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The Plain Truth – February 1980
The Plain Truth – February 1980
The Good News Goes To China

by Herbert W. Armstrong

Here is Mr. Armstrong’s personal report of the first official visit by a church leader from the world of Christianity to the capital of Communist China.

IN thirty-five minutes I shall leave the government’s guest “State House” to address 76 ambassadors, their wives and other government representatives from as many different nations and a number of officials from the People’s Republic of China, at the People’s Great Hall. Last night I addressed some 400 people at a banquet at the Peking [Beijing] Duck Restaurant. Present were many leading government officials with their wives, and a number of educators from various universities.

Speaking to leaders here is speaking to the leaders of one fourth of all the people on earth today – one billion people! It is an awesome experience. But my address last night was enthusiastically received. It is now 9:30 p.m. and I am back in our apartment in the government’s guest State House, where Mrs. Armstrong and I are staying. In fact, all our party, including Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Rader, our aircraft crew, television and camera men, are also being housed here. Dinners and banquets begin promptly at 6 p.m. here, so we are back early. There is virtually no nightlife here. Almost no traffic on our drive back to our “home” in Peking [Beijing]. The People’s Great Hall, where tonight’s banquet was held, is a magnificent, large and stately building. Halls and rooms are extremely large by US standards. In fact everything I’ve seen here so far gives the impression of bigness and spaciousness. Main boulevards are not only wide, but all buildings are set back, I would estimate, about 75 feet, with service streets between the main boulevard and the buildings. The banquet tonight was held in a room about the size of an American football field, with very high ceilings and massive chandeliers.

There were ambassadors from 76 different nations there tonight. It was the usual 10-course dinner (I’m told they served an 8-course dinner for President Richard Nixon). This was the third dinner for me, and all were 10 courses. I was introduced tonight by Mr. Tokuo Yamashita, a ranking member of the Japanese Diet. They heard the GOOD NEWS of the coming KINGDOM OF GOD – though in this solidly atheist communist country, I described what’s coming, in our time, but not in Bible language.

The National Library

Wednesday, near noon, December 5: This morning we left the State House at 9 a.m. and visited the national library. This was a most interesting visit. The library now is housed in one of the older buildings. They are rapidly building up the volumes of books to a standard that will be a credit to the most populous nation on earth.

We were shown and allowed to examine some of the most ancient volumes, one an ancient scroll, a long roll, all done by hand about the 4th century, A.D., others up to 400 years ago. I was presented a beautiful book in color showing many photographs of China as it is today.

From the library we were driven in the limousine placed at our disposal to the “Forbidden City,” a walled smaller city within the city, which was the residence of former emperors. There are many buildings, courts and gardens within this “inner city,” all in the ancient Chinese architecture, with much stone carving.

On our arrival at the airport last Sunday, late afternoon, limousines had driven up to our aircraft, and we were driven to the city and to our quarters in the State House.

Immediately I noticed swarms of people everywhere on foot. After three days in Peking [Beijing], it has seemed that millions of people swarm the streets, walking, with multiple thousands of people on bicycles. Very little automobile traffic until we were nearing the city center, and then automobile traffic became more like the United States, mingled with swarms of bicycles, and still crowds afoot on the sidewalks.

The more modern buildings in Peking are large and spacious. One experiences the sense of BIGNESS and SPACIOUSNESS here. Of course Peking is a city of around seven million population, about the size of New York or London in population, but utterly different in atmosphere. This was distinctly CHINA!

All the above was written while in Peking, haphazardly, a bit at a time. It is somewhat disconnected, but since it was written on the spot while there, I will leave it.

We are now in Tokyo. There will be a large banquet here Saturday night, with members of the Japanese Diet and wives, ambassadors and wives from other nations, and members of the Chinese Embassy present.

I will try now to reconstruct the report of our visit to China in orderly sequence. But let me first say, it probably was the MOST IMPORTANT and most successful trip I have ever taken.

China Visit Begins

We arrived in Tokyo, after a two-day rest stop at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Friday evening, November 30. On Sunday, December 2, we flew to Peking [Beijing]. On arrival there, as stated above, government limousines drove to our aircraft. We were not required to go through the usual immigration and customs in the terminal. Our passports were taken as we entered the limousines and returned to us as we boarded four days later.

