Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

China: The Future

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I've been in Manhattan chasing the Chinese dragon with limited time and Internet access. I was as a fabulous conference on China and intellectual property, an issue of great interest for those of us who care about patents and other forms of intellectual property. Made some new friends from China and the States, gained a little guanxi, learned a ton about law and business in China, and stared into the face of the world's Chinese future. As far as I can tell, we cannot avoid a world that will be increasingly dominated by China, like it or not. Yes, I've been busily brushing up my Mandarin that I studied back at BYU, and would encourage more of you to take Mandarin classes.

I had some wonderful conversations with the father of China's patent system, a kind and wise man that I respect. Before I rushed off to the airport today, he told me that he had met other Mormons and went on about how he respects their values and goodness and so forth. Naturally, I told him that we have plenty of problems and aren't all that good, but I was grateful to hear his kind comments.

I don't know when religious freedom will become a reality in China, but that time will come and may catch us all by surprise. Will the Church be ready for that amazing day?

Qing nimen dou yubei hao.

16 comments:

Mormanity said...

One more thing: after spending much of the past two weeks in Manhattan, I return to Appleton, Wisconsin quite disheartened about the utter indaequacy of one significant part of my past life: pizza. I now must face the painful realization that the pizza I've enjoyed all these years is woefully substandard (my wife's pizza excepted - but it's a completely different style). New York has the best pizza on earth, as far as I can tell. And bagels, too. I am still surprised at how cheaply and well one can eat there if one turns to pizza shops and delis.

ip dragon said...

Hi Jeff,

I am trying to gather, comment and share information about intellectual property in China for IP Dragon http://ipdragon.blogspot.com and writing a thesis about in the process, to make the subject more transparant (You see, I am preparing myself too). I am very interested in the conference you attended.
For example I really would like to know who the father of Chinese patent law is and what he said.
If you want to share any more information about the conference please send me an email to ipdragon(at)gmail.com, or leave a comment or write about it on your own website. I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

Cheers,
IP Dragon

annegb said...

Also, Amira, on The Road to Samarquand just returned from China. She might have some insight.

I can't wait for China to open to the church. I think we will see a Tsunami of converts and it will rock our world.

Floyd the Wonderdog said...

I have considered studying a foreign language in preparation for my Senior Mission in 10 to 15 years. I’ve considered Bengali and Mandarin. We’re relatively close to the University of Michigan, where both are taught. Any ideas as to what languages are in demand for Senior Missionaries?

Bookslinger said...

(one-note johnny time)
Floyd,
Your senior mission might even be a foreign-language-speaking mission in the United States.

In the past 20 months, I've been able to place somewhere between 150 and 180 Chinese Books of Mormon at Chinese restaurants. (And most of the time they receive an English along with the Chinese.)

I've placed less than 16 in Bengali, at places like gas stations, convenience stores, and one or two at laundromats.

In Indianapolis, Mandarin-speaking missionaries could easily find two or three new families to teach every week. And we already have a few Mandarin-speaking members, both ethnic Chinese and anglos, around whom we could build a dependent branch.

The Chinese-speaking people I've met at restaurants have mostly been the kind of humble people who are teachable. The bilingual nature of the Book of Mormon (giving away copies in Chinese/English) causes many to delve right into reading it.

I've also picked up a hint that many Chinese are curious as to what the whole "Christianity thing" is about, perhaps because it is controlled and frowned upon by the Chinese government.

Many times, after I put the Chinese Book of Mormon on the table, the wait staff starts the conversation.

If you have a Best Buy near you, look on the $9.99 CD rack for "31 Languages" by Transparent Languages. It has a good start. I prefer Transparent's method over competitor Topics brand.

If you want a full-blown Chinese course on either computer CD or Audio CD, check out www.transparent.com

Bookslinger said...

Floyd,
I'll make the same offer to you as I did to Jeff.

I'll send you a few copies of the Book of Mormon in Simplified Chinese(China), Traditional Chinese (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia), and English.

You go eat at Chinese restaurants (you pay the tab), and lay out the 3 books on the table. If the waitress doesn't start the conversation, you ask him/her "Do you like to read in Chinese?" And see what happens.

Oftentimes, the whole staff wants in on the act. I've given out as many as 13 books to 7 people in one restaurant visit.

Ian said...

Floyd,
Your senior mission might even be a foreign-language-speaking mission in the United States.


This may very well be possible. I served in Arcadia California and we had a lot of Chinese people in our mission. We had, I think, 4 Chinese speaking companionships in the mission. They had some interesting experiences etc. We roomed with two of them.

I personally don't think that the opening up of China is too far off (and look, it hasn't taken a war :-))

ltbugaf said...

I remember that in the early 1980s I had the sense the the opening of China was just a breath away, whereas the Soviet Union would take much longer. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Bookslinger,

If Transparent Language had Biblical Greek and Hebrew, I would be tempted to get the course.

jonathan3d said...

