Analysis Group in Hong Kong Scours Official Party Press for Grains of Truth CHINA

By Ann Scott Tyson, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, March 11, 1992 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Analysis Group in Hong Kong Scours Official Party Press for Grains of Truth CHINA


Ann Scott Tyson, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


THE door buzzer on Mosque Junction Street is cryptically marked with a strip of paper bearing two Chinese characters, "Weixin," meaning literally, "safeguard the faith."

Upstairs, in a headquarters hidden in the maze of meandering lanes above Hong Kong harbor, a team of Jesuit priests practices the arcane art of "China watching" with a mastery esteemed by Western spies.

Yet far removed from the cynical motivations of their cloak-and-dagger counterparts, the scholarly fathers find success in devotion to a nobler aim.

Inspired by their predecessor, the 16th-century Jesuit pioneer Matteo Ricci, the priests are working to deepen the philosophical discourse between Confucian and Christian cultures.

"We're like Ricci, comparing maps and methodologies," observes the Rev. Michel Masson, an unassuming, bespectacled expert in modern Chinese history.

Every morning, Fr. Masson and his colleagues scour the official Chinese press, reading some 20 newspapers and 50 periodicals.

In a labor likened by Sinologist Simon Leys to "swallowing sawdust by the bucketful," they scavenge the mountains of mind-numbing propaganda for clues to important political, economic, and social shifts.

Each useful article or biographical note is carefully clipped, referenced, and filed away with half a million others. The archives, dating back to 1949, rival those of the United States State Department and are frequently consulted by diplomats, scholars, and journalists.

The nuggets of fact and insight are then published in the fortnightly newsletter China News Analysis - nine crisp pages of riveting observations and one of the world's best China-watching journals.

The newsletter is part of the nonprofit organization "Weixin," named after Zheng Weixin (1633-1673), the first Chinese Jesuit priest and a brilliant scholar who taught classics in Rome before returning to China incognito as a missionary. Weixin also offers workshops on China for visiting Jesuits and scholarships in comparative literature for Chinese academics.

For director Masson and the Rev. Yves Nalet, the editor, China News Analysis exemplifies the Jesuit emphasis on education in addition to missionary goals.

"It's very important that people in the church are doing something in China that is purely intellectual and disinterested - without a Bible up our sleeves," says Masson.

"It is almost a Christian necessity to try to understand what kind of people the Chinese are, what questions they are asking," he says.

Moreover, for the first time since the iconoclastic May Fourth movement of 1919, mainland Chinese intellectuals are showing a serious interest in Western theology as relevant to revitalizing China's ancient Confucian culture, Masson says.

Increasingly, he says, scholars such as Shenzhen University sociologist Liu Xiaofeng are finding meaning in Christian ideas that are radically different from Confucianism, such as the concept of life as a journey.

"In Confucianism, man stays at home and cultivates his moral garden.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Analysis Group in Hong Kong Scours Official Party Press for Grains of Truth CHINA
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?