Lee, Joseph Tse-Hei
May 2013
Chinese Historical Review;May2013, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p33
Academic Journal
Case Study
This article examines the role of Western missionaries and Chinese Christians as new powerbrokers in the competitive arena of rural politics in South China during the post-Boxer decade (1900-10). Focusing on four well-documented lawsuits involving Christians in the Chaozhou-speaking region of Guangdong province, this study shows that the power relationship between Christians and non-Christians had undergone a qualitative change since 1901. The crushing of the Boxers increased the prestige of Western missions and Chinese churches on the land, and it was this prestige that made it possible for native Church leaders to use the judicial process to effect changes in their favor and to enforce settlement agreements at the county courts. Litigation became an important tool of unifying and empowering rural Christian communities. These case studies not only provide insight into the local management of treaty rights and foreign affairs but also highlight the instrumental role of the churches in China during a time of rapid and profound change.


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