESCO World Heritage site.  So a lot of money.

This is the phenomenon we have to bear in mind all the time about China.  There's never a China that tries to eliminate something or completely wipe out something.  It always has a carrot in one hand and a stick in the other.  It always has an incentive policy for that category and an elimination policy for that category.  And what's so tragic on the Tibet issue is the Chinese have moved the Dalai Lama from this side to that side.  They can't talk to the one person who can really very easily resolve their problem really very, very quickly because they're put in that eliminate category, the enemy category rather than the united front category.

When they're thinking about that category, they spend money on temples.  They don't spend money on local temples.  There's -- bout 3(thousand) 4,000 monasteries have been rebuilt in Tibet, probably 90 percent of them at a guess are entirely private, local money.  But they do -- the Chinese does national, big symbolic kinds of religion.  It has a -- unfortunately, it creates a notion of state folkloric practices with its money spending, not very evenly distributed.  But it's a very positive thing.

Now, popular appeal of Tibetan Buddhism -- wonderful point.  Huge increase in fascination and devotion, real devotion to Tibetan Buddhism among Chinese, not just Taiwan, but -- not just East Coast, but across middle class China, this is a massive phenomenon of devotion, a massive source of funds, very, very important.  There was -- a major monastery was basically wiped out about five years ago because it had 800 Chinese monks up in Liugong, Szechuan.  Basically that monastery is completely reassembled now very quietly in the last couple of years.

WORDEN:  Robby, has that been affected by the backlash after the -- the nationalist backlash after the protests in March?

BARNETT:  I was just going to say I have no idea.  I think you will find that Buddhism amongst Chinese completely survives the nationalist backlash because Buddhism is a non-centralized religion.  It is not a church.  It's a mass of thousands of little groupings each around their own lama.  So each lama will skillfully take their flock around that issue, will perhaps politely separate themselves from political issues, and the Chinese followers will be able to say this is different.  My lama is different from the Dalai Lama or something like that.  So I think it won't make a difference.

This is a huge resurgence of 1930s interest in Tibetan Buddhism that was cultivated by the Republicans in the 1930s.  The Panchen Lama gave teachings to 35,000 people in 1934, something like that, in I think Shanghai, was it?  Greg Tuttle, my colleague at Columbia, has written a wonderful book about this.  So this is, again, a historical re-emergence.

The Hui attacks -- yes, they're -- not just this time.  There were attacks on the Hui by Tibetans on March 14th.  This is a recurrent phenomenon.  You know, when you read the Chinese press saying oh, these Tibetans now they're so violent and this is because of the Dalai Lama or something, or when you read Westerners saying oh, this is so shocking, there must be a new climate in Tibetan politics or Tibetan attitudes, this is completely wrong.  There have been dozens of riots in Tibet in the last 20 years against Hui Muslims.  They're always started by rumors of pollution, you know, that somebody's food has been polluted or the water supply has been polluted.  A lot of antagonism.  Historically, it comes from 1930s, 1920s wars between the two communities and so on.  This has continued.

And I just want to say that when we look at Tibetan violence, when it's about race, it's really very typical in situations where you have very, very rapid demographic change in a small space.  And lastly, the Christians, the evangelists -- 90 percent of the Westerners working in Tibetan areas probably are hardcore fundamentalist Christian evangelists, many of them from America.  They're very, very much regarded with suspicion by other Westerners because many of them do have an agenda, which is to destroy Tibetan culture, although they will disagree with that.  They will say they respect the culture.  They only want to replace the religion.

They basically have been entirely supported by the Chinese state, and for the last few months there's been a slight change.  All the foreign language teachers in the TAR are necessarily members of an evangelical born again movement.  They're very nice people.  I work with them and know them.

But Tibetans all accept them wonderfully initially because they discover they like religion.  They think that's wonderful.  And later on they get -- when they get to the stage of serious converting, then some animosity arrives.  We're sort of still in that stage.

GLADNEY:  But they're cheap.  I mean, I would say 99 percent of the foreign workers in Xingjian -- and I had read something, like about 400 -- this is a large number -- are probably evangelical Christians, a large group of Koreans in South Korea.  Particularly in Central Asia the numbers go way up.  But now I'm just talking about Xingjian.

And I don't think it's really -- again, it's like the migration issue.  It's not so much that the Chinese government is sending Han and other workers into the region.  They're attracted.  There are opportunities there for the poor as well as for these teachers.  They need foreign skilled labor, and they're cheap and they're clean.  These Christian teachers -- they don't take drugs.  They don't sleep with the students, they're reliable, they show up to work on time, and they get support from the outside.  So they're cheap.

And so I think it's not as if there's some devious plot to -- in fact, there could be an argument to say that the Chinese government policy towards nationalities has done more to preserve culture than to eradicate it.  China is the only government in the world that I know that spends millions -- (inaudible) -- dollars to translate documents, to create languages, ethnic languages that didn't exist, to have bilingual, multilingual publications, to allow second and third language education at the elementary school level.  In places like Xingjian, it's not just Ouiger and Chinese, but you have Kazakh.  You have Kyrgyz.  You have a lot of other languages that are being actively taught, and publications, newspapers, radio broadcasts, television shows.

So China's government policy is I think somewhat conflicted on this issue.  On the one hand, there's a lot of preservation and a lot of energy devoted to that.  On the other hand, there has to be, you know, a recognition that China very much wants integration.

So when groups are thought to be threatening, then they will -- the strength of the state will come to bear so that you do see overflowing mosques and young boys studying Islam in the madrassa, often state-funded madrassa, in interior China.  But you go to Xingjian and you don't see that because the government's very strict.  And so these loose rules about religion are sometimes more applied in areas such as perhaps the autonomous region and Muslim areas as opposed to the non-autonomous regions where there are Muslims, such as Gonsu and Ching-Hai.

And I think also the comment about secularism and Islam, non-practicing Muslims -- I think sometimes that's often generational or regional.  You know, urban Muslims tend to be more secularist.  But I've found that, you know, like in many of these, you know, religious populations as they get closer to, you know, thinking about the future or when there are great events, like funerals or marriages, then religion will come out.

And religion is I think -- we have to think about -- among Muslims in China as ethno-religious.  It's part of their identity.  It's part of their cultural background.  So even if you have Communist Party members who are Hui or Ouigers, you know, they will make all of these sort of atheistic statements and sign the documents in public, but in a private persona you might see that, well, they won't eat pork, or they will be very, you know, well versed in the religious traditions, such as weddings and funerals, et cetera.

So I don't know that we can actually -- and I think Mayfair Yang's book that -- and part of what I was involved with as well -- the notion of Chinese religiosity.  It's not so much religion as much -- you know, institutionalized religions, though we have them, but it's the awareness of ritual and private practice and the appeal of the richness of religious practice that is not just for Muslims or Buddhists, but it's for -- in popular religion in China, pervasive in Chinese society as well.

WORDEN:  So we're going to go in the back here.  Moira Moynahan.

QUESTIONER:  My name is Moira Moynahan, and I'm the executive producer of the documentary about Paldon Gyatso's life and his -- called "Fire Under the Snow," his 33 years in a Chinese labor camp in prison.  And I know that since March 14th, when riots exploded in Tibet that the Chinese government has accelerated arrests, torture, deportation of Tibetans with particular persecution meted out to the Buddhist clergy there.

And as China approaches the Olympic Games and gets set to host this enormous international gathering in August, it appears to be tightening security grip around tourists and journalists who will be coming for the Games as it continues the crackdown in Tibet.  So I'd like to ask the panel what they predict or foresee may happen with the Olympics as the international spotlight beams on Tibet.

WORDEN:  Any many other parts of China, yes.  We'll perhaps start with Robby and then move along to the other panelists.

BARNETT:  Thank you very much.  I suppose we're in one of those classic situations where Chinese Marxists and Chinese analysts teach us to think about contradictions.  (Scattered laughter.)  And this is a situation where contradictions are going to manifest.  And it's a very interesting one because I have -- I don't like to -- I don't want to be patronizing at all, but I think there is another historical problem for China, which is China has become used to -- and by China I mean the central leadership, you know, recognizing your point about the distinctions within the state -- but China's become used to the idea of the symbolic ritual event, a kind of -- I don't -- it's not a state religion, but this huge importance in the way the Communist Party organizes social life and history around major events -- anniversaries, festivals and so on.  And this is the biggest one of all perhaps since -- I don't know -- 1959 10th anniversary of liberation.

Now, of course, in the Chinese climate those were managed.  You could contain every form of input and output and so on that happened with these, and the Olympics, of course -- China's discovering you can't manage, the way it's experienced, the way it's understood.  The symbolism of the Olympics is in freefall.  And that's very difficult for China.  As they try to manage that, they're going to have to live with the difference or the different interpretations.

