from February 17, 1997
The meeting of the Holy Synod under the chairmanship of the Patriarch
The report of the Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad about the present situation of the Orthodox Church in China.
Since 17th century Russian missionaries have enlightened Chinese people. In 1713, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church established the Russian Spiritual Mission in China, the main tasks of which at the beginning were the pastoral care of Orthodox people in Beijing, scientific work and carrying out the diplomatic functions. After the signing of the Treaty the Tianjin in 1864, providing foreigners with religious freedom, the activity of the Russian missionaries started developing. In 1901, a decision was made about appointing Archimandrite Innokenty (Figurovsky) a bishop with responsibilities to exercise pastoral care of Orthodox people, living in China, Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet. In 1902, the Holy Synod made a decision to glorify 222 Chinese Martyrs, tormented during the Yihetuan uprising . Since 1918 the Russian Spiritual Mission in China was isolated from any connections with Russia and later subordinated to the schism of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. On December 27, 1945 according to the resolution of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, Far East eparchies in the territory of China were received by the Moscow Patriarchate, at the request by Metropolitan MELETIUS of Harbin and the Chief of the Mission Archbishop Victor and their vicars. In June 1946, the East Asian Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate (including Harbin and Beijing eparchies) was established in the territory of China. In 1957, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to grant autonomy to the Chinese Orthodox Church. The Chinese Orthodox Church was headed by Bishop Vasily (Yao Shuanglin) of Beijing. During the Cultural Revolution all the Orthodox churches were closed, many priests were persecuted, and sent into exile. Some of them were even killed.
The Orthodox Church's revival has begun since the mid-1980s. In 1986, divine services in the Protection (Pokrov) of the Theotokos Church of Harbin resumed. In the nineties our contacts with the Orthodox Church in China became more active. In 1993 a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church headed by the Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad visited China. The Chinese delegation headed by priest Gregory Zhu (the only Orthodox priest in China now) made a return visit. The spiritual connections between Habarovsk and Harbin eparchies strengthened.
On January 31, 1994, "The Provisions on the Administration of Religious Activities of Aliens within the territory of the People's Republic of China" came into effect. This document permitted foreign clergymen to celebrate divine services at the invitation of Chinese religious organizations and upon authorization of the State Administration of Religious Affairs under the State Council of the People's Republic of China.
Since the time the autonomy was granted, the name of the head of the Mother Church - the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia is commemorated during the divine services in all the churches of the Chinese Autonomous Church. In 1996 the rector of the church in Harbin Gregory Zhu was given holy myrrh and antimension by the Moscow Patriarchate.