09/24/2011, 00.00
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China is building churches for Christians. In Africa

The Chinese construction companies offer lower prices and better conditions. The paradox of a country where religious freedom is denied, which builds houses of worship elsewhere, and prints Bibles for Christians who within its borders cannot practice their faith.
Nairobi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Chinese companies are building churches in Africa for all the various Christian denominations, taking over a job in the past occupied by Europe, and more recently by U.S. companies. At the Basilica of the Holy Family in Nairobi, for example, the Zhongxing Construction company is building a new building for the offices of the archdiocese of Nairobi.

"We worked with them previously, and we had a positive experience. We held a public competition, and they presented the best offer," said an official of the diocese. In the past, countries that sent missionaries to Africa also built places of worship. "Our brothers in faith, along with their companies helped to build churches. Now China has become a world power and wants to have a grip on Africa too”, said Ugandan Anglican Bishop Stanley Ntagali of Masindi-Kitara diocese in an interview.

In Kenya, the Chinese are building houses for the staff of the Archdiocese of Nairobi, as well as erecting a church for a national Pentecostal group, Evangelist Ministers of the faith. Another company, Fubeco Ltd (China Funshin) is building, the Catholic church of Our Lady of the Rosary, in Kiambu near Nairobi. The same company had built Luther Plaza, the headquarters of the Lutheran Church of Kenya. China, moreover, is a leading partner in trade with Africa, in 2009, surpassing both France and the UK. And in the construction sector regularly beats competitors offering lower costs.

China is also printing most of the Bibles used by Christians in Africa. Although religious freedom in China, especially for Christian denominations not recognized by the regime, is denied. Amity Printing Company, has doubled the number of Bibles printed in 2007, from six to 12 millions copies. And most of them spill out onto the African market. "The contracts go to China to print Bibles because it offers lower prices than any country in the West," says Jesse Mugambi, a professor of sociology of religion at the University of Nairobi.
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