Six delegates from the official Protestant China Christian Council and from the church-state liaison body, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, have visited the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT).
Given the long-standing dispute over the sovereignty of Taiwan, and the differences between the churches on this issue, the meeting – the first of its kind – is being seen as a further significant thawing in relations.
‘Three-self’ refers to the policy of the recognised churches in mainland China of being self-financing, self-organising and self-perpetuating.
The visit took place on November 16. The Chinese delegation included associate general secretaries from both organizations and seminary presidents from different regions of China.
In recent years, the China Christian Council, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs, have visited Taiwan several times. But this has not involved the PCT.
According to press reports, officials of the State Administration for Religious Affairs had planned to visit the PCT two years ago during a trip to Taiwan, but that pre-arranged visit was cancelled at the last minute.
The Chinese church delegates were in Taiwan for a cross-strait forum on modern city churches and had not originally planned to visit the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan.
The PCT General Secretary, Andrew Chang, who strongly encouraged Chinese church leaders to examine PCT’s role in Taiwanese society and its social activism, expressed pleasure at the visit.
There was an exchange of gifts during the delegation’s meeting as each side offered gifts symbolic of their country’s culture. At the end of the visit, leaders from both sides stood together for a picture marking the historic moment.