And the problem for China is will it overreact to the protests that will happen?  Will it crush those in full view?  Will it stop people seeing them and produce more contradictions that a benevolent, modern state that crushes its protests?

Well, I'm very interested in something that Han Donfang has been saying for a couple of years, which is the problem for the Olympics won't be what we'll think, you know -- will Falun Gong -- they're keeping very carefully quiet on this.  (Inaudible) -- keeping quiet.  Tibetans -- not much involved in Olympics except for the exiles.  The problem he's saying will be the petitioners, the letters and petition people, Chinese people often from the countryside who for years and years have deep, unanswered grievances about their personal lives and so on who will try to get to Beijing or other cities and join this occasion.  That could be much more --

WORDEN:  And I should say the petitioners have a legal right to petition the state that dates back to ancient times, but the petitioners' village that at one point numbered 10,000 people in Beijing -- the final remnants of that were cleared out last September.  So they've been dispersed, but these are people who have dedicated their lives to settling their grievances.

Rebecca, do you have any thoughts about this?

NEDOSTUP:  Well, picking up on this -- I think this is one area in which the earthquake has really sort of changed the game or opened up this -- the question of sort of ritual or civil ritual in a completely new way.  And I'm thinking of the moment of silence or the non-silent moment of silence because, you know, of course, it was met by so many car horns all over China.

But it was observed so widely, and -- you know, I wasn't in China at the time, but I knew a lot of people who were and wrote extremely moving accounts of it.  And this is a case where all the stage management of -- that the state could do in a sense didn't really matter because people were really joining into this in a very sincere way.

And this to me is much more significant than any kind of reinvention of Confucianism and Gonggi, and, you know, sort of Confucian ceremony that could go on because I know that the state tried to do that in the 1930s and it didn't go over very well.  And I'm not very convinced that any attempt to do that -- you know, however many times they go to the Yellow Emperor's tomb, that's always going to be a stage managed sort of thing.

But this is something different.  And the -- because it's also backed up with genuine acts of contributing and donating blood and donating money and people leaving their jobs for a week or a month or more to go to Szechuan.

So there is something else going on here, and it may be a little bit tied to the Olympics, but it may be something else entirely.  So that's what sort of I'm keeping my eye on.  And it seems to have deflected a lot of this -- the nationalist rhetoric that developed after the torch protests.

WORDEN:  I'd just make one quick comment that as you watch this civil ritual of the Olympics in China unfold, pay attention to what an enormously public and important role the ethnic minorities will play in this ritual.  They'll be forefront in the -- front and center.  And Tibetans are often almost in the very front.

And I think -- you know, it's important to realize how important multinationalism, multiculturalism is to China because it sends a signal to the entire country and the world that China is a united place, that it's brought all of these different cultures together.  It's not monolithic.  It's not monocultural.

There is somewhat a contradiction there as well, because on the one hand, China wants to bring its country together.  On the other hand, it also wants to preserve these differences and showcase them, but only certain kinds of differences.  In other words, there are many differences that are masked by those 56 minority nationalities and one great majority, the Han Chinese.

But, you know, China has much to be proud of that it's going to be celebrating.  And it'll be -- you know, what's fascinating is that many of these minorities are equally proud of their country.  I remember sitting in a cafe in Xingjian with some Ouigers, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbek students who had been involved with a research project over the summer, and we were celebrating around a big hot pot, lamb hot pot.  There was lots of beer there, though these were Muslims.  They were over 21.  And there was a lot of celebration at our table, but there was a lot of complaints about government policy and everybody -- you know, academics when they get together, they tend to complain a lot.

And then suddenly there was a celebration out in the street, and it was May 12th, and they had just nominated Beijing -- Beijing had just won the Olympics.  And these students from many different ethnic Muslim backgrounds were just out in the street as happy as anyone, thrilled for their country.

And I think what Americans can't understand is that when we criticize China on issues such as Tibet or its treatment of its Muslims, Chinese think that we're trying to drag that country down, we're trying to keep them back, hold them back.  It's not that we're that concerned about human rights issues.  It's that we really don't want to see China succeed, and we don't -- and we, you know, think China's a threat, things like that.

And I think what we fail to realize is that the Chinese have the right to celebrate, that many of these minority groups will be celebrating, and it'll be a tremendous civic ritual event.  At the same time, you know, China won't be able to manage the criticisms that will come out, the many, many layers of issues, the difficult issues, the challenges China has ahead of itself to continue with this pace of development and satisfy the many complaints that its population has.

WORDEN:  And I was given a few minutes to run over. The -- you know, we've walked right up to the beginning of the Olympics.  I'd like to ask in closing for each of you to give us your view of what will happen after the pressure is off from the Olympics.  You know, what is the likely scenario, you know, for China after this year of very momentous events, some anticipated, some not anticipated?  You know, what is the scenario?  Will things get tighter perhaps in some of the ethnic regions, or will there be a collective national sigh of relief?  Is it possible, then, to return to the general track of reform that we've seen over the last 30 years?  And why don't we start again on the end with Robby?

BARNETT:  Well, of course, I don't know what's going to happen, but it's very interesting to see how constantly everybody on every side of the picture is changing.  You know, suddenly we have Chinese people on the Internet suddenly taking up the Tibet issue and defending their government, although the week before they were critics of their government.  We have the Chinese government, you know, that is talking with the Dalai Lama's people on one side and attacking them on the other.

We have American policy, has actually been very gentle on China during the Tibet issues and less so than in Europe and lots of changes.  We had a remarkable moment during the Tibet issues when all the European governments and much of the West was pretty unified in criticizing China.  These things are changing all the time.

And one of the changes that's happening, which is really interesting and is a result of -- perhaps of the earthquake, but not just -- is people outside learning how to play the Chinese song, how to listen to what China wants to hear without becoming panda huggers.  (Laughter)  And this is a new kind of appeal that comes out of this Chinese nationalism, which is be nice to us. Differentiate in your criticism.

And I notice how the earthquake has led to this.  I mentioned it earlier.  A lot of Tibetans doing prayers for victims, the Dalai Lama insisting that people not stage any anti-China protests during much of May, giving a $50,000 donation to the International Red Cross.

This is very interesting because this is learning to differentiate between your politics and your alliances if you like, to say we like you Chinese people.  We sympathize with this and that.  We just disagree about that thing.  American government trying to do this as well, different groups trying to do this.

I think the Olympics will be an opportunity where we'll see people trying to learn that new way of differentiating their criticisms, trying to find ways to talk to China and Chinese people in a more nuanced way.  And I think that will come -- the same thing will happen with Chinese people talking to the West saying, well, we recognize this is wrong, but on the other hand, this works for us.  So I think that could be a positive outcome here.

WORDEN:  Rebecca.

NEDOSTUP:  Well, I think that there is probably two levels going on.  One may just keep on percolating the way that it's always been and one may change a bit.  The one that may keep on percolating the way it's always been -- I'm not so sure it's necessarily been affected by any of the Olympics -- is the level of local religion.  And that really hasn't come up that -- it came up a little bit in the first session, hasn't really come up too much in this session.

Because the question of how that is affected by state regulation is a very good one because it's not one of, you know, the five religions.  This is a question -- there has been a question that has come and gone with state authorities of whether it should be made a state religion.  It seems to have gone pretty much in the last couple of years.  And so -- but it's flourished and flourished largely through the contributions of entrepreneurs, especially local entrepreneurs, have poured a lot of money into local religion.

And that, I think, may just keep on going the way it has been.  There may be a question after the Olympics of whether or not the government now has a little bit more breathing space to revisit this issue.  But, again, that may just continue on as it always has been.  The issue that really have seemed to come to the fore with the Olympics and the earthquake is the state's contact with international religious groups.  And now, you know -- and especially intra-Asia religious groups as well as sort of East-West contacts.  And that's especially come out in the past few months with these contacts with religious charities from other parts of Asia.  And I think that those dialogues may well increase after the Olympics.

BARNETT:  Well, I think it depends on how many gold medals China wins.  (Laughter.)  And not just on the playing field, but also I think in terms of world recognition for its management of such a global event.

China, I think, is now on a world stage like never before, and it's shifting the way we see the world.  And I'm hoping that it shifts the way we see China, that there'll be great awareness and that China itself will be a more secure state, a more open society.  And that I think will be good for its marginal peoples.

China is very insecure on issues such as religion, it's very afraid of some of these religious movements so that as a state itself, having a secular background -- I mean, when we talk about religion in China, we talk about religiosity.  There's a lot of religion going on.  But who manages the state?  It's a state bureaucracy.

