THE CHINESE AUTHORITIES have just closed down 392 Buddhist temples and ten churches near Shanghai. This makes me question the subtitle of Jesus in Beijing: if Christianity is transforming China and therefore makes the Communists nervous, why are they closing up forty times as many Buddhist temples as Christian churches? But the whole matter of Christianity in China is a muddle. All those millions of souls ready for salvation have been attracting missionaries since at least the seventh century.
This muddle infects otherwise rational observers. David Aikman (once the respected Time bureau chief in Beijing, now a freelance investigator of Christianity in China - and, to judge from the way he writes, a pretty enthusiastic Christian) states, as if he believes it, that last year, then-president Jiang Zemin told