China’s Religious Policy

Our theme today is the Catholic Church in China. But it is important to see also the broader context of religious plurality and religious politics in the PR China. I am happy to have the opportunity to speak about these issues. I can only touch on a few points, and I will speak about the situation inside China, not about religions in China’s foreign policy (which would be another interesting topic).

Before I turn to China’s religious policy today, allow me first a few preliminary remarks.

  1. Religious Diversity

In Communist China today there is a diverse and vibrant religious landscape – thanks to the political opening-up and the revival of religions in the 1980s after the end of the devastating Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). Traditionally, there is religious pluralism in the country. Today five religions officially enjoy religion status: Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. Buddhism and Daoism historically have had the greatest influence on Chinese culture and, according to surveys, are still the most widely practiced religions today, although it is not possible to say exactly how many followers there are. Ten ethnic groups with a total population of 23 million are officially considered Muslim. According to the latest government figures, there are 38 million Protestant Christians in the country; unofficial estimates are much higher. The Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong estimates that there are about 10 million Catholic Christians, the official number is 6 million. The Catholic Church is by far the smallest of the five religions, its share in the total population is less than 1%.

In addition to these five “major” religions, traditional popular beliefs play an important role. For a long time they were ostracized as “feudal superstition,” but now they are increasingly allowed or sometimes even promoted by local authorities. In addition, there are religions that are not or are only locally recognized by the state, such as Yiguandao, Bahaʼi and Mormons or Orthodox Christians, as well as groups that are forbidden and persecuted as “heretical cults.” Despite the plurality of religious life, in a survey published in 2015 by the international market research network WIN/Gallup, 61% of the population of the People’s Republic of China described themselves as convinced atheists – the highest percentage worldwide.

  1. “There are not two suns in the sky”[1]

In the long history of China, none of these religions has ever been on an equal footing with the emperor or the state – this is a big difference to European history. The emperor decided which religions and cults were useful for the state and society, for the morale of the people and so on. These religions were allowed or even supported; cults considered harmful were banned as heterodox. One could say that the tradition of imperial patronage over the religions is continued to some extent by the Communist Party. This patronage may have been the reason why there were hardly any religious wars in ancient China[2] – as today’s leadership repeatedly emphasizes. The emperor himself did not represent any particular religion, but as the “Son of Heaven” he also had sacral functions, such as the annual sacrifice in the Temple of Heaven to preserve the cosmic order. Of course, the Communist Party of China cannot claim this sacral function for itself. However, Xi Jinping increasingly draws on elements of Chinese tradition, especially Confucianism, to support the party’s rule.

  1. One Management System for All Religions

Since 1982 (Document No. 19) the Chinese Communist Party has accepted that, contrary to the classical Marxist view, religions will continue to exist even under socialism. On the one hand, the party expects from the religions positive contributions for society. On the other hand it seeks to control their life and particularly their leadership structures and wants to contain their influence.

The Constitution of 1982 guarantees the “freedom of religious belief” and protects “normal religious activities.” It also stipulates that “religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.” It further says that “no one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state.”

  1. Organizational Structure

The state supervises the five religions with the help of the official umbrella organizations of these religions, which were founded in the late 1950s on the Soviet model. All clerics and religious personnel, all sites for religious activities (temples, mosques, churches) and all institutes for religious education (e.g. theological seminaries) must be registered with the state through the official religious associations.

These umbrella organizations are uniformly responsible for one religion. For instance, in the Chinese Buddhist Association such different Buddhist schools as Zen Buddhists and Tibetan Buddhists are gathered together. The Chinese Islamic Association represents Uighur as well as Chinese speaking Hui-Muslims. Since the 1950s, there are no longer denominations or different churches in official Protestantism.

The umbrella organizations of the five religions have very similar statutes and bodies. The National Assemblies of the Representatives of each of the five religions meet every five years. They are the highest body of each religion. The National Assemblies adopt the statutes of the national umbrella organizations and elect their chairpersons.

The Catholic Church has two national bodies – the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which has a more political role, and the Bishops’ Conference. The two are closely linked through their statutes, and most decisions and documents at the official Catholic level are adopted jointly by the Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference.[3] In the official context, therefore, the two bodies are usually treated as a single body, the so-called “One Association One Conference” (“Yi hui yi tuan” 一会一团).

