"American Orthodox Messenger" August 15-27, 1898. Vol. II. № 16. pg. 488-489.
page image 488, 489 from the archives of All Saints of North America Orthodox Church
Internet edition uses pinyin for transliteration
Orthodoxy in China.

The present year brings the two hundredth anniversary of the consecration of the first Orthodox church in China. As early as the XV century the "Moscow Gazette" tells us, Russian merchants and traders began to visit, for commercial and industrial purposes, the northern provinces of the empire and to form business connections with the Chinese; and after the conquest of Siberia, Russian colonization began in earnest in the Chinese provinces contiguous to the Russian domains, more especially along the Amoor. Russian settlements sprang up, and even a few towns (Albazin, Nertchinsk). The Chinese Government could not fail to feel uneasy at this, as it were, legal appropriation of its territory, and Emperor Kangxi determined at last to get the Russians away from the Amoor. In 1684 the Chinese overpowered the city of Albazin, then gave the Russian inhabitants the option of removing into the interior of China, to Beijing, and enter the Emperor's service. A portion of them refused and returned to Russia. The other accepted the Chinese Government's invitation and went to live in Beijing, taking along their priest, Father Maxim Leontief. This event opened the way for Orthodoxy in China. Its pioneers, the Russians from Albazin, met with a cordial reception at Beijing. They were registered as having entered the imperial service, and the Emperor Kangxi order a Buddhist temple to be cleared for them, so they might satisfy their religious needs: this heathen temple was transformed into an Orthodox chapel.

Ignatius, Archbishop of Tobolsk, having heard of the Russian exodus to Beijing and of the opening there of an Orthodox chapel, sent to Father Maxim an Antimins, some holy oil (myrrh) and the necessary church books. Overjoyed and encouraged by this voice from home, the Russians from Albazin transformed their chapel into a church, and in the year 1698 there was in Beijing a festivity never before seen in that country: the consecration of the first Orthodox church, in the name of Sophia, or Divine Wisdom. On this auspicious occasion many Chinese received holy baptism, and thus the consecration of the first Orthodox Church coincided with the introduction of Orthodoxy among the Chinese heathens. "This is an excellent thing," remarked Peter the Great, when the important event was reported to him. From that time true Christianity began to be preached in China, and in 1715 the first Orthodox Mission from Russia. Unfortunately our relations with China, all through the following period, were most unreliable - some times very strained indeed, and that, of course, did not favor the missionary work, against which, moreover- the Chinese priesthood arose in hostile array, fanaticizing against Christianity, not only the people, but the majority of the better classes. In spite of all this, the cause of Orthodoxy in China progressed.

At the present time our Church already numbers one thousand members in the Celestial Empire. There are Orthodox churches - two in Beijing and one respectively in Hankou, in Urga (present-day Ulan Bator, Mongolia), and in the village Dongding’an. This, of course, is a small number, it compared with the entire population of China, (over 400 millions). But we should keep in view the unfavorable conditions with which Orthodoxy and Christianity generally have to contend in that country, as well as the limited means, both moral and material, of which the Russian Orthodox Mission disposes. Still, of late years, the relations between Russia and China having greatly improved, the cause of Orthodoxy in the latter country has revived considerably, and a wide and favorable field is undoubtedly opening out there to Orthodox missionary enterprise. (From "Faith and Reason" a paper published in the Diocese of Kharkof).