Arriving in Nanking at the start of a 12-day visit to China, Dr Carey said: 'I want to find out for myself some of the reasons for the growth of the church, and the problems it faces. I can guess some of the problems at this particular moment, but we'll have to find out if my guesses approximate to the truth.'
In a welcoming address, Bishop Ding Guangxun, head of the Protestant church in China, told Dr Carey he was 'exceedingly delighted' at the visit. The Archbishop will visit Nanking, Shanghai, Chengdu and Peking; his schedule includes sermons, lectures, visits to a Bible printing press and an orphanage, and a chance to see the Great Wall.
With churches across China overflowing for every service, Dr Carey will see one of the world's fastest-growing areas for Christianity. But officials yesterday stressed that the Archbishop had also been well-briefed on the problems Christians still face in China. Dr Carey said: 'It's not as if we are a group of amateurs coming to unknown territory. We have gone into it with great care. We have sought the advice of many people who know China intimately.'
It is not yet clear whether Dr Carey will raise with Chinese officials any specific cases concerning Protestants who have suffered at the hands of the authorities.
The Archbishop's host is the China Christian Council, headed by Bishop Ding, which runs China's 8,000-odd official Protestant churches. Bishop Ding said the delegation would not only see the bright side of the church. 'I also want you to see the darker aspects of our work. We have many aspects that are truly dark.'