The national umbrella organizations of the five religions are tightly supervised by the National Administration for Religious Affairs (NRAA, also translated “National Religious Affairs Bureau”). The Religious Affairs Bureau used to be a kind of ministry of the Central government. In March 2018 however, there was a huge constitutional change, and the Bureau was integrated into the Communist Party’s United Front Department. That means, religious affairs and organizations, including the Bishops’ Conference, are now directly under party control. This constitutional change took place half a year before the Sino-Vatican Agreement was signed.

For the Catholic Church: This structure does not conform to Canon Law, but on the other hand it is not likely that China will change it, because it is valid for all five religions.

Door in old Chinese stile leading to Church area    (foto Maria Lozano 2014)

  1. Legal Norms

China pursues the rule by law, also in the religious field. In February 2018, the revised Regulations on Religious Affairs came into force. They are much longer and stricter than the previous regulations and give the official religious umbrella organizations even more weight and competences. For instance, the revised regulations assign them the task of formulating a system of religious rules, explaining religious doctrines and “constructing religious thinking”, in a way that is binding for the clergy.[4]

Recently, in February 2020, a new set of “Measures for the Administration of Religious Organizations” issued by the National Religious Affairs Administration came into force, regulating the role of the religious organizations in more detail. [5] There is one point in this document that has a direct bearing on the Catholic question: It says that [all] religious organization must “adhere to the principles of independence, autonomy and self-governance” (article 5). Independence here means independence from “any foreign domination,” that is, in the Catholic case, independence from the Pope. Because they could not accept this principle, many Catholics have for decades been choosing to practice their belief in the underground, or, if in the official Church, have tried to find ways to circumvent this principle and show their loyalty to the Pope. So far, the principle of independence has only been included in the statutes of the umbrella organizations of Catholics, Protestants and Muslims, that is, of those religions that are perceived as being of foreign origin. Now, with the new legal norm, this principle will be further generalized (and thereby given more weight). I also think that it will not be limited to independence in political matters. Here I would like to mention that both the Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference say in their statutes that they adhere to the principle of independence “in political, economical and Church affairs.

Another interesting detail: The new “Measures for the Administration of Religious Organizations” say that religious organizations are “voluntarily formed by religious citizens” (article 2). Given the fact that the authorities often exercise pressure to convince religious clergy to join these organizations, this definition of the voluntary nature of these organizations is interesting and might open new paths of argumentation – though the phrase “voluntarily formed” probably has been inserted in order to make the new “Measures” conform to the “Regulations on the Registration and Administration of Social Organizations,” which have this phrase, too.

The national organizations of the five religions have always had the duty to support the policy of the Communist Party and to transmit it to the members of the respective religion. In recent years, however, this has been intensified (the same is true for other sectors of society). Last year, I saw an online job advertisement for two vacancies in the office of the Patriotic Association, responsible for drafting all kinds of documents and speeches of the “leaders” of the Association (the majority of them, in fact, being bishops). The job offer was for university graduates with a “strong political stance and support for the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system,” with “respect for religious figures, rituals and taboos” and a “basic professional knowledge.” No Church membership or theological knowledge was required for the jobs.[6] No wonder that statements of the official religious organizations partly resemble party documents. As Ian Johnson, journalist and expert on Chinese religions, put it: “Today’s China seeks not to marginalize competing groups and belief systems, the way Beijing did during the Mao era, but to co-opt them.”[7] Or, as Zhuo Xinping, a leading scholar of religious studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Peking, once said: “The religious structure is subordinate to the state structure. In reality there are not two structures but one.”[8]

   Mass at Cathedral Taiyuan     (Foto Maria Lozano)

While recently the focus of religious policy quite often is on negative aspects like extremism or infiltration,[9] party and state also expect positive contributions on part of the religious communities to the common good of Chinese society. These days I saw reports from the United Front Department about how the five religions support the government’s fight against the corona virus, by suspending all religious assemblies, collecting donations for relief work, encouraging believers to find calm in their hearts, to pray quietly at home and – this was said especially for the Protestants –not to listen to doomsday prophecies and the like.[10] In fact, from our contacts with Catholic partners in China (Jinde Charities) we know how desperately they try to help with providing surgical masks and other medical supplies.

