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Title: The dragon and the lamb : Christianity and political engagement in China
Author: Entwistle, Philip Owen
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 3444
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines political engagement amongst young urban Chinese Protestants. Based on 100 interviews in Beijing and Shenzhen, 50 with Protestants, and 50 with non-Protestants, it focuses on three areas: national narratives (what individuals think about China, its current situation and its future direction), political opinions, and social and political activity. I firstly argue that Protestants generally adhere to a relatively ‘critical’ national narrative, one that is more divergent from the Party-state’s nationalist discourse than that of their demographic peers. I then argue that in causal terms, it is primarily individuals who hold these critical values who are most drawn to Christianity, rather than developing the values as a result of their faith. Secondly, Protestants do not just hold more negative opinions of China's political regime, but that the criteria by which they judge it are different. In contrast to their demographic peers, Protestants do not base their judgements of the regime on its performance at delivering on everyday political issues. Thirdly, Protestantism catalyses the development of a sense of agency in its adherents: a sense of moral responsibility towards China and a desire to bring change through transformative activism. However, factors in China's cultural, historical, social and political context serve to steer Protestants' activism away from engagement with secular society and inward towards the church community. I conclude by arguing that Protestantism poses two challenges to China's Party-state: Firstly, it is symptomatic of an underlying sense of social and political malaise, of scepticism towards the primacy of economic enrichment and towards the Party-state’s attempt to legitimise its rule based upon this. Secondly, Protestantism catalyses the emergence of a critical, morally agentic individualism that anchors its worldview in a discourse outside the control of the Party-state. Adapting to these social shifts presents a major future challenge for the CCP.
Supervisor: Shue, Vivienne; Whitefield, Stephen Sponsor: University of Oxford China Centre ; Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Politics of China ; Political science ; Ideologies ; Political ideologies ; Philosophy,psychology and sociology of religion ; Christianity and Christian spirituality ; Asia ; Christianity in China ; China ; Protestantism ; Christianity ; Politics ; Nationalism ; Public opinion ; Political engagement