We were driven to the government’s guest State House. That evening there was a small dinner hosted by the president and vice-president of the Peking [Beijing] University in my honor – and a 10-course dinner. It was my first experience in Chinese dinners. I ate enough for an entire dinner on the first course – not realizing nine other courses were to follow. There were many toasts given to me, to Mr. Rader, to our wives and to others. I was allowed to drink the toasts with water instead of wine.

Monday night, December 3, was the largest dinner, with approximately 400 present. These included government and university officials and their wives, primarily. The speaking was led off by the ambassador from Liberia, who was seated to my left. Then Mr. Rader was called on for a short speech, after which I was introduced by Mr. Yamashita, a senior member of the Japanese Diet, whose daughter studied a year at Ambassador, Pasadena campus – he is the senior member of my “Japanese sons.” All speeches were made with an interpreter. This interpreter, by the way, is a professor of English at the university.

I followed. My address was taped and wired the same evening to Pasadena, so many have heard it in the United States.

Of course, where there must be an interpreter, there are two microphones, and the speaker can say only a sentence or two, then must pause while the interpreter repeats it in Chinese.

But, although in a communist and atheistic-oriented country, I did not use Bible language, I did get over to them the GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, announcing the coming ONE-WORLD GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Instead of the word God, which might sound hostile to them, I spoke of the “unseen Strong Hand from someplace” that will intervene and bring WORLD PEACE.

The message was well received. I heard expressions saying I had given them “much to think about.”

Tuesday we made an early start and were driven to the GREAT WALL of China – surely one of the “seven wonders of the world” in terms of man-built wonders. The wall is about 3,600 miles long, and on top is wide enough for a two-lane highway.

Tuesday night was a banquet with ambassadors representing 76 nations, and many wives, beside Chinese officials and wives. It was this dining room, in the People’s Great Hall, the official government building, that was the size of a U.S. football field. Most of those present understood English, so I spoke without an interpreter. Again I gave them the “GOOD NEWS of the coming Kingdom of God” – perhaps in even stronger and more plain language. Again it was more than well received.

It is important to understand I was speaking to officials from 76 OTHER nations this night. Many of the banquets and dinners of the past 10 years have afforded me the opportunity to speak to official representatives of many nations. There were ambassadors representing 19 countries at a luncheon in Ethiopia a few years ago.

When the prophecy says, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations” (Matthew 24:14), it does not necessarily mean IN all nations. Much of that prophecy was fulfilled on December 4, when the GOOD NEWS of the KINGDOM was proclaimed to official representatives of 76 nations! This included nations from Africa, Europe, Asia, South America – pretty well spreading out to all the earth!

I will not recount here what I said that night, since it was taped, and thousands of our readers will have heard it before you read it here.

But I do try to explain that I am an ambassador for world peace – that I talk with many heads of governments – that they all have greater problems to face than any man can solve – that, meanwhile I am trying to assist and HELP toward more peaceful relations between nations NOW, but that solutions are beyond human ability to handle and that the “unseen Strong Hand from someplace” (and they all know very well I mean GOD) will have to intervene to bring us REAL WORLD PEACE AND ETERNAL SALVATION AT LAST!

Just another word here about the Great Wall of China. It is longer than the distance from Los Angeles, Calif., to New York – longer than the distance across the entire United States. Although I had seen pictures of it, I had not realized that it continues up and down over mountain tops. It was built in its entirety by hand labor – probably countless thousands of men. And it was hundreds of years in building. Apparently it was built to keep out the nomads from the north.

Wednesday, Dec. 5, as already covered, was a busy day. At 9 a.m., we left for the national library. Then on to the Forbidden City, the walled city within the city, former capital, palaces and residences of the emperors. Then a luncheon, with about three large round tables filled.

But at 4 o’clock that afternoon came the most important meeting of the entire visit. We were again driven to the Great Hall of the People on People’s Square. We were driven around past three magnificent entrances on three sides, to a fourth entrance.