I have described how party and state try to co-opt religions and what kind of structures they use for that purpose. However, I want to stress that there is true religious life within this official religious sector which is registered with the authorities and therefore legal. For instance, most Catholic parishes and dioceses, though they cannot completely avoid politics, put all their efforts into pastoral work, quite often are very active and pious evangelizers and have many creative ideas of how to reach out to society.

Members of a Mother Teresa Association as pilgrims on Sheshan May 2012       

  1. The Grey Area

It is important to see that a big part of religious life in China takes place in a legally “grey area.” It is not registered with the government or plays only partly by the government rules, but to some degree has been tolerated by local officials. The officials “open one eye and close one eye,” as the saying goes.

Many adherents of religions practice their beliefs in places that are not registered as religious sites, and with unregistered clergy. This is illegal by Chinese law. Probably the majority of Protestants practice in house churches, maybe as many as half of the Catholics are underground, there are unregistered mosques and many unregistered small temples and shrines of local cults in the countryside. As I said, in the past much of this has been tolerated by the authorities. The revised “Regulations on Religious Affairs,” valid since February 2018, contain much stricter provision against the “grey area.” There has been a more systematic crackdown on unregistered religious life since then, obviously in an effort to eliminate “grey areas” and “blind spots.” Several big Protestant house churches have been closed (e.g. the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu in December 2018, whose outspoken pastor Wang Yi was sentenced to nine years in prison in December 2019; and the Rongguili Church in Guangzhou in December 2018).[11] In some places the government has set up hotlines for the reporting of illegal religious activities and offers rewards to citizens who report such activities.[12] Even church buildings that had been built by the official Church with the approval of the local government but without all formal building permits were demolished by the authorities, as happened in Wugaozhuang in the diocese of Handan.[13] After the Sino-Vatican Agreement was signed in September 2018, local authorities exerted enormous pressure on Catholic underground clergy to sign documents supporting the principle of independence and to join the official Church – unfortunately claiming that “the Pope has already consented to everything.” This greatly confused underground priests and Catholics who felt left without orientation, and even not so very few people in the official Church. In an effort to clarify the situation, in June 2019 the Holy See issued “Pastoral Guidelines Concerning the Civil Registration of Clergy in China.”[14] – The harsher political climate is also felt by other religions. Since 2016, reportedly thousands of Buddhist monks and nuns were expelled from Larung Gar and Yachen Gar, two huge academies for Tibetan Buddhism in Sichuan.[15] We have a special situation in Xinjiang where probably one million Uighurs, mostly Muslims, are being reeducated in so-called vocational training centers.

Another “grey area” is the Internet. In China, as a rule, Bibles are classified as “internal materials” and cannot be sold at normal bookshops. For some time, however, Bibles could be bought from online retailers. The Chinese authorities stopped this in April 2018.[16] Chinese believers use social media also for interactive online prayer, reciting of Buddhist sutras, preaching and so on; there are even Shamans who practice online.[17] The Chinese authorities have noted that the Internet provides religions with the means to overcome the narrow limitation to registered places of worship and to reach a wider public. In September 2018, the National Religious Affairs Administration published a draft version of “Measures on the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services” with very strict rules for religious contents on the Internet. One provision forbids the transmission of religious activities such as Buddhist prayer, burning incense, mass, or baptisms, in any manner live or recorded (article 18).

During the last few years, many sectors of society have been subject to stricter party and government control, not only religious activities. It is also important to bear in mind that the situation of religions and churches varies greatly from place to place.

Religious sister with old woman in the Catholic retirement home 2014 

  1. “Avoid Lumping Them All Together” – Differences in the Treatment of Religions by the State

In the first part I have tried to describe the uniform management system used by the authorities for all religions. But this does not mean that all religions are treated the same. One year ago, Wang Zuo’an, head of the National Religious Affairs Administration and one of the vice directors of the United Front Department, postulated: “Persist in differentiating between the various categories [of religions] when guiding [them] and avoid lumping them all together.” In the same text he gives a list of problems connected with each religion. He sees the danger of interference and infiltration by foreign forces as a problem with Catholicism and Protestantism, infiltration of extremist thought as a problem for Islam.[18] This shows that China’s leaders continue to view the foreign ties of these three monotheistic religions as a risk.

