can shenzhen evolve from “suck it up theory” to creativity?

I have come to think of “theories” in Chinese political culture to function like guidelines to acceptable behavior. The difficulty for folks in Shenzhen arise from contradictions between extant theories and changing social condititions, or what might be called “double bind theory”; General Secretary Xi Jinping has tightened the space of critical thinking and debate, even as his government, especially Premier Li Keqiang is exhorting people to be creative. But there’s the rub; people need to take critical stances in order to create new solutions to entrenched problems and critical stances have been routinely discouraged throughout the Reform and Opening era, begging the question: can Shenzhen evolve from “suck it up theory” to creativity? Continue reading

the shenzhen gospel

Swedish missionary, Theodore Hamberg arrived in Hong Kong on March 19, 1846. The following year, he joined what became known as the Basel Mission, focusing on converting Hakka communities to Christianity. Indeed, Hamberg was the first to draft a dictionary of Hakka into a western language. Hamberg died in Hong Kong in 1854, however, his efforts to bring the gospel to Hakka people prospered. Located in Langkou Village, Dalang Street, Bao’an District, Shenzhen — and yes, I do enjoy the dense specificity of Chinese place names — the Langkou Gospel Hall (or Church) was built twenty years after Hamberg first arrived in 1866.

The first pastor of the Langkou Gospel Hall was Charles Piton, who served the congregation from 1866 through 1884. The next few years, there was no foreign pastor at the Church. However, in 1891, the German missionary 骆润滋 (and if you know his Western name, please let me know) came to Langkou from the Hong Kong Mission. That same year, the mission also established the “Devout and Chaste” Girls School (虔贞学校), moving from Hong Kong further inland.

During the Mao era, the church and school buildings were used as schools and administrative centers. In 1984, the central government allowed for religious services and the Langkou Gospel Hall reopened as a church. In 2003, the community broke ground to build a new church on neighboring land. The school building was used until 1986 and then abandoned to squatters until recently, when the Dalang Street government decided to restore the school and church as historic buildings. Presumably construction will begin in several months and early next year, the school and former Gospel Hall will reopen as public cultural centers. The Church will continue its mission, including exhibitions that document the history of Christianity in Guangdong generally, but amongst Hakka communities specifically.

Below, impressions of a visit to pre-restored Devout and Chaste Girls School and Langkou Gospel Hall, which is currently occupied by a migrant worker family, who earn their living doing piecework for a nearby factory.

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the 18th npc: princelings and the jiang gang

This afternoon at lunch, the new members of the Central Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China trundled out, in order: re-elected members Xi Jinping (习近平) and Li Keqiang (李克强), and newly elected members, Zhang Dejiang (张德江), Yu Zhengsheng (俞正声), Liu Yunshan (刘云山), Wang Qishan (王岐山), and Zhang Gaoli (张高丽). Other than the fact that the Standing Committee members rank number 1-7 in the country, we also know that they overwhelmingly represent the Princeling Party and the remnant strength of Jiang Zemin’s power base (Liu Yunshan and Zhang Gaoli). For those of us in Guangdong, we also learned that Wang Yang will remain in Bejing as a vice-premier, with a very good chance of becoming a standing committee member in the 19th national people’s congress. Pictures of Chinese top 7: