The Political Contexts of Religious Exchanges: A Study on Chinese Protestants’ International Relations

Tobias Brandner


This article surveys the complex ecumenical, missionary and international church relations of Chinese Protestant Christians. It argues that the inter-church relations to other parts of Asia are overshadowed by relations to Christians in the West, thus reflecting a political preoccupation with relationships to the West. This is evidenced by an analysis of worldwide and Asian ecumenism as well as bilateral church and missionary relationships. The dominance of contacts with the West not only contradicts the idea of a multipolar world and increased South-South contacts, it also stands in contrast to the reality of growing and increasingly important Christianity in Asia. Methodologically, this paper analyses different kinds of international relations (multilateral and bilateral, inter-church and missionary) and develops a typology of different inter-church and inter-state relations to assess international church relations in Asia today. The typology shows how China’s international church relations support its political relationships with its neighbours and beyond.

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