After the trip to China just described, I worked with Chinese Intelligence for 22 years. But before you question whether that was “good” or not let me explain. Shortly after 1980 the Chinese authorities were still determined to know about the United States’ “management system”………just like the authorities in Russia wanted to know.
Since central planning of a huge economy by government bureaucrats has never ever worked, and things in the U.S. economy work so wonderfully well, they assumed that we had this magically wonderful system as I have explained previously. Since Dallas is a well-known business center, they sent one of their bright young intelligence operatives to Dallas to find the answer to our system.
He enrolled in Dallas Baptist University to get a Master’s Degree in Business. Since I was on the Board of Trustees of the University, he came down to my office to meet me to gather his “intelligence information”. I wanted him to know our Capitalist system, so I was happy to co-operate. I actually had him read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations so he could learn about the “guiding had of the market” that works so well under the freedom of Capitalism.
We became good friends. However, he had been tasked by the Chinese Authorities with another task. They wanted to know about these Christians. Why do they want to come to China ? Are they a danger? Should we let them in? Do they want to overthrow the government? That is why he had enrolled in Dallas Baptist University , since it is a Christian school. He eventually sent reports to China that Christians were the most honest people that they would find….that Christians were the ones who could be the most trusted.
When China first opened-up there is no telling how many evangelical types wanted to go to China a be a missionary. There would be a Pentecostal pastor in Arkansas who had two churches there. He would feel that he needed to go to China and convert the people. China got a plethora of such requests. So many of such folks asked for permission to go there and teach English as a cover for their real mission.
My Chinese “Handler” was gracious enough to show me the response of his superiors. It went something like this: “Let them come and teach English. We need the hard currency they will bring. They are not going to hurt anything. We will watch them.”
In 1989 I went to China with my handler and a small group of Master’s Degree students from Dallas Baptist University . At that time it was still necessary to fly to Hong Kong, take the train to Guangzhou , and then fly to where ever one wished to go in China . We wished to fly directly on the Beijing . Right away I learned that there are certain advantages to a centrally planned and managed government if you are one of the “insiders”.
We were tired and wanted to get on to Beijing , but all the flights were full for the next several days. Those of us from the US thought what a bum situation that was. However, that was when my handler opened his wallet and pulled out this little card. I could not read the Chinese on it, but it looked very “official”. The airline folks promptly bumped off enough people on the next plane leaving Guangzhou and we promptly boarded and took off. Not good for regular Chinese citizens and tourists, but great for those in authority.
In Beijing I met with some of China ’s top authorities. This would happen at banquets that I would host for them. One of the most interesting was one where I hosted a banquet for the fellow who was over all of the many minority people groups in China. It was at one of those typical big round tables. He had brought many of his top aides. As at many such business dinners we had the big, common hot pot. This one was not electric, but coal fired with a big flue on top. The servers would bring in all kinds of meat thinly sliced and rolled into many small rolls……beef, pork, mutton, goat meat, dog meat, monkey meat, snake, and no telling what else. The Head of Minorities was from one of the minority provinces, Guangxi. His home was in Nanning , the capital of that province where I subsequently stayed many times. He gave permission for the Jesus film to be put into several of the many minority languages spoken in Guangxi.
At this dinner, the hot pot was unusually large. It had a complete circle filled with boiling water around its base. People would take turns putting the different meats into the pot to boil and then take it out with their chopsticks to eat. However, they would take turns dipping their cooked meat into a big pot of extremely hot/spicy sauce to “out macho” each other. I really detest this macho stuff that some Chinese men do. So I broke all precedent and decorum and just dumped the whole bowl of the super hot sauce into the common circle of boiling water.
That stopped all the macho stuff, and as it turned out, greatly pleased the Head of Minorities since he did not like all the macho stuff either.