And who are those people?  Most of those people came up through a very secularist, atheist educational system.  They never had Introduction to Christianity 101.  They (laughs) never had any training on religion, these state bureaucrats.  And they're often very afraid of what they can't understand.

Why are people so motivated by Tibetan Buddhism?  What is the appeal of Christianity?  What is the strength of Islam?  Why don't, you know, people listen to someone like, you know, Al-Zawahiri?  Why don't Ouigers -- why are they interested in Wahhabism?  Why is conservative Islam attractive to young, modern, educated Ouiger professionals?  What is attractive about that?  That's very threatening to an insecure government.

Now, if China, I think, becomes -- recognizes that it is a very secure state; no one's threatening China in terms of armies on its borders.  Many people want to see China succeed, but also be a responsible stakeholder in the world, not just with its own population in terms of human rights, but also on the environmental issues that affect the entire globe.  And I think -- I hope that if China does well with the Olympics -- and many gold medals, not just on the playing field -- that it will lead to a more open, more secure China that will be good for Chinese, not just Han Chinese, but all Chinese citizens as well as global citizens.

WORDEN:   Well, thank you to our speakers.  We've run a little bit over, so we'll have a very short break before convening for Session three.  And thank you all for helping us with such a fascinating -- (applause).

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

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This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

SUSAN ROOSEVELT WELD: Let's start the next session. I'm very sorry, I just think -- we, unfortunately, have been left with a little less time than we had planned, and so I want to make sure that all our wonderful speakers will have a chance to give us their views about what's going on with religion in China and the future of religion in China.

And this is the third panel, and it's really one of the most -- I think the most exciting of the three panels. It's not the adversarial side of the state and religion, but it's what religion can do in future, and maybe has done already, in building China's economic growth, China's civil society, building a new social welfare system at the grassroots, and coping with the significant kinds of discontent and unrest that have been plaguing the Chinese countryside for the last several decades -- couple of decades anyway.

So I get to introduce to you our three speakers. And the first one I'm going to introduce is Adam Chau, who I first came to know of through a great paper he wrote about the word condemned in Chinese which were being painted on houses in different parts of the cities of China as the great construction projects go on. And he's now gone on to write a book -- a wonderful book, and now he's soon to be working at the University of London, lecturer on the sociology of China.

ADAM YUET CHAU: Anthropology. Anthropology of China.

WELD: Anthropology of China. And the next job is going to be university lecturer in the Anthropology of Modern China, in the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Cambridge. So, welcome to you, Adam.

And we also have Richard Madsen, famous to us all as being one of the authors of "Habits of the Heart," who wrote about -- who writes about both modern U.S. society and sociology, and China. , luckily, for all of us here -- has written some of them most exciting things I've read on the topic recently.

And Bob Weller -- all these people, the bios are in the books, so you can read the things which are a little bit more organized than what I'm telling you now. But I had Bob come down and talk at the Congressional Executive Commission on China when I was down there, being its general counsel.

The Commission was looking at religion in China in for the reasons that you all can imagine. It works on human rights, and it works on the rule of law in China. And Congress runs it. It has eight senators and eight representatives, and they're interested in certain aspects of Chinese life.

And religion is -- at the time, at the present, I think at the time -- this present time in the U.S. religion is a very important and growing phenomenon too. So they wanted us to look at religion in China, and we did do as good a job as we could with the help of experts such as Bob Weller.

So I'm going to start out right now with what our experts here have to say on the future of Chinese religion and the growth of civil society and economic growth in China. I do want to say one thing is that we've been hearing -- in the last panel especially, sorts of adversarial things about the government, the state and religion.

And it really is not a new thing. It goes back throughout Chinese history, as we've heard from different historians -- I'm a historian, and I do want to say that famous phrase from Gu Yanwu who talks about why the state worries about religion, why the state worries about religious beliefs and superstitions.

And he says that, "When people orient themselves to the spirits excessively, they do not respond to the state's iron tools of punishment, so the state really feels a lapse in its ability to control the populations." And I just think that's maybe the same worry that the current government has.

Here I go. I'm going to start out with you, Bob. I'd love to hear whatever you have to say on this topic, but what I'm especially curious about is the comparison with the liberalization of rules on religion in Taiwan, and that which may occur in Mainland China -- whether or not China can go that same route; whether -- this is also for you, Dick, whether the existing religions, especially Buddhism can develop the social welfare organizations as fantastic and strong as -- (background noise) -- has in Taiwan, especially since, as we learned from the earlier panel that organization has really been a huge help in the earthquake.

And Adam's work is grassroots work in Shaanxi Province, on how a local temple was able to build up itself again and become relevant to the community. I want to know all about that, both economic and civil society aspects.

So, Bob, can I start with you. I don't think I've asked you all the different questions we talked about, but anything you have to say I would love to hear.

ROBERT WELLER: All right, so let me say a bit about the liberalization of policy toward religion in Taiwan, and what, if anything, that means for the People's Republic of China.

So, things changed quite a bit in Taiwan after democratization, that is after 1987. Before that, the policy toward religion in Taiwan was, in many ways, the inheritance of the earlier nationalist party rule in China -- that Rebecca Nedostup, in her professional work, writes about quite a bit, and she talked about a little bit today -- that is it's a policy that already was seeing religion as something superstitious, that had to be put up with; Christianity as maybe okay because it went with the West, but even that not particularly welcomed; and folk religion simply as some feudal remnant and embarrassing superstitious thing, that it would be nice if it disappeared but we can't quite get rid of it.

So they come to Taiwan in 1945 -- after the Japanese leave, after 50 years of occupation, and they immediately start propaganda campaigns against popular religion, and they immediately create national level organizations to deal with the Daoists and the Buddhists. So, I shouldn't say "create," because they're continuing Mainland Chinese policies from earlier in the century.

It's not very different from the situation in China right now. That is, there's not any legal position for most local temple religion, and yet, in practice, it's more or less tolerated in what Yang Fenggang has called the gray, the "gray market" for Chinese religion -- not exactly illegal, but not really legal -- tolerated.

So they did that. Buddhists were organizing the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China; Daoists in a similar one. Just Christians were a rather -- for historical reasons, rather separately organized. But because the Presbyterian church -- by far the largest in Taiwan, became rather closely tied to Taiwan independence politics, there was a lot of tension at that end as well.

So that's the situation. There's no cultural revolution, but in many ways it does -- it looks again like 1950s kind of PRC policy, which is also the inheritor of this earlier 20th century world change in attitude that Rebecca had talked about.

What happens in 1987, if it's democratic you need to go where the voters are, and that's the temples. You know, what are the social ties that tie a rural community together in a Chinese society? Their kinship and their temples. Those are the two main things.

So, every politician started showing up in temples -- mainlander politicians with no ties to traditional Taiwanese religion, like Ma Ying-jeou, the new president -- these guys show up in temples. They all show up in temples. A totally different attitude occurs toward local religion at that point.

So what does any of this mean for China? Are we, at some point, going to get a totally new attitude? And I'd say, you know, the first lesson of Taiwan is you can be an authoritarian government, allow a certain kind of religious civil society to exist, but keep it under control. And you can go on like that for a long, long time.

That's the first lesson of Taiwan. It's not that Taiwan democratized, it's that you can rule pretty successfully in this corporatist kind of structure that China has right now, and that Taiwan had for many decades before it finally did democratize.

The second thing, though, is there are all kinds of resources that exist in the entire religious panorama of China -- that others have already talked about, that are really important, I think, in the process of democratization. I do not think they created democratization, but I do think they're crucial to the ability to adapt to it.

Mayfair earlier said something nice about -- you know, democracy, simply declared from on high, is never really going to be democracy. Something has to grow up from the bottom. And in Taiwan's case, part of what that was was all these local resources that existed, partly because of the religious experience of people.

So, I think it's important -- it's important, therefore, that China is tolerating this kind of religiosity again, but it's not a guarantee of any particular kind of future change I don't think.

WELD: Thank you very much.

Dick.

RICHARD MADSEN: Well, in Taiwan, as was mentioned, one of the most fascinating things in the last 20 years, since they made this transition to democracy after 1987, was this explosion of religiosity -- organized religiosity among the emerging middle classes.

Taiwan's always been awash in religion, local folk religion, and so forth, but what I found interesting -- I wrote this little book about it recently -- was that there was an enormous kind of explosion, a very well organized religion among these emerging middle classes, people you would've thought would have sort of given up on religion as they left the villages, and got a secular education, and so forth.

And one of the groups, of course, was this group that you mentioned, Tzu Chi, the Buddhist Compassion Relief Association. But there are others. There's, like, the Buddha's Light Mountain; there's the Dharma Drum Mountain; and there's other groups like this -- mostly Buddhist, some Daoist too.

