Leadership Summit 2010 | Dr. Zhao Xiao – Beyond Economy: China’s Transformation with the Cross

Posted on August 5, 2010


“Churches, and only churches, are Americans’ Center; they are the very core that binds Americans together.”



[NOTE: Due to live blogging, and some misunderstandings, even through the translation, this is not an exact transcript. Many statements are not exact quotes.]

There are four primary world stages. One, the platform for economics. Two, the political stage. Three, the stage for sports. Four, the stage of faith. On stage 4, you’ve rarely seen China. But now China has come back.

Leadership is not just about influence, but must also be about the right direction.

Christ was born 2000 years ago, the Reformation 1500, et.al. Where is the significant direction we are going today? The most significant thing is the rising up of China, because that will influence the next few centuries, and even longer. 500 years later, we may look back and see that the most significant changes were China’s changes. But China is not rising up. China, I believe, is coming back.

If we take the last 5000 years as a 5000 m race, China was way ahead in most of the race. China was a leader in most of the aspects up until the 1400s. Largest economy, and even today, no country can take such percentage of the share. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, ½ of the world’s books were in Chinese [prior to the 18th c.]. Past 30 years, China has caught up. China has experienced the fastest growth in human history. China now has the 3rd largest economy. By end of this year, China will surpass Japan to second place. By 2020, it is possible, China may surpass America to become the largest economic body in the world. China has come back, through the center stage of super powers and return to its leadership role in the world.

Another perspective is that China’s growth is not that it will become a natural leader. It has a lot of challenges. For example, environmental pollutions, 1/3 of land 2/5 of land polluted. The majority of resources will be consumed by the Chinese in future. Is it possible to grow this way, despairity, corruption, political systems challenges. And there are some invisible challenges as well. These are the critical ones, and they are more severe. That is the challenge of China’s moral battle.

If China can only produce TV set and not programs, only products and not ideas, we will not become a superpower. There is no such thing as a “China dream.” Because there is no one will willingly follow China. America has become the leader of the whole world. There is a thing called “American dream,” not just cars and houses, not just systems of regulations…that means American values. Many people love Americans because of the values behind the people. Very obviously, China should go beyond the economic growth and pursue growth in other areas. Especially through value changes to achieve more mature leadership. That means, China must open their arms to the whole world, not just learn business or high-tech technologies.

China should embrace the most advanced cultures in the world and learn the best values of the world, and to nurture herself. And the most important thing here is to learn from the Christian values, and this I want to make precisely…China must learn values from the Christian faith. I am glad that though we were unwilling, we are now willing to learn.

Thank you to all the missionaries who brought this and love to China. In 16th and 17th c., Martin Rees brought the gospel to China. Matteo Ricci, 18th and 19th c., Robert Morrison, Protestantism to China. 19th and 20th c., Eric Liddell. Before 1941, there were less than 1 million Christians. After this, many were asked to leave the country. Many frustrated and worried. It took 1000 years for the church to come back, and that was in 1949. God never ceases his work, even though missionaries have left China. Many have contributed to church growth and gospel spreading.

This one leader, Truman Mao, have crushed all the idols in the room, there is another great leader…opened the doors and windows and let the gospel come in. Many looked in the past 30 years, China looked, and there is dozens times of economic growth, but most importantly, you should look at the Chinese Christian numbers have increased 100 fold from ½ million to conservative estimate, to around 18 million, or up to 31 million Christians in China. That means the life transformation has way surpassed the economic transformation. We look ahead to China to become the largest nation with Protestant Christians, the largest Christian nation and become the largest sending nation.

That means there is an in-depth change happening in China. This is life-transformation, and all the rest of the changes rest upon this foundation. I call this transformation, “transformation with the cross.” Probably sounds strange. What does it mean?

You know we have 365 days a year, 7 days a week. So, I categorize it in two days: Sunday and not Sunday. I think on “not-Sunday,” you are looking forward to Sunday. I told you the whole transformation only two kinds. One is transformation with the cross, and another is transformation without the cross. All transformation points to modern civilization behind it is without the cross. In the modern history, the country that develops to the great nations, are Christian nations or are influenced by Christianity. Rome as an example. Europe had first transformation with the cross, the first place of thriving and reviving. Then we see America. God bless America. America has built a city on a hill, and had shined through the whole world the light of Christ and the love of Christ, and then it comes now to East Asia. The missionaries per capita, Singapore had the largest sending of any nation per capita. Korea has sent the second largest to the world. In Hong Kong, all education is Christian education. (?) A group of leaders who led Taiwan education were all Christians. The transformation with the cross has come to China.

China’s culture embraces all cultures, like the ocean takes in all the rivers. So, Chinese culture is never a static thing; it is a dynamic growth process. In Chinese history, there are two culture revivals, two great prosperties in Chinese revival, 202 B.C. “Hiang (sp?) Dynasty” an integration of Daoism and Confucianism. Second it “Tang Dynasty” AD 618, Confucianism, Daoism, and overseas Buddhism. Supported the revival of Tang Dynasty. This time it is Chinese culture integrated with Christian faith which will form a new Chinese culture and support a third Chinese revival and it will become the critcal tipping point for Chinese civilization. The gospel of Christ will bless China very much.

