Recently China has had its share of headlines in the financial news. Ample articles reveal labor abuses and people jumping out of windows after being overworked at technology companies like Foxconn. We read about the financial fraud of corporations like the Chinese chain Luckin Coffee that inflated the company’s end-of-year sales by about 2.2 billion yuan ($310 million) and state-controlled corporations like Huawei and dozens of others caught spying on other nations. Fake balance sheets are discovered in huge corporations; fraud, corruption and deceit fill the headlines, all illuminated for investors and the general public alike. Though nothing new, it seems like the corporate sins of China are being highlighted for the first time for many.
Maybe it’s because China has become a financial powerhouse, and now so many have money at risk. It reminds me of the scene in “The Wizard of Oz” where Toto keeps pulling back the curtain on the real Wizard. In doing so, he reveals a man controlling the machine he designed to present a fake mighty wizard to Dorothy and her friends. By using this facade, he maintains power and influence in the land of Oz. Has China been doing something similar to hide the truth of its economy, stock market and even how it treats its citizens? And in doing so, have they been gaining power and influence throughout the world?
Surprisingly, over 25 years ago, a group of financial professionals tried to warn investors of precisely this same situation. They had started an organization to help train financial advisors in the ways of investing with Biblical integrity. Their goal was to help individuals invest only in companies that profited from and promoted ideas that were in alignment with God’s tenants of love as revealed in His Word, the Bible. They did this by monitoring corporate actions, how companies made their profits and what they supported with their charitable giving. They developed a system to screen out companies that used and abused people and those that profited from addictive or harmful products and practices. This screening system also identified companies that used their profits and affluence to encourage behaviors that could cause people to stumble in their walk with God.
Back then, the Communist Party of China (CPC) was known for its forced labor, child labor abuses and forced abortions. It also forced businesses to make the government an owner and controlling factor in their company. The CPC also used incompatible accounting practices and lacked financial transparency with the rest of the world. Because of these abuses and many more, companies in China were removed from the investable list across the board. Any company incorporated in China was considered a participant in these abuses and was to be avoided. If someone wanted to invest in a way that honored God by reflecting his love, that person would have to look elsewhere.
Today it seems that China has grown. Some areas have begun reforms such as improvement in accounting practices, which helps reveal the reported fraud. We also see an acceptance of international child labor laws, which seems to be reducing such abuses.
But other areas remain troublesome or have become even worse. We see this in the reported forced labor abuses of Uighurs and Kazakhs in the Xinjiang Province who are being forced to work in factories that make medical equipment for China. Another example is the worker abuses being reported in factories making products for international distribution, including for U.S. toy companies. And sadly, we still see the atrocities of forced sterilizations on ethnic minority populations like the Uighurs.
This is why I pray for China and ask you to do the same. China is a country of people that were created by God and need His love, just like you and me. They are people who do not always have the freedom or opportunity to choose to do right, even if they want to. So, I lift up a prayer for China.
First and foremost, I pray that people come to know our loving God all across China, from the highest levels of government to the neediest in their society. I pray also that His selfless love, as demonstrated in the sacrifice of His Son, would lead to personal and national change, a change that replaces China’s using and abusing of its people in its lust for power and dominance with compassion and concern for its countrymen. I pray that God would open the eyes of Chinese officials to the suffering of their workers. I pray that the abuses would end and the poor and neglected workers would be raised up economically, emotionally and spiritually.
Will you join me and lift up a prayer for China and the rest of the world as well?
(Mark Minnella is president and co-founder of the National Association of Christian Financial Consultants. He designed the first faith-based professional designation program, Christian Financial Consultant and Advisor, in the industry. He has extensive background as a leader in the faith-based investment movement, is the founder of Integrity Investors, LLC, and the author of “The Wall Street Awakening.”)