way (the CIM was already the largest single Protestant mission in China by 1890), most missions steadily expanded inland as well. Catholic missionaries on the other hand, who were distributed around the country through vicariates apostolic assigned to different orders, tended to organise rural communities of converts as cohesive components of local society. In so doing they normally constituted a simple addition to the complex mix of local social organisations that interacted in a usually peaceful competition for resources and influence in local society. But this process of change in the local balance of social or economic power also constituted a threat to the existing social order, especially to the prerogatives of the educated local elite or gentry class, already suspicious of Christianity because of its association with the despised Taiping rebels. By using their outside resources to build schools and clinics (and for Catholics, orphanages) and by using their special treaty rights to interfere in lawsuits onbehalf of converts, both Catholic and Protestant missionaries could spark gentry-inspired jiaoan ('missionary cases') involving attacks on church property, or even riots injuring or killing Chinese Christians or foreign missionaries. Sometimes local tensions aroused by resentment of Christians' alleged privileges or special treatment contributed to cases of popular grass-roots violence not engineered by the elite. For example, anger at perceived advantage in a lawsuit, or at Christians' exemption from paying the subscription fee for 'idolatrous' temple festivals or fairs, could stimulate acts of retaliation against Christians or missionaries. When such acts occurred, the treaty rights of the foreigners (often in their practical effect extended to the Chinese Christians) could bring the case to the attention of officials and diplomats in Peking, with resulting headaches for all and possible official recriminations, reprimands and indemnities.
The decades between 1860 and 1900 saw an explosive burst of institutionbuilding in the Christian project in China, especially among Protestants. The missionary community in China was commissioned and sent there by denominational mission boards, which were becoming more bureaucratised and professionalised by the end of the century. Even the CIM, the antithesis of a complex organisation in its early years, was forced by its very size to adopt a more bureaucratically driven style. Most Protestant missionaries remained in large or medium-sized cities, where increasing numbers of them spent most of their time not in churches or street chapels (more preaching was devolving to Chinese colleagues), but in schools, hospitals and clinics, in publishing
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