News editor Harry Genet recently met with several China watchers to gauge their assessment of developments there. The impressions he gleaned:

Just a year ago, Jonathan Chao, dean of the China Graduate School of Theology in Hong Kong, told a Christian gathering of China watchers that they probably had twenty years to lay a sound foundation for a renewed opportunity to share in evangelizing China.

The establishment of diplomatic relations on January 1 between the United States and the People’s Republic of China suddenly made Chao’s then optimistic timetable decidedly conservative. Now, prominent Christian voices are hinting that missionaries will be returning to the mainland tomorrow.

The U.S.-China reconciliation is bound to bring benefits, the China watchers say, simply because a nation of more than 900 million persons, isolated for thirty years, has been brought into the mainstream of world history.

Restrictions that prevented the Chinese from fraternizing with foreign visitors were reportedly lifted last July.

At the end of 1978 more than eighty U.S. firms were seeking contracts in China and some twenty Chinese technical delegations were visiting in the United States. And this appears to be only the beginning. The potential opportunities for Christian lay fellowship, encouragement, and tactful witness will certainly increase.

The Far East Broadcasting Company reports that written responses from listeners on the mainland have increased 1,200 per cent in the month following the Carter administration announcement.

Current negotiations between the United States and the People’s Republic regarding some $200 million in American assets frozen in China include some $60 million in churches, schools, and hospitals seized in 1949.

The coming ...

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