“Printed In China”

I recently bought a new Bible at my local Christian book store.  I wanted to have something less bulky than my old study Bibles — something convenient in size for taking to church.  Plus, the version I had been using was different from the version usually read in church, so looked for something in the right size, right translation, and hopefully in the right price range.

What I found fit all my requirements.  Or so I thought at the time.  It came in a sealed paper and plastic package that prevented me from leafing through it before I purchased it, but the outside of the package showed a sample of the actual print size, and it looked fine to me.

After opening it, my first use of it was to look up Scripture verses in church.  During my daily Bible reading I had been reading through the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern.  But when I finished Revelation I decided to start my next read-through at Genesis in my new Bible.  That’s when I decided to read the stuff that precedes “In the beginning” — you know, the table of contents, the preface, etc.

That’s when I saw it… “Printed in China”.  I was stunned.  At first I was exasperated at the very idea that almost everything we buy nowadays is made in China.  Then I thought about it some more.  “Wait,” I thought.  “Isn’t it illegal to print Bibles in China?”

I did a search for “bibles printed in China” and found articles like this one which I found eye-opening:


First off, China is the world’s largest producer of Bibles.  That in itself isn’t earth-shattering.  After all, China’s population is the largest in the world, and the last I heard, China was responsible for half of all manufacturing in the world.  But most of the Bibles China prints is for distribution outside China.  Now, that’s interesting.

Another interesting factoid is that the only place where Bibles may be legally sold in China is at the officially approved churches.  But Christians in rural areas are unable to buy Bibles.  Outside those approved churches, Bibles are not otherwise made available to the general public.  And under the repressive Communist regime, bulk purchases for groups of believers are not done.  The government wants all Christians “registered”.  So, in China, Bible ownership is kind of like gun ownership is in the U.S.  Most Chinese Christians belong to unregistered churches and are unable to obtain Bibles, short of a small number smuggled into the country.

Something else that might make you go “Hmmm…” is the fact that only one publisher is legally approved to print and distribute Bibles in all of China — Amity Press.  So, what’s up with my new Bible?  It wasn’t published by Amity.  It was published by Crossway, whose address is in Wheaton, Illinois.  Does Crossway have a sweetheart deal with Amity?  Or does China allow other printers to print Bibles in China as long as those Bibles are only intended for distribution outside China?

This situation is a moral outrage on two levels.  First of all, that the Chinese enterprise of printing Bibles — the largest in the world — is specifically designed to keep Bibles out of the hands of some Christians, and secondly, that unwitting Christians all over the world — mostly in America — are underwriting this injustice.  Not only people like me who are buying these Bibles, but bookstores, distributors and especially the publishers themselves are culpable for their financial support of China’s repressive system.

Is this just business as usual?  Is this just a blip on the screen in the otherwise rosy picture of the global economy?  I for one don’t think so.  I don’t like it, and I don’t think Christians anywhere should put up with it.  Before I read “Printed in China”, I simply wasn’t aware.  But now, I want to see where my Bible or Christian book is printed before I buy it.  The next time you’re shopping for a Bible or any Christian printed material, check to see where it was printed.  If it says, “Printed in China” don’t buy it.   If you’re shopping on line and can’t look yourself, ask the vender before you shell out your money.

If “Printed in China” is a moral outrage to you, then please join the Bible boycott.  Contact the venders and publishers you deal with and let them know that since you’re free to buy a Bible, all the people in China should be free to do the same.  A government that restricts Bible distribution does not deserve any financial support of its economy from Christians.  Until China changes its church registration and Bible sales laws, boycott their Bibles!

About retiredday

I am Michael D. Day, a regular, everyday guy -- retired. I stand for God-given freedom, which means I think for myself. I believe in being civil, because the Bible teaches that we should love our enemies. But I also believe in saying it how I see it, and explaining just why I see it that way, sort of like 2 Timothy 4:2.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christian Attitudes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to “Printed In China”

  1. messiah gate says:

    It is amazing what the Holy Spirit has done in China. In 1949 there were 4 million Christians in China. Today, there are 67 million. This rate of growth exceeds that in the United States. A leader of the persecuted church in China said, “It’s not as if America found Christ and were wanting. It’s that the Americans never found Him in the first place.” What a sobering judgement of a so-called “Christian” nation where the average reader owns 3.6 Bibles.


