Four years ago I posted a column on our website about Lou Tseng-tsiang, a Prime Minister in the Chinese Republic in the early 1900s. While serving in his post Lou Tseng, who had been Protestant, converted to the Catholic Faith, under the influence of his devout Belgian wife. You can read about him here. After her death, Lou entered a Benedictine monastery in Belgium, was ordained, and later become the abbot and a bishop.
Andrew Cusack has just written a fascinating article based upon the advice Lou Tseng-tsiang’s mentor, Xu Jingcheng (sometime Ambassador to the Court of the Tsars in St. Petersburg), gave him when they worked together in Russia: “Europe’s strength,” he said, “is found not in her armaments, nor in her knowledge — it is found in her religion. … Observe the Christian faith. When you have grasped its heart and its strength, take them and give them to China.”
Cusack notes that Professor Zhao Xiao, a prominent Chinese economist at the University of Science & Technology Beijing, and a member of the Communist Party, recently postulated for the consideration of China’s economists and businessmen that Christianity would be good for China’s business. Here is a clip:
“If my motivation for doing business is the glory of God, there is a motivation that transcends profits. I cannot go and use evil methods. If I used some evil methods to enlarge the company, to earn money, then this is not bringing glory to God. Therefore, this is to say that it [bringing glory to God] can provide a transcendent motivation for business. And this kind of transcendental motivation not only benefits an entrepreneur by making his business conduct proper but it can also benefit the entrepreneur’s continued innovation.”
“There is no culture that can match Christianity’s degree of prizing love, because what it emphasizes is a form of unconditional love, a love for everyone, including those who are not lovable, including those who have hurt you or oppressed you. You have to love them, regardless of whether they are good or bad to you, regardless of whoever they are, you must love them. . . .”
And the lede: CHRISTIANITY HAS A LONG and varied history in China stretching over at least one-and-a-half millenia. The ancient country has even had Christian leaders, such as the Congregationalist founder of the Chinese Republic, Sun Yat-sen, and his Methodist successor, Gen. Chiang Kai-shek (head of the Kuomintang for nearly forty years). Still, until I read this fascinating story in the Catholic Herald I had no idea that there was a Prime Minister of China, Lou Tseng-tsiang, who ended his days as a Benedictine monk by the name of Dom Pierre-Célestin. Lou was born a Protestant in Shanghai in 1871, but married a Belgian woman and eventually converted to Catholicism. Serving his country in the diplomatic arena, he accomplished extensive reforms of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, avoided becoming part of any of the various factions that divided the government, and was one of the founding members of the Chinese Society of International Law. Lou bravely stood up to the indignities imposed upon China through the 1919 Treaty of Versailles by refusing to sign the shameful document which sewed the seeds of future disaster. Full article is here.