Magazine article Anglican Journal

Bible Printing Press Thrives in China as Demand Grows

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Bible Printing Press Thrives in China as Demand Grows

Article excerpt


DECADES AGO, only a few brave souls dared to own a Bible in Communist China. Owning one--whether smuggled from overseas or copied by hand from dog-eared Bibles that managed to survive the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) when Red Guards ransacked homes and burned anything perceived to be "bourgeois"--often guaranteed a sentence to hard labour, torture, or death.

These days, however, Bibles are ubiquitous in China, and ownership is a source of pride; the younger generation (even non-Christians), use the Scriptures to learn English. Although Bibles are still not sold in bookstores, they are readily available in book centres and other distribution points set up across the country by officially sanctioned Protestant churches.

Through a partnership between the United Bible Societies and the China Christian Council, the Amity Printing Press was born in 1988; in its first full year of operation, it printed 500,000 Bibles. As of May 2005, Amity Press had printed a total of 42.5 million copies.

It all began when churches were allowed by the state to reopen in 1979 as part of an official "opening up" policy. The Council had sought the assistance of the Bible society in providing paper for the production of Bibles.

The first Bibles in China were actually printed in 1980, at a printing press owned by the People's Liberation Army in Beijing, said Peter Dean, a New Zealander who works as special assistant to the general manager. "It was the only one which had the ability to print on thin paper."

By 1988, the government had allowed joint ventures and the Bible society was invited to come in with its share capital. National Bible societies around the world held a fundraising drive to build a more modern press and high-speed Timson machines were imported from Europe.

Today, Amity Press publishes the Bible in eight Chinese minority languages and in Braille; it has exported more than 800,000 Bibles in English, French, African languages, Russian and Spanish to various countries around the world. …

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