Meeting With Vice-Chairman Tan

On walking up the spacious entrance steps and entering the grand lobby, we were met by a delegation headed by Mr. Tan Zhen-lin, the vice-chairman of the National People’s Congress – one of the three top leaders of Communist China. Chairman Hua [Hua Guofeng] and Vice Chairman Deng [Deng Xiaoping] were at the airport, welcoming Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira of Japan, just arriving for a four-day visit of exceptionally important (to them) conferences over serious situations in Korea and Vietnam.

Actually, it was well that my personal meeting was with Vice-Chairman Tan. To explain this, let me tell you a little about him. He is age 77 and was a contemporary of the late Chairman Mao Tse-tung [Mao Zedong] and Premier Chou En-lai [Zhou Enlai]. He was very close to them throughout the war of the revolution that overthrew the government of Chiang Kai-shek. He is one of the original died-in-the-wool Chinese Communists.

Actually we have found that his relationship to Mao and Chou En-lai is most significant. It has great meaning for the People’s Republic of China, as well as the rest of the world as today constituted. Their association was close and lasted almost 50 years. Though other revolutionaries tried to break this long relationship, it remained steadfast through the years.

To better understand the importance of my meeting with Vice-Chairman Tan, let me here first give you a little background.

Chairman Mao was the policymaker and architect of the entire revolution. Also he was the “lawgiver” for the People’s Republic of China. He was the primary philosopher for China’s communism (as differentiated from Russian communism).

Chou En-lai actually joined the Chinese communist movement prior to Mao. But that was while he was a student in Europe. His education was more academic than Mao’s. He was educated in Japan and France as well as China, but Mao never left China proper. An interesting sidelight is that Chairman Mao had been once an assistant librarian at Peking [Beijing] University. It was actually while there that Mao came into contact with other early revolutionaries in communist efforts in the early 1920s. During all the years prior to the 1949 victory of communism, Mao was the leader of the communist movement. Chou En-lai also participated in the military effort. Both Mao and Chou were at the front lines all through the 1930s and 1940s. There they carried on political operations as well as military.

After the Communist victory in 1949, Chou En-lai became premier under Chairman Mao Tse-tung. Mao set all policies up until his death. Chou set up the administrative program to implement Mao’s policies. Mao also delegated administration of foreign affairs to Chou.

Chou En-lai traveled extensively during the 1950s and early 1960s, as China began emerging from a slumbering “dark-age” giant and began establishing itself as a major world power.

Their close relationship was above the norm and has filled the Chinese people with respect and admiration for them both. A large mausoleum was erected for Mao after his death. His body lies in state in the same preserved condition as that of Nikolai Lenin. But Chou En-lai had decreed that his body be cremated, and the ashes scattered over China. So there is no memorial mausoleum for Chou. However, the obelisk in the People’s Square does have Chou En-lai’s handwriting engraved on one side.

But now, as of today, neither Chairman Hua or Vice-Chairman Deng had the close long-lasting relationship to Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai, dating as far back, as has Vice-Chairman Tan Zhen-lin, who is of older age.

I have given you this pinpoint background so that you may better appreciate what I learned from Vice-Chairman Tan.

The Message I Speak

I did not go to Communist China to approve or disapprove their communism. I once wrote articles against communism. That was because of their atheism and rejection of God. But I think I realize now, more than I did then, that ALL NATIONS, except those springing from ancient Israel, have been cut off from God, by GOD’S OWN DECREE, since the time of Adam and Eve.

Jesus Christ emphasized this when He said, “No man can come to me, except the Father … draw him” (John 6:44). Other nations have never known much if anything about GOD. In ancient Egypt they worshiped their fictitious gods, Isis and Osiris, about the time the ancient Chinese were worshiping their ancestors – even before the appearance of Confucianism and Taoism. The ancient Greeks and Romans had their idol gods, such as Jupiter, Diana, Hermes and others.

