May God Bless the Manchukuo: Manchuria and the Transformation of China-Vatican Relationship
On October 19, 2017, the renowned historian of modern China, Dr. Thomas Dubois, gave a speech at the Sigur Center of Asian Studies of the George Washington University. Dr. DuBois has taught at universities in the US, Singapore, and Australia, and is currently a fellow of the History and Anthropology Project at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The speech was co-sponsored by the Sigur Center and the Department of Religion at the George Washington University and the CCK Foundation’s Inter-University for Sinology grant.
The title of Dr. Dubois’s speech was: “May God Bless the Manchukuo: Manchuria and the Transformation of China-Vatican Relationship.” He points out that the relationship between China and the Vatican remains one of the global touchstones in the diplomatic personality of religion. Before the mid-twentieth century, this relationship was further mediated by national missions, resulting in a series of doctrinal and administrative struggles over the Catholic Church in Asia. This long-simmering dispute was brought to a head in 1932 by the question of who within the Church had the political authority to respond to the formation of a Japanese client state in Manchuria. The response to this crisis initiated a new era of Catholic diplomacy, and presaged the changes that would reshape global Catholicism after the Second Vatican Council. This perspective shows that recent rapprochement between China and the Vatican is not an aberration, but a return to the normal state of Catholic diplomacy.