One religious group that's actually declined in Taiwan, in significance and energy, has been the Christians. And I argue one reason was that they were actually privileged during this era of repression, partly because of the Cold War. They couldn't afford to antagonize Christians. So many people in the old China lobby were, you know, Christian missionaries and so forth.

So the Christians were able to have universities -- Donghua University, you know, in Taiyuan; Fu Jen University, the Catholic university in Taipei, and things like that. The Buddhists, Daoists, never -- never allowed that kind of stuff. They wanted to decapitate these religious intellectually. They don't want it. You know, the folk religion was okay -- local level, keep it dispersed; and no large lay organizations and so forth.

So now what's exploded are these groups -- since 1987, which are, have large lay organizations, and do all sorts of this kind of work. The Tzu Chi organization has -- it claims about, I think, 4 million members, defined as "lay people," who donate some money regularly every month. At the core, it's only about 100 nuns in this, in this monastery in Hualien.

The Buddha's Light Mountain has about 1,300 -- maybe less than 2,000 monks and nuns, but then also lay organizations millions of people strong. Dharma Drum Mountain the same. And these groups have been engaged in all sorts of works of charity of various kinds, and all going global. So they give out charity to China -- for instance, in the earthquake, and they were one of the first people who went there.

But, they've also been around the world. The Tzu Chi, for instance, you know, in 1991 went global. And it's part of their spiritual cultivation. It's -- the way they understand it is, you have to expand people's hearts.

And it's sort of similar, it's like Buddhist meditation where you have to learn how to sit in this lotus position, and it really hurts. And the way in which you reach that center of, you know, contemplation is you fight through the pain until you don't feel anymore and, you know, and you get this kind of -- Well, the same thing with charity. What you have to do is reach out to people who are different, not the people you normally like. And reach out and stretch yourself, and keep pushing and then we'll expand your heart.

And so they've been giving aid to Mainland China -- Tzu Chi, for instance, since 1991 -- (audio break) -- all throughout Southeast Asia, places like Bangladesh, Rwanda, Kosovo, even helped rebuild a hospital in Fallujah in Iraq. And here, of course, too, when they helped some of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks, for example, and also Hurricane Katrina, and elsewhere.

So there's an issue of, kind of, helping people around the world, expanding your heart in that way. And the other groups have done similar things. And so it's quite remarkable that this happened. And what I argue, at least partially, is that this has been conducive to the development of democracy -- even though it's non-political, in a fortuitous way, because in lots of places in the world religion -- new religious movements can have a very negative effect. Basically, religion, you know, can do very good things, wonderful tings, but in other places it's like pouring gasoline on fires of ethnic resentment and local, you know, anger and so forth.

In Taiwan, the net effect of this, though, was sort of the opposite. It cooled down certain kinds of ethnic divisions, of course, which are very important in Taiwan. It kind of builds bridges, and so forth, over in the mainland. And so it had that kind of positive effect, which I think was useful in helping to consolidate this very fragile democracy you have in Taiwan, which is always -- seems on the verge of chaos, but has somehow held together.

WELD: Thank you very much.

Now Adam, can you tell us a little of your initial investigations in Shaanxi and the rebuilding of the temple structure there?

CHAU: Yes. In the mid to late 1990s, I conducted field work in northern Shaanxi Province, which is close to Inner Mongolia, between Xian and Baotou in Inner Mongolia. And, basically, it was -- I studied the revival of a temple called the Black Dragon Temple. And as, basically, hundreds of thousands of other temples in China, they were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the -- around 1964, the Socialist Education campaign, and then during the Cultural Revolution.

But a lot of them, in some ways, at least, have been revived in the '80s, '90s, and these include cults devoted to dragon kings, fertility goddesses, immortals and other kinds of deities. Some of them have spirit mediums that can speak in the gods' voices. Some do not have them -- but all of them have regular celebrations, temple festivals and set out to garner the social forces of local communities.

Rebecca mentioned earlier these are the religious observances, or religiosities that are not recognized by the state as religion, but rather superstitious activities. So most of them actually are, in theory, illegal. So, the police is supposed to actually crack down on these activities. But in the '80s and '90s, we increasingly see that, in most parts of China, these crackdowns are very, very rare because local police are, basically, siding with the people.

In fact, they're not only not cracking down but helping the maintain law and order when there is a temple festival, because they get a lot of benefits from temple festivals as well, in terms of income. So in my case, the Black Dragon King Temple boss, Lao Wang regularly sponsored the local police station's, say upgrading their gear -- (laughter). And whenever they visit to help with temple festivals, they would, you know, house them in the back dormitory, and wine and dine them, and make sure they're happy before they leave.

So, there's a, sort of, symbiotic relationship now developing between local cults and local state. And Rebecca mentioned earlier that we should distinguish the central government that, really far away, have these directives that, when they arrive at the local level are rarely implemented fully, especially when they're relating to religious policies.

And I guess some of your -- some of the audience might wonder, this kind of local religion -- you know, spirit mediumism, temple festivals, drawing divination lots, what foreign policy relevance might these have? But I just want to remind us that actually the -- Taiping Rebellion, for example, in the 19th century, even though it was largely Christian inspired, but it has actually incorporated a lot of local religion -- popular religious elements. And the Boxer Rebellion, of course, had enormous input from opera tradition in North China plains and popular religious sentiments.

And then even the current -- excuse me, Falun Gong has a lot of folk religious elements, for example, possession by animal spirits, and things like that. So, I think a lot of times we -- there are a lot of things happening. We don't really know what's going on in rural China because we haven't done a lot of empirical research. And it's only when things come to a head, where things happen, we realize, oh, that's an important thing. But we do not know enough of it. And I think -- so, I think we should keep a close eye on what's going on in rural China.

WELD: Do you think the state clearly worries about traditional religion as a possible source of conflict and instability? I mean, certainly their reaction to some of the Falun Gong -- their rhetoric of saying, follow the road of science, don't follow superstition and harm your body -- which is how they respond to the healing aspects of Falun Gong, and I presume to some of the healing aspects of other cults. Because they fear -- they fear, just what you have said, the Taiping Rebellion kinds of things starting up from that sort of context.

CHAU: Yeah, I personally don't know enough about the Falun Gong case. But in terms of these local folk religions, the state has been very tolerant because they are so locale-based, very dispersed and, in fact, some scholars work on the rural China, for example: after the collapse of the Maoist organizational mechanism, rural life is becoming very atomized and you can even say "sad." People go back home and watch TV, but there's no longer a collective spirit in many communities.

Where there is a temple or temple festival, that's where the social organizational spirit of the Chinese come to the fore. And I think the state probably appreciate this kind of grassroots social force -- that it enhances the communal spirit of local society.

MADSEN: I think this reminds me of Taiwan in the 1950s, and so forth. The old Nationalist party, just like the Communist Party, came from the so-called May Fourth era period, in early 20th century. And their project initially was, get rid of all this religion, this local religion. You know, this was pre-modern, and to get a modern state you've got to this thing out because it was basically -- that was reinforced localism, local village, local family, local corporate identity -- you had to take that out and replace it with modern ideology. And missionaries, people like Timothy Richard, at the end of the 19th century, total reformers. That's what you have to do, get rid of that. So, they destroyed these temples. They destroyed everything that basically was the basis for a local community and local meaning to create a modern society.

And by the '50s, because of the way in which the Guo Ming Dang took over Taiwan, they decided, well, we can't do that anymore, at least in Taiwan. And so in Taiwan they allowed this to flourish. And so China today is sort of back to, like, 1950s Taiwan, as far as the local religion is concerned I think.

WELD: They have, actually, their regulations on religious affairs, don't -- in terms, treat traditional religion. However, in Hunan Province there is a regulation -- a local regulation which allows for the, for the state to regulate traditional religion. And sorrowfully, they've put out regulations recently which are quite restrictive.

And they, for example, they only allow traditional religious entities to be built on sites which already have such a temple, or shrine, or something. They don't allow new ones to be founded. So at least in that province, their reaction's been restrictive.

WELLER: Yeah, I think that Hunan experiment was an interesting one, that two or three, four years ago was a point where I think we started getting a lot of ferment within Chinese government circles about what do we do about religion. Yang Fenggang, I think the point he wanted to end with was, there's not a single voice, there's actually, really a lot of discussion about what the inadequacies of the current policy are, and what do we do now.

And many things are possible. So for a local religion, one of the things on the table was let's have a sixth religion -- not Confucianism, but folk religion, meaning Tseng Sung Chao (ph) would become number six. And there was some experimentation, and I think the Hunan thing is one of those -- one of those experiments that was done with trying to treat popular religion as a religion.

Now, what would that mean to treat it as a religion? It means giving it certain rights. You do get to be a legally registered temple under certain circumstances. Hunan took a rather conservative position about what that was, but in some ways that was a radical improvement because it took any of this out of the realm of feudal superstition and gave it some legal protection.

