Christian Influence On Shanghai Essay

1221 words - 5 pages

Churches and priests may not be the first image that come to mind when discussing Shanghai, but they are nonetheless an important part of Shanghai's culture and history. The presence of the Christian church contributed greatly to the cosmopolitanism of Shanghai. Some of the first Westerners to live in Shanghai were missionaries and they played an important role in constructing an enticing image of Shanghai. Moreover, Christian institutions of education continue their contribution to Shanghai cosmopolitanism today. In addition, Shanghai is comparatively more friendly towards Christianity than other Chinese cities, which enhances Shanghai's appeal to prospective Christian immigrants. Furthermore, the presence of foreign religions create a cosmopolitan essence to Shanghai's community. Christianity was an important part of Shanghai's transformation into a worldly multicultural city since the beginning of this process.
Christian missionaries were a major component of Shanghai's first connections with the Western world. Jesuit presence in Shanghai led to the conversion of notable locals and there were approximately 135 chapels in the Shanghai area by the middle of the seventeenth century.1 Some of the initial settlers of the foreign concession in Shanghai created after the First Opium War were missionaries.2 Along with being members of Shanghai's increasingly cosmopolitan community, missionaries at the time also played an instrumental role in projecting Shanghai's image to the rest of the world through their reports of Shanghai back to the Europe and America. The missionaries highlighted the opportunities for converting the local population, which attracted an influx of more missionaries and other religious affiliates.3 Moreover, conversions of the local Chinese also brought the Chinese community closer with the rising number of foreign settlers. Many Chinese catholic converts lived in the foreign settlement and the chaos of the Christianity inspired Taiping rebellion pressured the Shanghailanders to allow more Chinese into the foreign concessions.4 The increased number of Chinese Christians encouraged Western missionaries and priests to open up religious schools and universities, which imparted ideas to the Chinese outside of religion.
Christian institutions of education significantly fostered intellectual development in Shanghai and continue to draw visitors from all over the world. During the late 19th and early 20th century, Christian Clergymen from France and Britain opened Fudan university, Aurora University and Saint John's University. Saint John's university split up into a series of specialist schools in Shanghai that continue thriving today. Aurora university merged into Fudan university, which remains one of the premier institutions of education not only in China, but in the world. Today, these schools attract students from all over the world and offer employment opportunities for distinguished foreign academics. Fudan university...

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