Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will visit China from April 24 to 26

The head of the Anglican communion will go to Beijing and Shanghai and then to Hong Kong. He will meet the new leaders of the Three-Self Movement. No meeting with unofficial Protestant communities, which are the majority.


London (AsiaNews) - Justin Welby, head of the Anglican Church and Archbishop of Canterbury, will visit China from April24 to 26, reports the official website of the archbishopric. Welby and his wife will be guests of the Three-Self Movement, the umbrella body for all the official Protestant communities in China, and the State Administration for Religious Affairs.

The short program includes visits to Beijing and Shanghai, followed by a visit to Hong Kong for a meeting with the Anglican Advisory Council.

The main reason for the trip to China is the meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the new official Protestant leaders elected at the 10th National Conference of Chinese Christians in November 2018.

Speaking before his trip, Welby said: "The Anglican Communion and the Chinese church have strong links and I am looking forward to strengthening these even further with the new church leadership. Together, and in learning from each other, we can humbly explore the various ways in which we, as Christian leaders, can best equip our communities to address the many challenges facing our world today".

The statement of the archbishopric of Canterbury does not cite any visit to the unofficial Protestant communities, which constitute the majority of Protestant Christians in China (about 80 million). They prefer to worship in domestic churches, accusing the Three-Self movement of being in the service of the Chinese Communist Party. It gathers around 20 million Protestants.

On the other hand, the official Protestant leaders accuse the domestic churches of being "in the service of foreign powers". Last March in Beijing, during a session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCP), Xu Xiaohong, president of the National Commission of the Three Self Patriotic Movement, declared that Christianity in China " must face its sinization with greater commitment, according to the dictates of President Xi Jinping, and must fight against foreign influences that want to subvert the state through faith ".

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