On the other hand, you know, what's the downside of this entire thing? It's that once it's legal it's regulated. Government supervision becomes much, much stronger -- and that, we saw that really clearly in the Hunan thing.

I was in Shanghai just a few weeks ago and talking to some people about this, and they said, yeah, well, we're not really doing that anymore. And I don't -- how representative this was, I don't know. But I was told this sixth religion thing, we're probably not going in that direction. So, I think what we have there is an experiment which may not have any follow through.

Instead, the idea of the moment -- and, you know, will this work, I don't know -- the idea of the moment is to deal with local religion as an aspect of Chinese culture. And so to celebrate it -- to celebrate the Black Dragon God Temple, as, you know, the importance of dragons in Chinese culture; and when we throw our gigantic annual temple festival this is not superstitious worship of false spirits, but it's a celebration of the roots of China's great cultural tradition.

And this is not usual. We have temples now all over China, not registering as temples, which is quite hard to do, but registering as museums, for instance, or lineage halls, which are not legal organizations, registering as museums, or cultural showcases, or this kind of thing. So that seems to be the direction of the moment. But I would just reiterate what Fenggang said before, this is very much under discussion right now.

WELD: What does that do to the counts of the numbers of believers in China, if your temple is registered not as a religious site but a tourist site?

WELLER: Maybe some of the statistician-types in the audience might want to speak to this more. I'm deeply suspicious of all count of believers in China because some types of religion are easy to count. Christians tend to be easy to count because you're -- you know, you're out, but you've been baptized or you haven't been baptized.

What's a Buddhist? That's a very tough question. Is a Buddhist somebody who's taken certain vows, Bodhisattva vows? Well, yes, by some definitions. But by others, if you go to Taiwan and ask somebody on the street, are you a Buddhist, and they usually say, yes. And what they mean is, they burn incense twice a month to Modzu or Guangong or some local deity who's got nothing to do with Buddhism. In fact, the word in Taiwanese dialect, a god image is called "a Buddha," you know, whatever it's Buddhist connections may or may not be.

So, what's -- what's a Buddhist? And that even is clearer than this stuff that we don't even know how to name, right -- folk religion, local temple belief, whatever that is, believe, sort of, has nothing to do with that. So I've had people tell me, I don't have any religion -- I mean, no religion -- but I burn incense to spirits every day. Because for them religion is -- as Rebecca defined it, a thing with text, with priests, with an initiation rite like baptism that brings you in. They don't have any of that.

Instead, what they do is pay respect to spirits. And the word they use usually is Bai or Bai-Bai or something like that, which is also used in nonreligious terms to pay respects to a superior. I can pay respects to you -- and you don't know what I think, but I still paid respects by behaving in a certain kind of a way. So am I believer? You can't really answer that. It's an inappropriate question.

So, how do you count? You could do a more sophisticated questionnaire, and there are some that say, you know, have you burned incense for an ancestor in the last month, in the last year? (Laughter.) That's how you have to do it if you want to get at this local religiosity. Or through other areas, do you hire a geomancer to site your parents' coffin at a funeral? Those are the kinds of questions you have to ask. If you say, which religion do you believe in -- Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, none -- it's an -- it's a question that for many, many Chinese is almost impossible to answer.

WELD: Here is a question about the way religion can either affect someone as an individual or as part of the community. Religion can form the community to take in, to embrace individuals, or it can focus light on the individual, and the individuals can be using religion as its access to future life or good luck or whatever.

I'd like to start with you, Adam. In your -- in your experience in looking at local religion in Shaanxi, was that a religion focused on the individual, in any way, or can you parse it out in those terms?

CHAU: Right. I think the individual level definitely is important. I think, for example, each person going through life has like increment, or successive encounters with different spiritual forces. For example, it's only when, say, you have already had two daughters and you really desperately want the third child to be a son. That would bring you and your wife to the fertility goddess temple. And then you say it was successful. Then your relationship to this fertility goddess is sort of affirmed and established. And you will always go back and tell other people about the efficacy of this fertility goddess; whereas, if you didn't have that problem you probably would never have gone to this fertility goddess, even though it's in the neighborhood. So it's very individual and personal.

But, I think, more importantly, it is at the familial and the communal level, because I've tried to develop this notion of doing religion, which is that it's -- doing religion is not always about religiosity, or the spiritual, or -- but rather things that relate to a kind of religious practice or a religious life, including donating money to build a temple, or participating in a temple festival to help create a hustle-bustle atmosphere which bring testimony to the gods' efficacy.

And so just as if it would not be appropriate to ask a Chinese rural peasant whether, you know, you believe in the Black Dragon King, or the fertility goddess or Guangong, it's also inappropriate to restrict analysis of religion to the purely spiritual and, you know, mental relationship between deity and the person. Rather, you have to be much broadened.

And I also want to mention the economic aspect. I think for every one Chinese dollar donated to a Chinese church or mosque, there must be 10, 20 or 30 Chinese dollars used to hire a spirit medium, funeral specialist -- Buddhist or Daoist, or otherwise -- at a funeral; or buy incense money and things like that. So the economic impact of popular religion is actually quite big, even though it's often invisible because so much of this is transactional and are not, you know, revealed in any public accounting sense.

WELD: Thank you.

Dick, could you tell us your --

MADSEN: -- (inaudible.) Well, I think I would maybe make a distinction, like, a sociological one, between, sort of, embedded and disembedded religion, okay. The great philosopher Charles Taylor has talked a lot about this in his recent book on secularism.

And, basically, in most societies in most parts of the world, religion is totally embedded in social life. This is the way it was in the West during Medieval Europe, most of the time. That it's very difficult to make a distinction between belonging to a church, and belonging to your village, and belonging to your family -- it's all part of the same thing. And your economic life, and your social life, and religious life are really what -- are one of a piece. And so it's hard to say where one ends and one begins.

And, in many ways, that's what it's like in many of these Chinese local communities. And so that's why people are -- and vague about whether they're religious or not. They're social -- they're part of this community, and just part of it, and to give up their religion would be the same as leaving your family. And so you just can't do it.

This is even the case in the -- oh, I did a little book on these Catholics in China too, and local Catholic villages are like that too. Basically, being a member of the village was to be a Catholic. That's all there was to it.

And they made a distinction between lax Catholics and fervent Catholics -- "lax" may be never showing up for church, and living a moral life that, say, the pope wouldn't have approved of, or anything like that. But, they're still a Catholic, right, because when they die they're going to buried as a Catholic, because, you know, they have to get connected with their ancestors. And so this is connected with the whole fabric of life. That's one kind, is embedded religion.

And then there's a more "modern" kind, if you want to call it that, in the West, after the Reformation especially, where you're supposed to make a personal faith commitment to God. You know, you receive Jesus into your heart, and so forth, and so on, and join some congregation. So leave -- and that's a new kind. Now, that's a special kind that we haven't seen much in the world. And, to some degree, these Chinese -- modern Chinese groups are doing that too. So, you join the temple, you know.

And so this becomes an individual search for individual salvation -- disembedded. And one problem with this -- from the point of view of the Chinese government, is that this leads people to, kind of, maybe link up beyond their local community into wider and wider networks. And then when that happens you have potential for trouble because you have potential for some force opposite to the state.

And, for example, in the rural areas you have all these -- now these Christians, especially Pentecostals, linking up to all these networks ramifying throughout the whole rural area. This raises the specter of, you know, united rural action. And there's an enormous amount of conflict in the rural areas. You know, the government a few years ago, has a statistic of 85,000 incidents -- riots and so forth, local villages complaining about the local conditions.

They can handle that as long as each of them are isolated, or localized. But if there's any way of communicating, you know, horizontally, then your potential for major mass movement, and then you have a lot of trouble. And so that's why the government is so wary of these translocal kinds of groups, which you begin to get when you get a disembedded sort of religion.

WELD: Thank you.

We've been focusing, to a large degree, on the rural situations. However, I know that some of the churches in the cities are getting to be sizeable. In -- (inaudible) recent article, the title of that article, significantly enough, is "The Growth of Religion and Social Stability in China," so the impact of this huge growth of religion on social stability, which is what, of course, the government is worried about.

In that article he mentions churches which can sit 1,000 -- a congregation of 1,000 people near Luyang and not just one, but three or more such churches in that limited area. What's the difference in the function of those churches for China's future economic growth, and these little rural kinds of relatively localized -- and I shouldn't say "church," I should say "religious structures?"

Bob, let's start with you.

WELLER: You know, I don't work much on Christianity, so I hesitate to say. Of the, you know, the various sources of Christianity in China, the places that have been Catholic for 400 years -- you know, since the Jesuits and the Dominicans. There are places that have been Protestant for 150 years, you know -- were whole villages . That's -- so that's one source is just ancestral.