Jeff, great post. As I've worked in China over the years, I've been stunned at the rapidity of the changes there. The media has covered this quite a bit, but when you walk through the cities and see wealth beyond what you see in the U.S., it is stunning. Sure, there are still vast areas of poverty in the countryside, but Americans are transferring money over there so fast it's impossible to conceptualize how quickly the world is tilting toward China.

As far as the gospel being accepted, though, that's an entirely different issue from their acceptance of free markets. China has a long tradition of entrepreneurial activity that was only squelched about the time the Communists took over (when they also banned traditional polygamy, for that matter).

There are many unique LDS aspects that the Chinese seem to appreciate, including genealogy, organization and discipline in the Church, temple worship, and the WoW (although the Chinese have the same WoW problems as people everywhere do), but overall, I think it will be very difficult to persuade the Chinese people that a religion that didn't originate in China is more "true" than their native beliefs.

Shadow Spawn said...

ltbugaf said...
I remember that in the early 1980s I had the sense the the opening of China was just a breath away, whereas the Soviet Union would take much longer. Go figure.

Because of some things contained in my patriarichal blessing, pertaining to preaching the Gospel to Nations "who are not worthy to hear the Gospel at this time." I was sure I'd be going to China on a mission most of my teenage years ( 1980s ) I ended up in Hungary, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Who'd have guessed?

Mormanity said...

Bookslinger, I did manage to give out two Mandarin Books of Mormon in New York (and two English books). Thanks again for your kind donation to my library!

One interesting fact about China: According to Nokia, 29% of the Chinese people have mobile phones. When I was there 20 years ago, it was a huge challenge finding a phone while I was at a major university in Beijing. Also, when I was there, the streets were crowded with bicycles. Now it's cars. China is said to be the top importer of BMWs right now.

The image of China being a backward country of impoverished peasants is no longer accurate. There is still plenty of poverty, but many are becoming wealthy, the literacy rate is about 90% (according to one presenter at the conference I attended), and some of the world's brightest scientists and engineers are in China. You may have noted that the Chinese are no longer dominating the graduate schools of American universities in science and engineering: that's because they don't need to come to the US anymore to get a world-class education. They can stay in China, where some of the world's finest universities are.

I hear politicians tell Americans that our future is secure, in spite of all the manufacturing jobs being lost to China, because we lead in technology. Baloney. China is building a massive infrastructure to dominate in science and technology. Some of the world's best-funded nanotech research is being conducted in China. The technology that we have sent over there is being used and improved aggressively and will soon outshine the US in many ways.

China is the future, like it or not. I'd suggest learning Mandarin (or even Shanghaiese) over Bengali - but that's just my opinion based on numbers.

Shadow Spawn said...

I agree that China is a force to be reckoned with, so don't get me wrong here, but If the Chinese truly want to unlock the potential of their country, and the talents buried within the population, then they MUST abandon the current human rights-crushing, forced-baby-aborting, communist government. Communisim, and prosperity can only conicide so far.

Personally, I'd love to see the day when the Chinese throw off their "chains". What a culture, and a history they have to be proud of.

ltbugaf said...

Currently our government takes the position that engagement with China will do more for the human rights of the Chinese than isolation will. Is this right? Or are we just funding oppression? It looks like, as long as we're making money, we don't pay much attention to human rights. Our isolation of North Korea and Cuba contrast starkly with the billions we pump into the Chinese economy.

Anonymous said...

I also look forward to the day China opens to the church, but it is already happening to some degree, with a Chinese congregation currently meeting in Shanghai. For those interested in brushing up on Church Chinese, please visit my site at http://www.mandarintools.com/lds.html. It has the Book of Mormon in Chinese with pinyin pronunciation above each character.

Justpassingby said...

I attend the Chinese ward in Salt Lake City. We had a baptism last week and also one a week before that. Both were converts who were originally from China or Taiwan. In our ward, there are least a couple baptisms every few months, sometimes sooner.

We've had some interesting meetings with General Authorities of the Church about the role of Mandarin/Cantonese speaking members in that part of the world, as well as America.

In my view, just coming from my experiences in Taiwan, the women for the most part, are more than ready for the gospel. They are humble, geniune, and intelligent. The men have to rid some of the flaws at the core of the culture, like some issues with male dominance and word of wisdom issues (specifically smoking and tea).

About the problems facing China specifically, the Church understands that the goverment MUST abandon socialism completely for the gospel to really bless the lives of that area. Not only will the gospel act as a springboard for a true human rights transformation but a cultural one as well.

Exciting times ahead when the world's largest population (and naturally the world's most-spoken language, mandarin) is open and waiting for the gospel. Do the members of the Church really know how amazing that is? Do you know how many centuries this area has waited for the gospel? I can't wait to be part of it. How exciting will it be when there are more temples in China, alone, than any other area in the world? Is it possible? Yes!