On this trip, we were there just a few months before the student takeover of Tiananmen Square . Deng Xiaoping was the absolute ruler of China from 1978 until his death in 1997. Late in his life he had others take the title of President of China, but he was still the boss. He had lived for 5 years in Paris , France . On that trip he passed through Singapore in 1920. However, soon after taking over as the leader of China , he visited Singapore again in 1978.
On his trip to Singapore he had a full schedule of activities. However, his first activity was to meet Lee Kuan Yew, Founding Father and First Premier of Singapore. Lee lived until he was age 91 and did not die until 3/23/2015 after governing for 30 years. Deng was so impressed with want Premier Lee had done to build that little country into one of the most prosperous places in the world, that he just canceled all of his schedule and spent almost the whole time with Premier Lee, learning how he had done such a fantastic job. One reason that he was so interested was that Singapore was almost totally populated with ethnic Chinese. They had most all come there as uneducated coolie laborers, but now they and their decedents were wealthy, sophisticated people.
Lee showed Deng that his main secret was to give business-people and most anyone wanting to go into business almost complete freedom…….as few restrictions as possible on starting and operating a business. What Deng saw in Singapore was such a revelation to him that he went back to China , determined to do the same thing there. He decided to implement these freedoms in stages. His first stage was to start with China ’s farmers. When I was there in 1989, the farmers had just received their first freedoms. They were setting up markets in all of the towns and cities across China and were getting rich. Later, Deng told everyone to “go and get rich”.And now, amazing wealth has been amassed across the country. China will soon have more billionaires than the US according to Forbes Magazine.
On that trip we visited a farmer’s co-op in Shandong province which was not only selling their agricultural products for good profits, they were generating the electricity for that whole area, they had all manner of side businesses, they had their own private planes, and were even charging money to show other farm groups how to do what they were doing. I will give more information about the results of Deng’s new policies and their influence on China later.
On this trip, I really wanted to meet Bishop Ting, who was over all Christian activities in China . His office was in Nanjing where he was head of a large seminary and where he was training new Christian pastors and was printing bibles to distribute across China . That printing operation was called Amity Press.
Before I left for China for that trip, my friends at Campus Crusade (like Dr. Bill Bright) told me that I would not get to meet him, since they had not gotten to meet him. I was told the same thing by Billy Graham’s folks. But they each told me that if I did get to meet him: “Would I please ask him questions that only he would know the answers to…….like, ‘Is there any Christian activity at all in North Korea.’”
We visited Nanjing , and found that Bishop Ting (he had once been an Anglican Bishop before the revolution) was quite shielded for some reason. It did seem that it was going to be impossible to meet him.
In China the Shanghai Language Institute is one of the primary places where Chinese Intelligence people are trained. If a Chinese ever tells you that is where he went to school, you can be sure that he is probably with their Intelligence Service. Well, my handler called one of his former classmates from that institution that he knew now lived in Nanjing . Amazingly she happened to have the private phone number of Bishop Ting. Bishop Ting was contacted and agreed to meet us the next day out in front of his Seminary in front of anyone who may be shielding him.
Of course, I was concerned about how I could ask him the sensitive questions that those in the US had requested of me with official Chinese interpreters in attendance. There was no worry. Bishop Ting has a Master’s Degree in English from Boston College. My English will never be as good as his. He welcomed our little group warmly and ushered us into his office at the Seminary. Since he had been out of the country to speak at certain meetings, he was able to give us essays that he had written concerning his speeches at those places.
His one primary theme was that the United States did not need to send missionaries to China, that Chinese pastors could get the job done with just some support and backing from the US. He iterated that there had only been a small number of Christians before the revolution, but that there were many, many thousands now….that they were doing a fairly good job of evangelizing. And he did express his burning desire to see all of China won to Jesus. Not knowing anything about my handler who was there, present, Bishop Ting urged him to return to China and help to win China to Jesus.
He showed us through the Amity Press where they were printing all kinds of bibles for China ….millions. He also showed us through the art department of the seminary. There the senior professor drew one of those popular Chinese vertical paintings showing a bond between their Seminary and Dallas Baptist University.