Center for Asia Pacific Studies
The Center is San Francisco’s academic gateway to the Asia Pacific, fostering and promoting innovative research, teaching and public programs.
In East Asia, the complexity of church-state relations can be better understood if one takes into account the involvement of local community in negotiating with the state over sacred and secular matters. This article argues that the church, state, and community were not independent variables, but constantly negotiated with each other over the control of religions, religious institutions and rituals. When the state was strong, the church and community participated in the formation of the state power. As the state power declined, the church and community reverted to their original independence and crossed the boundaries between sacred and profane in order to claim political, social and economic influences.
This article explores the nature of state power and religion in Song China and Goryeo Korea by studying the state appropriation of Buddhism and the integration of Buddhism into the ideological, political and social order. It argues that Buddhism was an integral part of the state-building project in that it enabled the Song and Goryeo rulers to justify their rise to power and claim to legitimacy. The Chinese and Korean rulers acted pragmatically to secure the political support of the Buddhist establishment. However, their pro-Buddhist policies advanced Buddhist interests and contributed to the rapid expansion of Buddhism at the grassroots level. By examining the development of Buddhist institutions in the wider contexts of political, social and economic changes in Song China and Goryeo Korea, this study has probed more deeply into the inner dynamics of Buddhism in imperial East Asia than have many current studies. It has also gone beyond the dichotomy of Buddhism-versus-Confucianism to explore the negotiation of power between Buddhist monks and Confucian rulers from a comparative perspective.
The article examines some of the idiosyncrasies of church-state relations in the Warring States (sengoku) period in Japan. "Church" means the formal and informal organizational structures binding ordained and unordained religious practitioners of various forms of Buddhism, while "state" refers to the more or less formalized administrative apparatus of independent daimyô domains (rather than the remnants of the old imperial state). It argues that traditional power holders tried to prevent any spontaneous large-scale group activities amongst commoners, religious or otherwise. By examining a wide range of anti-religious policies, it shows that repressive measures employed by Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu to control religious communities had been presaged by similar policies in the domains of daimyô throughout the sixteenth century.
This article looks at the anti-Christian campaign in 1784-1785 within the wider contexts of political culture and bureaucratic reform in China during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. It argues that Qianlong exploited the anti-Christian campaign to reinvigorate his ruling machine and to enforce his control over the imperial bureaucracy. The significance of this campaign lies not only in the light that it throws on the interactions between the Chinese imperial state and Catholic communities in the eighteenth century, but also in the ways in which the state continued to work out new mechanisms in response to problems facing the upper and lower levels of government.
Through several case studies of anti-Christian violence in North China, this article examines various patterns of political interaction between German Protestant missionaries and Chinese local elite during the first decade of the twentieth century. In these cases, the Chinese officials used the Lutheran Berlin and Weimar missions to empower themselves, which in turn, allowed the German missionaries to play an active role in the competitive arena of local politics. This article argues that the anti-Christian sentiment was highly situational and varied in time and place. In those peripheral areas where there was little government control and Confucian influence, the Chinese elite did not hesitate to take advantage of missionary resources for political survival. It was these pragmatic concerns rather than ideological considerations that dictated the inter-action between Chinese elite and Christian missionaries in the post-Boxer era.
This article looks at the dynamics of the Protestant missionary education in North China at the turn of the twentieth century. Focusing on the American Presbyterian school system in Shandong province, it investigates a number of attempts by Chinese Christian educators to claim more power and play an active role in the development of the Christian mission education. It argues that the American Presbyterian missionaries completely depended on their Chinese colleagues to administer the mission school system. As the 1910s came to an end, there were more opportunities for Chinese workers to take up administrative positions in the mission schools. To a large extent, there was a gradual process of devolution of power within the mission school system. It was in this process that Chinese staff had acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to run the schools on their own.
This article has presented a critical overview of Horace G. Underwood's missionary career. In particular, it focuses on Underwood's approach to evangelisation and church-state relations in late nineteenth-century Korea. While Korea was facing the Japanese imperialistic intrusion, Underwood hoped to use Protestant Christianity to reform and modernize Korea, to make the church more important to the Korean state, and to support Korea against the Japanese aggression. His contributions made him a legendary figure in the modern history of Korea. His innovative mission strategy based on a long-term vision helped transform Korea into a success story of evangelisation in the global history of Protestant missionary movements.
Throughout the British colonial era (1842-1997), church-state relations constituted an integral part of Western institutions in Hong Kong. After 1997, both Catholic and Protestant churches in Hong Kong have been faced with tremendous pressures to identify with the Beijing-supported Chee-hwa Tung administration. This article seeks to capture the dynamics of church-state relations in Hong Kong by comparing the role of Catholic and Evangelical Christian churches in the popular struggle against the implementation of Article 23 of the Basic Law in the summer of 2003 (Article 23 of the Basic Law was proposed to prohibit individuals and political organizations in Hong Kong from conducting subversive activities against the Chinese central government in Beijing.). Although the Beijing leaders and the Tung administration successfully co-opted a significant number of Evangelical church leaders, they failed to have the Catholic Church under control, which has constantly challenged the political Establishment in post-1997 Hong Kong. The challenges that the Catholic Church currently poses to the Beijing leaders and the Tung administration have to do with its alternative interpretations of political authority and state-society relations, its campaign for the poor in society, and its mobilization of ordinary Catholics in political struggles.
This article presents a critique of the history of church-state relations in the West, and discusses the differences between Western ways in which such relations are conceptualised and the ways they are seen in East Asia. By studying the Christian Church's explanation of its relationship to the secular power, it argues that a key to understanding the dynamics of church-state relations in Europe and America is the distinction between religious and secular authorities. This distinction has continued to shape the interaction between religion and politics in the contemporary world.