And there's more recent conversions. And those fall into several different sorts of categories I think. So there's the, kind of, stereotypical, marginal people at the edges of everything, and Christianity offers them a way out. There are people quite the opposite of that. They're intellectuals who really get interested in Christianity, sometimes as simply a moral system with the religiosity subtracted, or sometimes not. And there's probably everything in between. We don't have -- we still don't have the good sociology, or the good anthropology of really what's going on on the ground here. And so that's why I'm kind of hesitating, really, to answer this question. I don't know what the answer is.

The social cohesion one -- I mean, Yu Jianrong has put his finger on the crucial thing the government is worried about. So, even that you could say, maybe -- maybe -- Christianity, or Buddhism, or any of the others, could contribute to social cohesion, this is a rather new thought.

I forget who was saying -- Dru, maybe, in the last session, that, you know, we have this generation of cadres, which is not the older -- you know, the older one grew up with religion. This one grew up with atheism. So, it's not even if they've had no religious education -- which is how you phrased it, they had an anti-religious education. They know that it's stupid. It's embarrassing. It's superstitious. It's false. They know that.

So that, you know, there's this enormous thing to overcome. And even to have this on the table, even to have an argument made in a public forum by somebody at CASS -- a kind of major government think-tank really, that's significant. Even if, again, they go some completely different direction, it's on the table. Right now I think that's really significant.

MADSEN: Chinese intellectuals -- this goes way, way back -- don't think the Chinese people are truly religious. That's what they told the Jesuits 400 years ago. The Jesuits saw these Mandarin intellectuals, and the said, well, you know what, we're not religious, you know, we don't have religion here. And the Jesuits basically said, all right, they just have morality, no religion, so forth and so on when 99 percent of the people had -- worshipping in temples and everything else. And I've seen the same thing. I've been to China, I've been -- it's a very sophisticated people, on foreign policy and so forth, I think telling me absolutely sincerely, not cynically, that we don't have any religion here. (Laughs.) And I think they basically believe it, because that's their image of themselves.

So, there's blind spots that just don't have to do with the -- (background noise) -- education. And so it's a problem for intellectuals that want to be modern to just kind of wrap their minds around how you basically kind of come to grips with a society which all these other things are going on.

And I think they're confused. They're as confused as we are (laughs), not more.

WELD: I won't to pick on you right now because -- (scattered laughter.)

And for a large number of years now the local government's main mission has been to create economic growth. Does -- do local officials in any way connect their focus on economic growth, with the growth of religion? Is it a reasonable expectation, or is religion seem to be antithetical to that?

Anybody can answer.

WELLER: I'll -- I'll try to talk about that. Do they have -- do officials have that in mind?

WELD: Yeah.

WELLER: Mostly, no. And the exceptions are areas with large amounts of migration. So that you have, say, Fujian and Guangdong on the Southeast coast. You have had generations of people going abroad, and living abroad, but maintaining ties or hoping now to renew ties back home. For them -- and what brings these people back home? Relatives, yes. But the graves and ancestral halls of their ancestors, and the temples -- of which they have daughter temples in Singapore, or New York, or wherever they are.

So, they're coming back and those people have cash in their pockets, or they're perceived at least, to have cash in their pockets by the local officials. So, in those cases, mostly that Southeast coast, going up into the Hangzhou area, right, in those cases, yes, they see a direct connection between this renewal of a kind of overseas religious trade, and business opportunities.

In other areas I don't think they see a direct connection. But it's an important issue: is religion helpful or not helpful for economic development, right? We have a big literature on this right now around the world. So one of the explanations for the rapid expansion of Protestantism, especially evangelical Protestantism in, say, Latin America, is that it's a -- one that's led to a lot more market success for poor people than the Catholicism that they have been brought up with.

China is a different situation, though. And here I'd emphasize what others, especially in the first session already emphasized, it's a very low level of institutionalization of religion and, therefore, extremely flexible. That is, there are no blocks against economic behavior in their religion. Even -- there could have been. Confucianism is not friendly toward the merchants, right. Those were the lowest of classes.

But, go ask a Chinese person anywhere whether they buy that, even the ones reviving Confucianism, you're not going to hear that anymore. Instead, what you have is this very flexible popular religion, and pieces of it have magnified that are very comfortable with the market economy. Temples were run as corporations -- shareholding corporations, very often. The word Gongsu which means a company, a modern corporation, in modern Chinese originally meant "the group that ran a temple."

So that quality of shareholding, of contacts, which were typically associated with these kinds of things -- and every peasant household in China usually had contracts, land deeds, but also contracts for dividing the family property at the death of the parents, or something like that. There's a lot in this very embedded socio-religious tradition -- I hesitate to call it all religion, but in this "embedded thing," there is a lot there that fits really easily with the modern economy. And we see this in all Chinese communities that seem very comfortable with the modern economy.

WELD: Adam -- (inaudible).

CHAU: Yeah, I could add to that. I guess the general climate of commercialization and commoditization in China today really added vibrancy to China's religious development. For example, one study shows anybody now can just raise funds and then decide to build a temple.

It's -- it's basically a very simple matter. If you feel a particular Buddha has appeared in your dream, and then he or she wants a temple built in a particular locale, you raise the money and persuade the local villagers that, I want to build a temple to this deity. And if the villagers say, okay, you can do it. And then part of the funds can be used to hire resident temple cleric. And then a community of believers will develop around this.

Another study which shows, for example, a lot of the Wenzhou merchants -- you know, Wenzhou, of course, is famous for commercial activities, and, you know, a lot of merchants have gone down to basically every corner of China. But there are a lot of Christian bosses now in Wenzhou.

After they earn a lot of money they come back and built churches in Wenzhou and in rural areas, and then compete with each other in terms of, like, whose temple, or -- I mean, whose church is bigger. And this kind of local competitive spirit is not only in their business culture but also in their church building and temple festival culture. So I think the economic aspect is going to be increasingly important.

WELD: I didn't want to miss -- this is the last question which, actually I want- maybe I should ask you all to give -- to ask your questions first. And I can insert this final one if I have a chance. So let's have questions from the audience.

Mayfair?

QUESTIONER: Mayfair Yang. I'm Mayfair Yang, I spoke earlier in the first panel.

I'd like to pursue this question of religion and economic development because I think it hasn't been stressed enough and it's very important. I think it's a real tragedy of the 20th century Chinese intellectuals that they thought that in order to develop and modernize economically, that they must kill religion because religion they put into the category of backwardness and superstition and --

(Cross talk.)

QUESTIONER: -- and so forth because, actually if you look at the history of China, China had commercialization even much earlier than the West. It had a printing industry much earlier than the West. So what -- we can say that China had pre-modern capitalism in the Song Dynasty, that was the commercial revolution, that was the urban revolution in China. And it was also in the Song Dynasty that popular religion came to take the shape that it does now.

One can also say that, you know, the paper money, as legal tender, was invented in China in the Song Dynasty, that's about 1000 A.D. And previous to that, religious money, spirit money that is burned in offerings to the ancestors and to the gods, was invented before paper money as legal tender by 400 years. The earliest traces are about 400 years before the invention of paper money as legal tender.

So -- also if you look at the compass, the modern compass, another famous Chinese invention, that was originally invented and put immediately to religious uses in geomancy -- positioning gravesites -- before it came to be used as a geographical navigation instrument. So there's a huge, you know -- and then Chinese medicine has all these connections with Daoism -- our chemical traditions cultivations of the body.

So, it's, again, a very wrong assumption that 20th century Chinese intellectuals have that to have modern science and technology you have to kill religion; to have modern economic development you have to kill religion. So that -- you know, religion is tied up with economy and science in the past in China.

WELD: Does the panel have any -- do you agree, or what would you like to do?

MADSEN: I would agree. Incidentally, though, one kind of, you know, discourse, a way of talking about this, in Taiwan -- this may come into play in China now, is that these festivals, local festivals waste money. And they've been -- one way the Taiwan government controlled some local religion was to basically have rules against spending too much money on these local festivals.

So, there's a way of thinking that this pumps money into the economy, but spending all this money on these kind of things is money could better -- could be spent on, you know, economic capital, growth, and so forth and so on. Whether that's true or not is another issue, but I think they think that way.

WELLER: If I can expand on that one. My earliest days in Taiwan were the late 1970s, and this was the constant refrain: that it's a waste of money to raise pigs to offer to the god at New Years -- even though you're going to eat the pig later, it's a waste of money, it's unsanitary. It's a waste of money buying all this paper spirit money that you're just going to burn up. It's a waste of money -- well, it's all a waste of money.

