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Economist Dr. Zhao Welcomes Moral Reforms to Growing China

November 19th, 2009

By Cate Pilgrim

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

Full audience hears from Chinese economist Dr. Zhao Xiao in Barbara Hodel Center Grand Lobby, Nov. 9

An audience of over one hundred and seventy students, faculty, staff, and community visitors heard from one of China’s most influential economists, Dr. Zhao Xiao, on November 9. He had chosen PHC as his one and only lecture venue during his recent visit to the United States. Assisted by a translator and a Powerpoint presentation, Dr. Zhao concluded that only countries with stable moral foundations possess a strong market economy.

Although a member of the Communist Party and a fervent Chinese patriot, Dr. Zhao called in his talk for proactive, Bible-based, moral and economic reforms to allow his country to become “a nation of integrity and a blessing to the world.” Inside an undeniable time of economic vitality in his beloved country, China still faces challenges in the areas of social justice, rampant pollution, and ingrained political corruption.

Since 1980, China’s annual GDP growth rate has averaged close to 10 percent, a phenomenon that has never been matched by Western powers. Market analysts forecast China’s potential GDP for 2009 to remain high, and predict that in the next ten years, per capita GDP in China will exceed that in the U.S. by $10,000. In recent decades, China’s subsistence (rural) population has dropped from 250 million to 20 million, and Dr. Zhao thinks now is the time for his nation to embrace not Western, but Christian, values.

He noted that while no one overlooks China’s economic explosion, many overlook its Christian growth. The government estimates the Christian population in China at 20 million, but Dr. Zhao said it was well over 180 million. “The essence of China’s modern transition is not political or economic,” he said. “It is spiritual.”

Citing historical examples and utilizing a formidable eloquence, Dr. Zhao presented economic statistics and predictions mixed with his own Christian philosophy to argue that tomorrow’s China has an unparalleled opportunity to become “a city on a hill” if only Christianity will be allowed into the country as a stabilizing economic  and social factor. “For three thousand years, China has been in the “no Cross” category,” Dr. Zhao said. “This time China’s transition can be different – it can be with the Cross.”

From L to R: PHC Professor of History and Writer in Resident, Dr. David Aikman; Dr. Zhao Xiao; PHC Instructor of Economics (and organizer of event), Nathan Russell

Daoism and Buddhism, “traditional” Chinese religions, fail to appreciate the full value of human life. If Christianity, like the other two religions, is allowed to integrate into the Confucian basis of Chinese culture, it will provide “a broader, deeper, stronger cultural foundation”, said Dr. Zhao. “On this platform, China will reform its modern culture.”

 “Here, heaven and hell coexist,” Dr. Zhao said, contrasting photos of starving street urchins with their wealthy socialite neighbors. “China needs to incubate a stronger middle class and promote a majority of middle-income families,” he said.

Among other issues, Dr. Zhao encouraged the growth of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Non-political organizations (NPOs), noting the positive role they played in bringing aid to the Chinese victims of last May’s deadly earthquakes. “What Zhao is really interested in is getting the idea of NGOs involved in providing framework [in China],” commented Dr. David Aikman following the lecture. “He understands NGOs need to be part of the process of promoting a society of community and cooperation.”

Dr. Zhao, who personally started the Cypress Leadership Institute to train up Chinese leaders to be “salt and light,” believes that if allowed to flourish, NGO/NPOs will be instrumental in China’s struggles with modern slavery, unemployment, civil conflicts, and rampant immorality.

Following a brief Q & A session after the lecture, Dr. Zhao grinned. “Ten years ago, if I said these things, I would probably get in trouble.” Shortly before making that statement, Dr. Zhao fielded an apologetics question from PHC professor and famous apologist Dr. John W. Montgomery concerning the Chinese philosophy of harmony and Confucius. Dr. Zhao maintained that if Confucius was alive today, he would be a Christian, because God’s Word brings ultimate harmony.  

His parting words to his still captivated audience were, “Brothers and Sisters, keep praying for China.”