  2. retiredday says:

    I agree with what you say about the growth of the church in China. By far, the greatest numbers of salvations in the world today are happening in the southern hemisphere — Africa, Asia and South America. But here in America, as in Europe, the spread of Christianity is not so robust. I think this is the result of 2 things: Our affluence makes it easier for people to be deceived into thinking they don’t need God– that faith is optional; and the trend of the last century has been to replace Biblical institutions and values with secular institutions and values. When “everything’s relative” anything goes.

    There was a time when America could accurately be described as a Christian nation. Our history and founding documents demonstrate that fact. But for obvious reasons, that moniker is not presently appropriate. As a nation, we are indeed found lacking now. However, I do not agree “It’s that the Americans never found Him in the first place.” That statement paints with too broad a brush. Historically, American Christians have proved their faith in many ways. I don’t know what the context was of the quote you cite. I choose to see it as hyperbole. Surely a Christian leader would not condemn the faithful believers in America for the actions and policies of a government that no longer represents them.


    • messiah gate says:

      Zhao Xiao is a leader in the underground church in China. He was a Party Member economist who came to America to study Christianity and the market economy. He explained what the Bible means to him: “I discovered that this kind of book China does not have. China does have morality books. For instance, the Analects of Confucius teaches people morality. China also has very philosophical works, for example, Laozi. China also has many intelligent writings, for instance, the Buddhist texts. But China does not have a book like the Bible. The Bible is a book that claims inspiration from the will of God. It talks about the history of the relationship between God and human beings. We know that in the Bible, for instance, there are the Ten Commandments. These are contracts God signed with humans, and this kind of book does not exist in China.” Zhao believes that in less than 20 years thirty percent of the Chinese population will be Christian. They will need a whole lot of Bibles!


  3. messiah gate says:

    The underground church in China sees a disconnect in a nation where 79% of the population say they believe in God yet 56 million babies have been aborted. To point out that China aborts 13 million babies each year the underground church leader would say, “Yes, but we are not a majority. If America knew Jesus Christ this should not happen.”


  4. retiredday says:

    Abortion law is one of those things that in a representational government should reflect the moral values of the majority. Does it? A lot of Christians have worked hard to stop the on-going mass murder of unborn babies. But equally, a lot of Christians just don’t get involved.

    This is what dismayed me about the 2012 election. Half of all registered voters didn’t even vote. (Who knows how many didn’t bother to register in the first place.) I recently encountered a Christian blog where the writer proudly stated he never voted, and many of those who commented also did not “dirty their hands” in the “temporary” things of this world. They seem to assume this attitude is a “noble” virtue, when in fact, the non-participation of Christians in politics enables the institution of godless social policies by their tacit approval.

    American Christians will have to face God’s judgement for this very real disconnect, but I personally disagree with Zhao Xiao when he says that Americans never found Jesus in the first place. This is hyperbole, just as his statement, “this kind of book does not exist in China”. There may not be enough Bibles in China for all the Christians, but Bibles do exist in China.


  5. messiah gate says:

    Please forgive my lack of clarity. The Chinese leader who indicted the American church is anonymous. Zhao Xiao had his doubts, as well, until he actually visited the United States. This is what he said: “I started to observe American churches, to go inside churches and observe. Inside these churches, I saw some very touching scenes — they were all very friendly; they were all so happy. Especially when I saw couples of 70 or 80 years of age who were still like young people just falling in love, this really moved me. I saw the friendship and goodwill among people — that joy that comes from the depths of the heart — and the mutual love. This really moved me.” Zhao said that this kind of love is unknown in traditional Chinese writings, but is clearly taught in the Bible.


  6. retiredday says:

    I appreciate your comments. You have made some important points that American Christians should think about. Thank you!


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