They had no salvation – but neither were they “lost” – God Himself had cut off the descendants of Adam. They simply were not being JUDGED at all by God – nor are they even yet today. God is not judging them, so WHY SHOULD YOU OR I? I know that I myself am being judged NOW – and all whom God has predestinated to be called NOW! That is what the annual day of Firstfruits, called Pentecost, is intended to picture to us today. Some of us are called NOW. The world as a whole is NOT! Those now called to the Church of God are the “first-fruits” – merely the first small “harvest” of spiritual salvation. To all others, God said, in effect, “GO, since you (Adam) have rejected me, my government, my salvation, my revelation of knowledge, GO, form your own gods and your own religions – your own governments – your own fund of knowledge and education.”

And, for nearly 6,000 years, has the world so done! Therefore I do not go to the heads of the governments of this world to judge their governments, or their religions or their educational systems. I DO NOT GO TO “CONVERT” THEM – or to attempt to convince them to agree with me about the TRUTH OF GOD and the GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, which I tell them emphatically and IN POWER is very soon coming!

I merely tell them I am there to ANNOUNCE the coming world-ruling KINGDOM OF GOD, which shall bring THEM, and all others, PEACE AND JOY AND ETERNAL SALVATION!

That is the GREAT COMMISSION given by the Lord Jesus Christ to His apostles – that He has chosen to SEND FORTH with that GOOD NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT! That is why I even couched my message Jesus Christ was giving them through me in language UNOFFENSIVE TO THEM, yet which they well UNDERSTOOD!

And it is from that attitude and vantage-point that I talked with Vice-Chairman Tan.

It is important that you had this introductory information before I recount to you the conversation in our meeting.

Vice-Chairman Tan’s Message to the West

The vice-chairman had, of course, been thoroughly briefed about me, even the attitude I have outlined above, and what I had said on the previous two nights. Also he knew well all about The Plain Truth and its large circulation worldwide in five languages. What he told me, therefore, he evidently wanted our readers to know.

Chairman Tan Zhen-lin did not wait in a private office for us to be shown in by minor secretaries. He came to the front entrance of the Great Hall to meet me and those with me – Mr. Rader and Mr. Osamu Gotoh – in person. He is a very outgoing, enthusiastic, constantly smiling gentleman – in no sense a solemn, frowning, aloof, somber-looking, individual. He is brisk and enthusiastic and gave us a most warm greeting, shaking hands with me with both hands.

We followed him into an adjoining large room. He seated me near a table and the others in a line beside me. Then he took a chair beside the table, facing me next to him, and beyond me the others. Behind the table, between himself and me, was the interpreter who had met us at the airport and accompanied us everywhere since. She took notes – apparently in some sort of Chinese shorthand – of every word, as she interpreted.

Immediately the vice-chairman launched into a discussion, doing all the talking for at least a half hour. I made only an occasional interruption to ask the interpreter to repeat something I had not understood clearly.

Knowing that I am founder and president of a college, he first said (and not apologetically) that he is not an academic man by background, then he immediately launched into a full-scale discussion along geopolitical lines.

He launched immediately into the “domino theory” in regard to Vietnam. In the early stages of the U.S. war in Vietnam, this domino theory was prevalent in Washington – and I myself knew it was true. It was the theory that once the communists in North Vietnam knocked down South Vietnam, that would be only the first domino standing on end to fall. Next would come Cambodia [Kampuchea] and Laos, then Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

We thought it was Communist China backing North Vietnam, but Chairman Tan said it was the Soviet Union. I felt it particularly noteworthy that he was saying the Chinese view is that this theory of going on from there to conquer the whole world was a Soviet ambition, not Chinese. He was trying to show me why the United States should oppose the Kremlin and be friendly to China.

This “domino theory,” as a reason for United States military intervention in South Vietnam, actually was, as I said (having been an observer), true. But the theory was rejected by U.S. allies, and vigorously opposed by Russia, and through propaganda, by many in the United States in the later years of that war.

But I thought it interesting that by this assertion of the Chinese view, China gets herself off the hook in regard to the horrifying starvation now going on in Cambodia.

According to the vice-chairman, the People’s Republic of China is the strongest advocate of the validity of the domino theory. While we were fearful – during the 1960s and early 1970s – that Communist China, if successful in North Vietnam, would begin toppling the dominoes to the west and south, it is China that now is saying that North Vietnam is a big threat, and if the United States and China do not now stop North Vietnam, Cambodia will fall to the North Vietnamese, followed by Thailand, Malaysia and very important sea passages now controlled by Singapore.