Two perspectives.

Market civilization that China is chasing now. The other is the democratic which china is seeking to go in the future. God has made covenant with his people, and his covenant never changes.

China is forming a harmonious society, the most important part is the foundation of broader love. If we take away unconditional love, then there is no hospitality we can build for a prosperous society. We are very happy to see “transformation with the cross” has become the movement. We had a Christian businessmans forum. The theme was the transformation with the cross. People are discussing how Christian businessmen should do. For example, respond to government call to have one set of accounting books, not just two sets of books. You think this is simple, but not simple in China. Lots of people worship success, not integrity. But Christian entrepreneurs respond earnestly to integrity’s call and do not give business briberies and do not conduct sexual relationships outside of marriage and treat employees fairly. A Generation’s Testimoy, SFO, 2008, contains almost all Chinese ministry leaders to come to America in past 30 years time, to celebrate. They talk about China’s change and transformation, but “with the cross.” What does it all mean to you? We know that “Mayflower” brought American’s here. Now Chinese have their own Mayflower. Where is this going?

China: A new city on a hill. A nation of integrity. A blessing to the world. Empowering servant leaders to be salt and light in China through commerce, culture and education, to renew China and help her to bless the world.

At the same time, China will flow out of it the blessings it has received.

I am economist. Where I go, people ask me two questions.  If you were to ask me two questions, will China’s economy, will it continue to grow or collapse? Will China rise up, be a blessing or curse to the world?

The answer to the second question is found on this boat. If the contents of this boat can be delivered, that economic growth grows with a life-growth, it will be a blessing not a curse.

We see China has some special opportunities. For example, China does not have a history of colonizing, we don’t take other people’s land…yet.

If China has power and good standards, surely it will help China practice its leadership. This picture has significant challenges. We have lots of Christians in China, but this does not mean that we will have a successful future.

Now we have quantities, and less qualities and even less power to influence China and the world.

So I invite you, borthers and sisters of the globe, into the transformation with the cross, to help China, to bless this process, and facing to China’s rising up, lots of Westerners have fear in their heart’s because in the past, the West always has led the way, and now there are two Chinese standing here, speaking Chinese, and its weird.

We fear change, that’s our nature…that’s normal. But we ask you, brothers and sisters to remove your fear for China. And continuously to give your love and support to China, especially mature Christians from the West, you could help the Chinese grow and mature. You could help them love God more. Show them how to lead a godly life. You can also tell Chinese brothers how to give generously, how to love your neighbors more. You could tell Chinese churches how you could go from church to society, and help China really become a harmonious society one day.

We encounter blessings and opportunity today. China has come back. God has given us, each of us opportunity to influence today’s China, it is to influence tomorrow’s world. Bless today’s China, which means to bless tomorrow’s world.

One dream. I am expecting GLS will one day help in China.

— VIA —

No doubt, one of the most controversial Summit sessions I’ve seen. The conversations on the ride home were along the following.

1. The beginning felt like “Communist Propaganda.” Communism, as one of our team members said, is sick and dehumanizing. It’s a terrible ideology, arrogant, and dishonest. So, the idea that “China is all great, and we’re coming back,” sounds too much like the familiar tones of Communism, which, though Xiao mentioned “fear,” is worthy of it.

2. The rationale for substantiating his point is also in questions. For example, the Olympics, though held in China, may not be the best example to draw from as several entrants to this past year’s Olympics are having their medals revoked from them due to indiscriminate age. Sure, China won a lot of gold medals. But, what unfortunate behind the scenes actions did they take to win them in the first place? (Though I will say, the opening ceremonies were arguably the best in the history of the Olympics)

3. Though all of that above may be true, the message of bringing Christianity to China, and the thankfulness and gratitude he shared regarding the missionaries was touching, and hopeful. Certain this is not the only sentiment felt from the talk, and our group discussed how middle-America and the more conservative of us may still feel very uncomfortable with this proposition. However, Christianity seems to be making further strides in China, as is other parts of the world, and though we may not “feel” like it’s the best thing (questioning its reach, its theology, and its practice), perhaps we could all agree that it is at least a redemptive step in the right direction. Perhaps?

4. The flip side to that is the observation that much of the discussion in this talk was more about the morals of Christianity, not so much the redemptive power of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Perhaps many others could be criticized of this too, no doubt, in Western Christianity, however, the distinction here is the marrying of these moral ideas with the “economic advancement” ideas of their politics and economy. It can appear to be a kind of religious pilfering for the sake of political and economic gain.

5. Now, in light of all that, here’s the reality. China is emerging on the world scene (whether for “the first time” or “again,”) and I believe that Xiao’s commendation to us to “partner” with them is a wise one. Even if we saw China as the enemy, did not Jesus say to “love” our enemies? And while this does not have to mean an acquiescence to unwise choices in international relations, it does mean to do everything we can to express love, care, compassion, hope, etc., to the people of China so that the world may be blessed.

Consider this. Perhaps the “sending” by God of His people is coming around full-circle. Beginning in Ur with Abram, 4,000 years later to Xiao and China. And, if all this is true in our time, then the blessing of Abraham in Genesis 12 could perhaps once again be the blessing of the Chinese nation to the world.