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Inside NCR

NCR’s rare glimpse of paradox that is China

It was not the normal way NCR gathers news, but then gathering news in China is no ordinary task. For 17 days last November, Publisher Tom Fox and his wife, Hoa, traveled about mainland China by plane, train and bus, visiting six cities. They were part of a group of 16 Catholics (15 from the U.S.; one from Hong Kong) who visited China under the auspices of the U.S. Catholic China Bureau, a Seton Hall University-based organization. The group’s purpose was like that of the bureau: to learn more about the church in China and to share the information back home.

The itinerary combined meetings with church officials and visits to points of interest including China’s Great Wall. With the Great Wall photo op in mind, Fox had asked Denise Laughlin, senior marketing designer for the NCR Publishing Company, to create a banner to take along. One blustery morning on top of a mountain north of Beijing, the group gathered behind the banner and handed a camera to a surprised Chinese tourist. With a snap of the shutter, the Great Wall became part of NCR’s history.

Finally, Fox, an Asia specialist by virtue of his study of Asia at Yale and his years in Vietnam, recommends three books, which he said were particularly helpful to him in preparing for the trip and understanding what he saw: China’s Catholics, by Richard Madsen (University of California Press); Catholic Church in Modern China, Tang/Wiest, Orbis; and The Catholic Church in Present-Day China, by Anthony S.K. Lam (Ferdinand Verbiest Foundation, Leuven, Belgium).

Fox’s Special Report: China and an editorial raise some questions for American Catholics as they look toward their sisters and brothers in faith in China.

-- Michael Farrell

National Catholic Reporter, January 29, 1999