Carey heartened by Church in China

THE Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, yesterday ended his controversial visit to China with an upbeat assessment of the rapidly growing Christian movement. 'In the main, religious toleration is a reality,' he said. 'The Church is growing, and that growth is generally unimpeded.' But he admitted that 'the picture . . . is uneven'.

Dr Carey said he had raised religious rights issues with the government during the 12-day trip, but senior Chinese officials responded with little more than platitudes. He said he had 'expressed particular concern' to a senior state leader about a case in Ankang City, Shaanxi Province, in March 1993 when 'extreme violence' was used by public security officials to shut down an unofficial church. The subject was brought up during a 40-minute meeting with Ismael Amat, the state councillor with responsibility for ethnic and religious affairs.

'The response was that the government was aware of reported abuses and he (Mr Amat) promised me that that particular instance I referred to would be looked at more carefully, and he was going to take this up with the director of the Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB),' the Archbishop said.

The case, in which one man died after being beaten, has already been well-documented and publicised outside China, but no action has been taken by the Chinese government in the past year and a half to bring the culprits to account.

The previous day, the Archbishop had asked RAB officials for clarification about arrests of members of the Jesus Family group in Shandong and other provinces. 'The response was rather opaque, because they were unprepared for that particular illustration,' admitted Dr Carey. In other meetings, he asked about reported violations of the Chinese government's freedom-of-information policy in provinces such as Anhui, Henan and Shaanxi.

Despite these well-documented cases, Dr Carey said: 'It is quite clear that the official policy of the government is not to interfere in the internal affairs of the Church, but rather to protect the people's right to exercise their faith within the confines of the law.'

Asked if he had seen the 'dark side' of Christianity in China, Dr Carey said: 'We have certainly seen the shadows. But against the shadows, the picture is generally an encouraging one, getting healthier all the time. I could so easily have come here and had my own agenda, and given lists of incidents and abuses. It would have done no good whatsoever.'

Many before him, senior statesmen included, have indeed had little success when raising individual human rights cases with the authorities.

The difficulties of being trapped on an official visit to China, most of the time cocooned from casual contact with ordinary people, and often stonewalled by the cadres, had left the Archbishop's team weary.

Privately, he likened the experience to deep-sea diving; things were clear on the surface, but the deeper one went, the harder it was to see anything. 'You have to hope that eventually you will touch reality,' he was described as saying.

Dr Carey nevertheless saw little wrong with the new religious laws introduced this year. Order 145, which states that all religious groups must register, would help 'protect' unofficial churches rather than be an instrument of repression, the Archbishop said. But he admitted that it all depended on how the laws were implemented.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living