What does that mean it's a waste of money? Somebody went to a market and bought the paper spirit money. Somebody made this paper spirit money in a factory and paid wages. What does that mean it's a waste of money? It really means the money is circulating in a very local side of the economy, rather than being taxed and going to the central government who's using it for some giant state-planned automotive industry, or something like that.

How has Taiwan thrived? Not through gigantic state-planned automotive companies. They tried things like that. It never worked out very well. It's "mom and pop" capitalism that really carried Taiwan. And a lot of the dynamism in China is "mom and pop" capitalism. A lot of the dynamism in overseas Chinese communities is "mom and pop" capitalism, quite different from, say, Korea or Japan.

And this sort of local religiosity, and the investment in local community circulation of money, is totally sensible, I think, within that kind of a framework, and appropriate for China.

WELD: Yes?

QUESTIONER: I'm Helena Kolenda with the Luce Foundation.

I had question related to this, sort of, embedded versus disembedded religion, and the impact of the one-child policy on that -- the likelihood of it. I recognize that you said there hasn't been a lot of sociological or anthropological research, but if people are not so embedded into a community or a familial structure, because there is only one child, their relationship to ancestors may shift and so on. Has there been any evidence of then a move toward the more disembedded forms of individual religion as a result?

MADSEN: I think in the countryside, first of all, they don't really have a one-child policy. People have more than one child, especially if the first one is a girl. So there are more children, and larger families than you might think. And I think in those rural areas you're seeing plenty -- not everywhere, but plenty of revival of this local religion, like you've been talking about.

I think in the cities it's more of an issue. And there I would maybe think that, you know, there's, there's a certain pressure on individuation -- of people, to kind of, find their own way. And, in so far as they want larger sources of meaning, I could see how certain kinds of religion would be attractive to them.

CHAU: Actually, I think a research project on the religiosity of the one-child -- I mean, the only children in urban areas of China would be a real interesting endeavor.

I actually want to relate this issue to the pursuit of sociality in urban China. Because of the increasing atomization of society, and also because of the one-child policy, increasingly children grow up without, you know, extensive kinship network.

I think that might be one of the reasons they are attracted to a Christian congregational type of religion, because of the -- these congregations can provide sociality and a sense of a collective purpose. It's not purely spiritual, but also social.

WELD: I just have a brief question having to do with, sort of, the actual -- how these religious, especially Christian religious groups might help the growth of the economy. People reach out to family, of course, for capital in China, generally, if they're starting an enterprise. Do they reach out to their fellow congregation members? Has anybody looked at that? Do they reach out to other people in the temple?

WELLER: I don't know of any studies of this in the PRC. There have been some -- a bit in Taiwan where, as Dick said, Christianity isn't in great shape, and so that hasn't been too big of a player. But temples, yes. But other semi- religious forms like "sworn brotherhoods," like these kinds of relationships, or friend -- formalized relationships of friends that always involve a god alter. Those are important in raising money, as kinship networks are also important. And that -- and kinship has the religious aspect of it too.

I'd just say an anthropological footnote to the one-child policy, it does really have big implications for the lineage because you can't be patrilineal if you have only one child, because then the mother's side -- because it's one grandchild for both the mother's side and the father's side. And you can't have somebody who's not worshipped by any descendent, so that kid is going to have to worship the mother's side as well as the father's side.

WELD: Yes?

QUESTIONER: Walter Mead, Council on Foreign Relations.

In addition to this, sort of, embedded, disembedded dichotomy, it seems to me there's another one for religion, which is sort of the ideologized versus non-ideologized. That is, a religion that's elaborated into a kind of a total explanatory framework. And it seems a lot of 20th century Chinese history has been about the intrusion of an ideology into a -- what was once a rather non-ideological society. That may not be right, I'd be interested to know.

And how -- it seems to me somehow that shocks, and change and uncertainty tend to force people toward a more ideologized approach to life. How are the changes sweeping through China now -- the economic changes, changes in real life, and so on, how are they affecting the balance between ideological visions of religion and non- ideological?

MADSEN: My sense is that religion is -- and so whatever problems may come from this ideologized vision of life, they're not coming from religious life in China. Religious life is very practical, it's very down-to-earth. Even historically, it's never been too big on systematic doctrines and so forth. And I think that's still basically the case today in China. The ideology -- ideologies of nationalists and so forth are what the problem is -- where the problem is, I think. And even traditional -- in my book, I mention this -- traditionally, this is the good in Chinese. They're always kind of relativistic and kind of flexible and so forth, not this big conflict between good and evil. So in the 20th century, when they develop -- talked about good and evil under Communism, that set up a whole new vocabulary basically for it, right; this kind of thing. So I think religion in China probably is maybe one of the things that would mitigate against radical, fundamentalist kind of ideologies overall.

QUESTIONER:Thank you. I'm Janet Carroll from the U.S. Catholic China Bureau. My question was, back in our discussion a few minutes ago, the restoration of the three traditional festivals, with holidays around Qingming and the others, I was wondering how significant or not that is in terms of this attention to this religious, religiosity types of expression taking the time from, say, the Spring Festival or the other national holidays. Is that anything significant, and how does that play out in the -- you know, in the larger picture as well as at the local realities among people?

WELLER: The first time I traveled rather widely to China was 1984, so long before this. And I remember being on a bus or something at Qingming, and everybody was out sweeping the tombs. You know, it wasn't -- it had no regal blessing at all. It was certainly in this gray area, and yet there's enough social space, even then -- (background noise) -- everybody could go out and do. So does this new regulation change peoples' real behavior? Not so much. So I think it's significance-wise elsewhere. It's significance-wise in the government making a statement. And I think a lot of these regulations should not be read as attempts to regulate. I mean, we already had numerous current environmental, as much as religious, legislation or regulation that isn't implemented and there's no real attempt to do it. It's a statement of ideals.

It's a piece of propaganda in the Chinese sense of propaganda. And, you know, what are they saying here? They're saying, some of this activity is not so superstitious and terrible after all, and let's go ahead and give it our blessing, to use a religious word. (Scattered laughter.)

MADSEN: One place this comes into play, though, is Taiwan and Hong Kong. There -- there is a big issue about, for example, making Buddha's birthday a national holiday. And under the colonial regime in Hong Kong, Christmas was a holiday, not Buddha's birthday. IN Taiwan, Buddha's birthday wasn't either, right? It was -- Christmas was a day off. So it became an issue about, you know, whether we should have our own culture's, you know, icons made into holidays, and, in fact, that happened in both places.

CHAU: Actually, I think the revival of Qingming on the mainland of course would have an implication for a lot of families who have not buried their deceased properly in a traditional way, in a mountain, in a grave, so that you can go sweep the grave because, you know, most of these -- they have cremated the bodies and then there -- you know, very minimal space or physical reminders of the deceased.

So I think -- and I've seen, for example, online commemorative sites developed where -- this is a very new development in the past few years, where people will set up internet commemorative sites where people can post their thoughts and memories of the deceased and there are little, you know, symbolic flames going on on the screen, and I think there's a lot of potential in that kind of development in how new technology can help retain traditional sentiment and commemoration.

WELD: Also, it's a new territory for --

CHAU: -- services, yes.

WELD: Other questions? Yes, in the back.

QUESTIONER:This is a more a comment, but -- I mean, outside Beijing, now, Qingming is celebrated unbelievably, and where the graves are, I mean, I think it's grown by, I can't tell you. I go out there picnicking with old Beijingers and, I mean, it's probably five times larger in the last five years. And I read Bai. You know -- and I have a long history there. But what I encountered is something that keeps being -- and we're so -- and it's referred to a lot -- we're so used to religion being the container, as we define it, of morality, but there's a tremendous morality that's come forward from Daoism. I mean, I encountered young businessmen who gave money away to a rural community and said, "We have everything we want now." Incredible generosity and morality that I can't say I've encountered in my own country. And it comes from some deep traditions and also about leadership that's rooted in Daoism and Confucianism. And I don't know that Christianity has impacted in that same way. It's impacted in other ways, but, and I'd like to know what you've encountered, but --

WELD: Can I add to that?

QUESTIONER:Yes.

WELD: -- the question of whether religion is going to be helpful in dealing with the issue of corruption and the current growth of the economy.

QUESTIONER:Guanzhou will be.

WELLER: This is real corruption? Well, in a place like Taiwan, religion is the source of the corruption, right? The temples. I mean, the issue was not so much -- basically, it's a personal economic relationship, so they don't believe in accounting procedures like we want our receipts and so forth. So it's a matter of dealing with things that didn't stand scrutiny in a rationalized economy. And there's, you know, money laundering -- all this kind of stuff was, you know, it was famous in Taiwan at those local temples. And it's not so much -- and that's -- but then there's also calls for morality and decency and justice, you know, and not -- people not gouging and exploiting people either. So the relationship between religion and corruption is kind of multi-leveled. (Laughter.)

