Date:  May 24, 2023

Hong Kong Protestant churches are told it is time to “Sinicize,” i.e., adapt to a Socialist society and to the CCP leadership, as those in Mainland China were compelled to do.

by Gladys Kwok

A moment of the seminar. From Weibo.

Hong Kong is becoming just like any other Chinese city, and this is increasingly true for religion as well. In CCP jargon, “Sinicization” of Christianity does not mean adapting churches to Chinese culture but making them subservient to the Party.

The government-controlled Protestant Three-Self Church is now extending its tentacles to Hong Kong as well. Its chairperson, Pastor Xu Xiaohong, came to Hong Kong on May 18–19 to preside over a “Seminar on the Sinicization of Christianity” at the YMCA Hotel. Pastor Wu Wei, president of the China Christian Council, an umbrella organization for all Protestant churches in China, also accompanied him, together with other clergy and five Three-Self academics.

More or less voluntarily, some 120 Protestant leaders from Hong Kong had to attend. Present was also the leader of Hong Kong Anglican Church, Archbishop Andrew Chan, who delivered a prayer and blessed the participants.

Archbishop Andrew Chan. Credits.

Archbishop Andrew Chan. Credits.

In one of the opening speeches, Pastor Wu Wei immediately explained what Xi Jinping expects from “Sinicization” of Christianity: not only an aesthetic style that would replace Western with Chinese iconography but an adaptation to China’s political system led by the Central Committee of the CCP. 

Pastor Xu Xiaohong reiterated that “Sinicization” is the adaptation of Christianity to the Chinese society as it exists today. Since the Chinese society is Socialist, it is expected that the Hong Kong churches will adapt to Socialism.

A view of the seminar. From Weibo.

A view of the seminar. From Weibo.

Pastor Shan Weixiang, Vice President of China Christian Council, delivered one of the closing speeches. He quoted a poem from the Tang Dynasty Buddhist poet-monk Guanxiu, “Three thousand guests are full of flowers and drunk, and one sword is frosty and cold in fourteen states.” He commented that these years in Hong Kong are “the time of the patriots,” and true Hong Kong Christian patriots are those who “Sinicize” their churches as it was done in Mainland China. “This seminar is of extraordinary significance, and I believe it will be recorded in history,” Shan said.

Tough times await the once independent Protestant churches in Hong Kong.