The vice-chairman pointed out that Russia is not any longer a true communist society, but an imperialist country not really different from that of the czars – that Russia has been waging war against the rest of the world through proxies for more than 30 years. He claimed that North Vietnam was but a proxy of imperialistic Russia.

I was reminded by this part of the conversation of what President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam said to me, shortly before he fled and his country fell to the Communists.

If I have misunderstood the vice-chairman in any part in the above, I am sorry, but this is what both Mr. Rader and I understood him to say. I asked him if I could have a typed transcript from the translator’s notes. He smiled and shook his head. So I told him I would write as I retained it in my head.

The vice-chairman at this juncture swung all the way to Western Europe in his geopolitical discussion, with brief mentions of the Iranian crisis and the Middle East. He was urging a strong Europe to oppose a strong and imperialistic Russia.

I did not want to interrupt him, but I had something I wanted to say to him on that point. However, I held it until he finished.

I Explain Future Course of World Events

In another minute or so, he apologized for taking up all the time himself, and then I said,

“Mr. Vice-Chairman, there is something I want to say to you about Western European defense against the Soviet Union. I do not expect you to believe what I’m going to say, but I’ll tell you, and you can believe it after it happens. There will be, within the next few years, a union of 10 nations or groups of nations, in Western Europe – and it might include two or three Russian satellite countries – in a union of church and state – brought about largely by the Roman Catholic Church. Now I’m not in any way in favor of it, but it will form a short-lived giant world power with military strength equal or superior to either the United States or Russia. They will have a common currency, a common government and a common military power. It will emerge out of the present Common Market. It is going to shock the whole world.”

He grinned, shaking his head in unbelief.

I continued, “But what will happen finally, after that, will be what many world-famous scientists have said is the world’s only hope – though they also say it is impossible. There will finally come, in our time, a tremendous single world power, with political and military rule over ALL nations – no military power to challenge it.”

I speak with heads of governments all over the world. All are faced with problems, troubles and evils greater than any man or group of men can handle – although many or most heads of state are unusually competent men. They are doing the best they can, and I’m trying to assist any way I can as an ambassador for world peace. But it will finally require what an American editor called the intervention of an unseen “STRONG HAND FROM SOMEPLACE” to bring about this world-ruling Kingdom.

He knew well what I meant. With this intensive smile still on his face, he shook his head.

“I don’t expect you to believe it until it happens,” I concluded. “Meanwhile we will continue to help toward world peace, working WITH you, in any way we can.”

We had been with the vice-chairman for one hour, and we rose to leave. He walked with us, with much handshaking all the way to the outer front door, his hospitable, exceedingly warm smile never leaving his face. He hoped I would come again.

Mr. Rader wrote to me a note, after we had returned to Tokyo, saying: “Since the vice-chairman undoubtedly had been advised of your strong comments Monday night, and again Tuesday night, I believe that he knew full well that the united Europe and the cataclysm that would follow were directly connected with your comments about the strong hand intervening from someplace that would finally save mankind from complete destruction.”

The fact that Vice-Chairman Tan was in such close relationship for so many years with Chairman Mao and Premier Chou, as well as being still one of the three top men in the Chinese government, made this meeting one of extraordinary importance – for these three men RULE A QUARTER OF ALL THE PEOPLE ON EARTH!

Following this meeting there was time to return to the State House for a bite to eat and go to the theater for a semi-ballet show sponsored by our Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. There was loud, standing applause when we walked into the theater, and after the show’s conclusion we were led up on the stage, to shake hands with the whole cast and take bows to the standing applause of the audience.

Thursday noon we left the State House for the airport. There again were several top officials at the plane to see us off.

Saturday night, January 8, there was a banquet in my honor in Tokyo. Several members of the Chinese Embassy were there, and three or four ambassadors from other countries, beside Mr. Yamashita and other Japanese officials. Sunday was the long flight all the way to Tucson, Ariz., with only one refueling stop at Cold Bay, Alaska.