CHAU: In my case, at least, the Heilongdawang, even the though the Black Dragon King is known locally as a really efficacious rain god. But in recent years, well, especially traditionally as well, he's considered a very just god that will punish wrongdoers. And so you have, you know, in the temple a sculpture of a dragon holding the head of a wrongdoer and it's really scary. And there are a lot of, you know, folklore legends about how, you know, a particular person did something wrong and then he was punished by the dragon king. So local people would want to believe that local officials are actually scared of local deities because they have a lot to lose. And so they will tell you, actually it's the officials who bring a lot of money to the temple sometimes by proxy because they don't want to appear in public at the temples. So, yeah, so I don't know if in actuality it helps fight corruption.

WELLER: I mean, that's the crucial issue if the tenets of a religion actually prevented corruption, you know, would there be a corrupt Islamic country, would there be a corrupt Christian country? There obviously wouldn't. I think what we're arguing is religion creates a lot of social capital or -- the Templeton Foundation has been pushing the spiritual capital version of this lately. And, you know, fine -- and it does that. It does those things. That's important. But we shouldn't confuse that with saying that, you know, any social capital is good social capital. Corruption requires social capital. And so we need a broader contextual view to really understand the kind of simple cause and effect with religion here, I don't think it'll be adequate.

QUESTIONER:I was in China for a mission -- (inaudible) -- from the Catholic-China Bureau. I was in China for one month. I arrived two days before the earthquake and I came back Monday morning. I was surprised to see on television and then in the newspapers a lot of religious vocabulary being used either by the people who were interviewed, like victims of the earthquake rescuers and officials. And I don't know if you have the same kind of impression that religiosity or religion is pretty much alive in China, and this earthquake gave an opportunity for a lot of people to show it. And it kind of snowballing effect that you would get more of it after, the next day, after listening to what was said or what you read the day before. So from your vantage point, and as much as you were able to follow the situation in China during the month of May, if you -- the earthquake in itself is not also a kind of good indicator of the religiosity and the future in China that we are talking about now.

CHAU: I have just a short comment. I think, if anything, the earthquake and the outpouring of compassion for the victims actually erased the difference between people who are religious and who are -- and those who are usually not because, usually the, you know, the stereotypical understanding of religious people is they are really nice. People in your everyday life encounter with them and those who are not Christians or Buddhists are not, you know, particularly nice or try to be nice. But I think in this particular situation, it's really showing how those people, you know, in urban China who are not religious at all, you know, can express a very high level of love and compassion. I think, you know, that's --

WELLER: I would just answer that. I think just as significant is the fact that this kind of language was covered in the newspapers. Not that people behaved in this way, which doesn't surprise me that much, but that the government would report, for instance, that Tibetan monks read prayers for the dead. And this was seen as, at the very least, psychologically useful. It wasn't being condemned; it was a good -- it was a social contribution. That's a really different attitude for the Chinese press to take. So it seems like that I think maybe indicate a change. Now what -- you know, will this last -- any of these effects, the NGO effect that we have seen just as much? It's really hard to say, I don't know.

WELD: Yes.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. I'm Robby Barnett from Colombia.

Actually, I want to follow on from your comment because it helps with my question, which is I think under "hexie shehui", the harmonious society, there's been very important statements by Hu Jintao and a lot of senior officials in the press, especially about three years ago or so, saying that, repeatedly, religion can play an important contribution to the creation of our harmonious society. So that's something that's coming from the top. I haven't seen that so much the last year or so, but certainly '06, '07. A lot of statements like that including specifically having Buddist lamas in certain places, Hong Kong, Xinjgain (sp), and so on, making those statements, specifically, and the world Buddhist forum. So there's certainly something pretty major that you're pointing to there that's going on for some time now.

The question I have, though, is sort of the opposite of that. I wonder whether we are internalizing an official distinction, either when we talk about popular religion between religion and superstition because presumably there still is an area of social activity, which the state does consider superstition, and which it bans. Now, of course, that area moves all the time, and obviously, it's not now spirit mediums in many cases.

But in the law, in criminal procedure, in the criminal code, you still have capital punishment for feudal superstition; seems to be defined as superstition related to the use of superstition to gain sexual relations with women and to gain money; at least that was how it was done in the '80's. And there were people who were sentenced to death. I remember cases in '89 where one didn't know much detail, you know, the little groups or communities where they were accused of doing that.

I wondered if you could comment on the freedoms, the regulatory state, what is still being banned in that way. What is still being actively defined as superstition or feudal superstition or as illegal activity and acted upon? Or has that just stopped?

MADSEN: My reading of it is that the regulations are -- first of all, they are not laws, they're regulations, and the category system is very flexible. So, if they think something is feudal superstition, or for that matter an evil cult, then you're in big trouble. But there's no real fixed definition, so you can't go and get a lawyer and say, you know, "This is protected under the constitution because this is religion and this meets the definition." It's very flexible. So if they think something is causing very social unrest or is problematic, they'll just define it as either feudal superstition or, you know, an evil cult, and then they can bring the full weight of the state to bear. But it's not a fixed objective criteria that you can use to defend an inalienable right to practice it.

WELLER: Yeah, I completely agree with that. I think much of Chinese law, especially relating to these kinds of rights issues is purposely ambiguous, and that's the case here as well. So, you know, at the moment, that's been working in favor of religion. It leaves a huge grey area, and the government is mostly leaving that alone. So something like spirit mediums -- if you ask them, they'll tell you it's feudal superstition, I'm pretty sure. But it's don't ask, don't tell. You know, they'll let it go.

But, you know, should policy change? They don't need to change any regulations in order to start repressing all of this stuff again. And I think that's what they want. It's not too different from some other authoritarian strategies; Singapore law has aspects that are just like that.

WELD: I'll take one more question, and it's because -- thank you.

QUESTIONER: Hi, I'm Rebecca Nedostup from Boston College and an earlier session. I was wondering if you could just say a few words about what you think the future is, if any, of the official religious associations, because it's very clear that, from what you've been saying, that they don't necessarily play much of a role in the flourishing of local religion, and that's certainly not where the impetus is coming from. But I'm wondering what role they might be playing in two areas -- sort of the culturalization of religion, if that's going to be what the regulatory framework is going to be in the future, and in some international context. I'm thinking particularly about how the Daoist association has been important in establishing a lot of academic contacts with Taoists in Hong Kong, and especially sort of academic studies and they sort of tend to sit, to some extent, in the cultural framework, but also in the ritual framework as well.

So is there any future movement in that state framework of official associations, or are they going to be increasingly less relevant?

CHAU: I think there will be increasing efforts to elevate the status of human-based superstitious activities of -- (inaudible) -- religions especially Daoism. So as we already know, the majority of Daoist priests have never belonged to the Chinese Daoist Association because they are householder religious service ritualists, and they are dispersed widely in the countryside. They are hired for their ritual services and they will never even -- so they are beyond the control and registration and all that of the Daoist Association. But I think they will be continued to be ignored, basically, by the Daoist association whether or not -- but they -- at the same time, they fit the model of householder businesses, because they are actually, you know, making money by providing a service, so that's sort of very difficult for the Chinese state to recognize it, because once you recognize it, you recognize the superstitious content of their service. And if you don't recognize them, they are also an important aspect of the local economy. So it's a very strange situation.

MADSEN: These patriotic associations are only for the five recognized religions, and so feudal superstition doesn't -- there's no association for futile superstition. (Laughter.) Or not one for evil cults, either. (Laughter). It's only for these groups. And in some -- and the Daoists, I don't know -- I know one issue is, like the Catholic one I know about, you know, more. And I think that group at least is becoming irrelevant in various ways -- say, a functional sociologist would say it's not useful anymore. But there's a political aspect. You have the officials, the people who have made their careers at, you know, running this association are going to hang on to their jobs and to that association until they die. And so there's kind of a rigidity to this thing that's based on the dynamics of Chinese politics and generational politics, too.

WELLER: And I think that's the key issue. So if you change the political landscape, all those associations disappear because they have no non-political function, the way the Buddhist association of the Republic of China, the Taiwanese corporatist body for Buddhists essentially became irrelevant immediately after they democratized, and instead we got these -- (inaudible) -- and these other non-official organizations just skyrocketed at exactly the same moment. China could do that voluntarily. It could do that because of a political transformation, like what happened in Taiwan, or it could not do that, in which case I think we'll see this continued kind of tension that we see in the two Christian groups and the Buddhist group. At least the Daoist one and the Islamic one I think are a bit different.

WELD: Well, thank you very much. I think we've actually gone to the end of the time we have. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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