There are various masonic lodges in Chine including in Beijing the capital. The Freemasons, a fraternal organisation with roots dating back centuries, have left an indelible mark on many countries around the world. However, one of the lesser-known aspects of Freemasonry is its presence in China. In this blog, we will delve into the history and existence of Freemason lodges in China, shedding light on this secretive and intriguing part of Chinese history.
The Arrival of Freemasonry in China
Freemasonry first made its way to China during the late 18th century, primarily through foreign traders and missionaries. The lodges were established in major cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong, drawing members from a diverse range of backgrounds, including European expatriates and Chinese elites who had been exposed to Western ideas and influences.
The Early Years
During its early years in China, Freemasonry served as a meeting point for individuals interested in intellectual discussions, science, and philanthropy. These lodges provided a unique space where members from different cultural backgrounds could come together and exchange ideas, fostering a spirit of unity and cooperation.
One of the most notable early Masonic lodges in China was the “Shanghai International Settlement Lodge No. 3466,” founded in 1863. This lodge attracted members from various nationalities and played a significant role in the cultural and social life of the Shanghai expatriate community.
Impact on Chinese Society
Freemasonry had a profound impact on Chinese society during its early years. It introduced Western ideals of individual liberty, democracy, and enlightenment thinking to a select group of Chinese elites. Many of these individuals went on to become key figures in the reform movements of the late Qing dynasty and early 20th century, advocating for modernisation and political change in China.
Influence on Chinese Art and Culture
The Masonic influence extended to Chinese art and culture as well. Freemasonry’s symbolism and rituals inspired some Chinese artists, and Masonic motifs can be found in Chinese art and architecture of the time. For instance, Masonic symbols like the square and compass can be seen in the design of certain historic buildings in China.
The Decline and Resurgence
The early 20th century brought significant political upheaval to China, and Freemasonry fell out of favour during this period. The lodges were forced to go underground or disbanded altogether due to political pressures and the changing social landscape.
It was only in the latter part of the 20th century and the early 21st century that Freemasonry began to resurface in China. With the country’s opening up to the world and a growing interest in international fraternal organisations, some lodges were reestablished. These new lodges attract both Chinese and expatriate members and continue to promote the principles of brotherhood, self-improvement, and community service.
Freemason Lodges in China
The Grand Lodge of China is the main governing body for Freemasonry in the People’s Republic of China. It oversees and regulates Masonic lodges operating within its jurisdiction. Please note that the availability of information on the Grand Lodge of China and its lodges may vary, as Freemasonry is known for its privacy and discretion. If you are interested in learning more about the Grand Lodge of China or specific lodges within China, you would need to contact them directly or visit their official website if available. Keep in mind that their contact information and online presence may be limited due to the secretive nature of the organisation.