 Beijing 2014 Longquan Buddhist Temple  

  1. “Religious Ecology” and Sinicization

The rapid increase of Protestant Christians in China – from 1 Million in 1949 to an officially acknowledged number of 38 Million in 2019 – has been a special concern of religious policy for many years. In 2012, Mou Zhongjian, professor for religious studies at Minzu University of China, published his influential essay “On Religious Ecology.” In this essay he argues that the ecological balance of religions in China has been disturbed by the rapid expansion of Protestantism. According to Mou, this expansion was possible because the many forms of traditional popular beliefs in China had been repeatedly attacked and wiped out by the authorities. This, Mou says, left a huge vacuum that enabled Christianity to grow and fill the gap. As a remedy, he advocates, firstly, for more acceptance and support for traditional folk beliefs and, secondly, for the Sinicization of Catholic and Protestant theology. Mou argues that, while Chinas’ traditional religious model is pluralistic and harmonious, Christianity as a monotheistic religion holds the fundamentalistic belief that “Outside of Jesus there is no salvation.” This belief is very exclusive and not suitable for constructing a harmonious society in China, Mou says. Christianity should be combined with Confucianism and Daoism, should constantly be Sinicized and its exclusivity should be reduced. “Western hostile forces seek to Christianize China, our countermeasure is the Sinicization of Christianity,” this is Mou’s advise.[19]

This argument of Mou and other Chinese scholars was obviously taken up by Chinese policy makers. President Xi Jinping, in two important meetings in 2015 and 2016, declared that “religious work” must “adhere to the direction towards Sinicization.”[20] Since then, Sinicization has become a keyword in religious policy. One after another, the national umbrella organizations of the five religions had to publish “five-year plans” for the Sinicization of their religion – first the Protestants (March 2018), then the Catholics (May 2018, published October 2018) and the Muslims (January 2019).[21] Later, also the Buddhists (October 2019) and the Daoists (November 2019) published five-year Sinicization plans of their own.[22] According to Xi Jinping’s speech at the National Conference on Religious Work, there are two aspects to the process of Sinicization: “To interpret the rules and teachings of the religions in line with the requirements of [1] the development and progress of contemporary China and [2] the excellent traditional culture of China.”[23] Point one is equivalent to another key concept of religious policy, that is, “adaption to Socialist society.” In this regard, even Daoism has to be Sinicized.

In the name of Sinicization, Arab-style architectural elements like minarets ad domes had to be removed from many mosques in Ningxia; a conference in 2017 called for mosques to be built in a Chinese style (as was the use in traditional China).[24] In May 2018, the “Four Enter” mosque campaign was launched. “Four Enter” means that the following four elements should enter every mosque in China: 1) The national flag; 2) China’s constitution, laws and legal norms; 3) the core socialist values, and 4) the outstanding traditional culture of China. At the opening of the campaign, NRAA-Director Wang Zuo’an said that the “Four-Enter” mosques are a concrete contribution to the Sinicization of Islam.[25] The Four Enter campaign was soon extended to all religions. As a result, now most religious sites have raised the national flag in front of the building and put the list of the 12 core socialist values on display. These are just two examples for “applied” Sinicization. – By the way, a fifth item that has entered more and more sites for religious activities, are surveillance cameras, at least part of them equipped with face recognition technology. We have heard that from many parishes and dioceses in China. One priest from Eastern China told us that in his area, there are three cameras at each church: one filming the entrance, one inside the church at the back and another one directed at the pulpit.

On the whole, Sinicization is a flexible concept and can be used to transport a range of ideas. However, it is clear that while in the last few decades the focus of religious policy was more on organizational aspects (like registering religious sites and clergy), it now also targets contents of religious teachings. On November 26, 2019, there was a high-ranking conference of the Commission for Nationalities and Religions of the Political Consultative Conference in Beijing on the interpretation of religious teachings. During the meeting it was said that “the existing translations of the canonical books of all religions must be comprehensively evaluated and content that does not correspond to the progress of the times must be commented, corrected or re-translated as necessary.”[26] Chinese theologians will have to find their own ways to cope with this big challenge. 

  1. Restrictions on the Participation of Minors in Religious Life

From 2013 to 2015, the “China Religion Survey,” a project under the School of Philosophy and the National Survey Research Center of Renmin University in Peking, carried out a survey on official, state registered sites for religious activities. In 2016, results were published.

