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Eastern Christianity

The Orthodox Church of China

Doctrines On all major issues the Orthodox Church of China is in agreement with other Eastern Orthodox churches (See Eastern Orthodoxy.)

History The Orthodox tradition was transplanted onto Chinese soil in 1686 when a group of Cossacks serving in the Chinese imperial guard brought their chaplain with them. However, it was only in the next century that Eastern Orthodoxy was permanently established in China. This was achieved when Missionaries from the Russian Orthodox Church set up a mission in Peking in 1715. During the next two hundred years missionary activity was relatively slow; by 1914 the church had only acquired about 5000 converts.
The situation changed in 1917 following the Russian revolution which caused hundreds of thousands of Russians to flee Russia into China. By 1939 there were an estimated 300,000 adherents of Eastern Orthodoxy in China.
The situation changed again in 1949 when a Communist government was established in China under Mao Tse Tung and foreign missionaries where expelled from the country. Fortunately, for the Orthodox Church in China the Russians had by that time established a seminary to train Chinese priests. In 1950 the first Chinese orthodox bishop was consecrated; a second was consecrated in 1957.
The Orthodox Church, like other traditions, was driven underground 1966 when institutional religion was abolished by the state and the excesses of the Cultural Revolution were beginning to take place. Since that time it has been difficult to obtain information about the state of the church. It is to be hoped that recent changes in Chinese politics will enable members of the Orthodox Church of China to practice their beliefs unhindered by state interference.

Symbols Virgin Mary as Theotokos, Christ as Pantocrator. (See Eastern Orthodoxy.)

Adherents It is extremely difficult to estimate the number of adherents within the church since it has been operating underground in recent decades. Estimates in its size vary from 10,000-20,000 (Ware 1963,14).

Main Centre
 The main centre for Eastern Orthodoxy in China has been Harbin where the Eastern Orthodox theological seminary was established.