President Spencer W. Kimball said the following about China in an article entitled "The Uttermost Parts of the Earth" in 1979:
And what of China, the third largest country in the world? Nearly one billion of
our Father’s children live in China, one-fourth of the entire world’s
population. Six hundred and sixty million of them speak Mandarin Chinese.
How many of us speak Mandarin Chinese? We must prepare while there is time
to prepare to teach these people. Of course, we face great barriers,
including political barriers, in many of these parts of the world.
Major changes are emerging within China today. The single most
important drive in contemporary China is to become strong, independent, and
modern. Of course, the Peoples Republic of China has no
outward sign of religious belief. The consensus of most Chinese people is
that “religion is not forbidden but it is not encouraged.” One of my
relatives went on a recent trip to China and reported that “the people are intelligent,
hopeful, and courteous. They love children, are courteous to parents and women,
and honor their ancestors. Very like our gospel faithful,
they are family-oriented and even in their communities live in individual
family units although they are humble ones.” One of our brethren recently
spent some time in China and brought back a detailed
report. He noted that the people were friendly and open. There seemed to be
no animosity or tension at any time from the people, and very little of
restriction or suspicion from government officials. By comparison with the widespread
breakdown of morality and discipline in the western world, the Chinese are a
disciplined, industrious, frugal, closely knit people. Their moral standards are
very high by modern western standards. Honesty is assumed in China as a matter
of course. Crime is rare. Drug abuse and prostitution have been virtually
eliminated. Premarital sex is heavily censured and is rare. Homosexuality and
lesbianism are virtually unknown. Family life is strong, with old family members
still given great respect and care. In contrast with many other emerging
nations, neatness and order characterize the Chinese cities and
countryside. One sees no trash or garbage, no wretched hovels, no beggars.
People seem to take pride in their personal appearance and the appearance of
their homes and surroundings. Flies have been virtually eliminated. Disease is
controlled by a nationwide system of preventive medicine.
Unfortunately, there is in China little of the freedom that is
so essential to the growth of the gospel. But things are
changing. China is planning to send more than ten thousand college-age
students overseas during the next two years. The doors are opening
gradually. The Spirit of the Lord is brooding over these nations under a new
regime that is certainly more open and more receptive to western ideas than
ever before. Such cultural and educational interchanges will offer
opportunities for exposure to the gospel. We must be prepared. The Lord is
doing his part and is waiting for us to open the doors.
Interestingly, there is a temple now in China. The Hong Kong China Temple was dedicated in the mid-90s and serves Hong Kong, China, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. This will be an important temple once missionaries begin to teach the Chinese people in China. There are very few, if any, examples in the history of the Church of a temple being so close to a population in which there are virtually no Church members.
Many skeptics argue that when missionaries start to proselyte in China, we will see the same result as we saw in Russia (initial rapid growth which slows dramatically after 10 years and results in high inactivity). There are many differences between China and Russia with the Church. First, the Chuch has several thousands of members already in the country. Second, branches have been established for foreigners. Lastly, the scriptures as well as a large amount of other Church materials have already been translated into Mandarin Chinese. It will be very exciting once missionaries enter China to see what happens. One of the areas we need to work on as a Church before we enter China is to have more missionaries and to have that number steadily increase. If we were to place the entire missionary force of 53,000 of the Church into China, most Chinese would not even know they were there!