One question asked by the researchers was: Which events beyond regular religious activities were organized by the religious sites? Here, the figures for “summer camps for the youth” are of interest. According to the survey, 39.1% of the Catholic parishes and 19.5% of the Protestant parishes organize summer camps for the youth, but only 3.5% of the Buddhist, 1.4% of the Daoist and 2.9% of the Islamic sites.[27] As we know from our Catholic partners, these camps, organized by dioceses and parishes during the summer holidays, have been a most important way to offer religious instruction to Catholic pupils and students. (Other religious groups, like the Protestants, may have other forms of instructing the youth.)

 Inside Niujie-Mosque Beijing 2017 (Foto Mini)

In summer 2017, UCAN reported a growing number of incidents of local governments banning children and youth from attending Christian worship services and summer camps. In the reported cases, schools had ordered students to stop attending services, referring to instructions from the education bureaus of local governments. The first reports came from the provinces of Zhejiang and Henan.[28] Since then, these bans have been extended step by step. Last summer, UCAN reported that in some places the Church has been forced to give up summer camps altogether. Some of the dioceses and parishes manage to hold the courses in remote places without any publicity. In the last two years the authorities have been gradually reducing attendance at church by minors all across the country. The ban has not been imposed everywhere, but in the provinces of Henan, Jiangxi and Liaoning Province it is being strictly enforced, UCAN said in September last year.[29] We have heard of such bans in other places, even in the heavily Catholic provinces of Hebei and Shanxi, and also from Protestant churches in Nanjing and Hubei.

At the entrance of many churches you now see signs saying “Entry prohibited for minors.” In some places the police guard the entrance of churches on Sundays, preventing minors and even infants from entering the church. While in Xinjiang minors have been prohibited from entering mosques (and churches) for many years, there have been incidents of bans also in places inhabited by Chinese speaking Hui-Muslims. For instance, South China Morning Post reported in 2018 that authorities in Linxia, in the Autonomous Region of Ningxia of the Hui, have banned children under the age of 16 from attending religious services and religious education, and have severely limited the number of young people over the age of 16 who are allowed to be taught at a mosque.[30] The religious communities are of course very worried about the religious education of their children and see a danger for the transmission of faith to the next generation.

What is behind this ban? A Chinese scholar has told me that the Communist Party is fighting for the hearts of the young generation. Official legal reason sometimes given for the ban is the separation of education and religion as stated in the China`s Education Law.[31] On the other hand, on can claim that Article 36 of the Constitution grants freedom of religious belief to every citizen, without age restriction. To my knowledge, there is no legal norm on the national level that would forbid minors from attending religious activities or religious education. Also, China has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which says that “States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” (Article 14.1). Therefore, to my understanding, prohibiting children from practicing their religion has no legal basis according to China’s own standards.


We have seen that China, with its multi-religious tradition, has a very uniform Soviet style management system for the five major religions. A big part of religious life in China is taking place in a “grey area” on the margins or outside this corset-like management system. However, in the last few years party and state have made great efforts to reduce and eliminate this grey area. In spite of the uniformity of the management system we can see differences in the treatment of religions by the state; the demand to become Sinicized and to adapt more to Chinese traditions is not only, but mainly directed towards the religions that are perceived as having foreign roots.

  Beijing Wall with the 12 Socialist Core Values 2017

The scholar Richard Madsen said in 2015 that “Church state relations in China are a confusing, unstable mixture of Leninist-Stalinist policy and traditional imperial practice.” In his opinion, “Chinese state policy toward religion is […] in transition. One might say that the form of the policy is still Leninist-Stalinist but the spirit is imperial.” And he predicted that, depending on which imperial model Xi Jinping’s vision of church state relations is based on, “Catholicism and other forms of Christianity may not fare as well as religions based on Buddhism and Daoism.” [32] We will have to see how things develop. Madsen said five years ago: “In the meantime, the Catholic Church must be faithful to the Gospel and manifest love for all the Chinese people and respect for all the authentic dimensions of Chinese culture, full of the faith that in the end for those who love God all things work together for good.”[33] This is still true today.

Katharina Wenzel-Teuber

China-Zentrum, Sankt Augustin


[1] This is a quote from the Confucian classical book Mengzi (V.A.4): “There are not two suns in the sky, nor two sovereigns over the people.”

[2] Though religion in China was not free of violent elements, see Barend ter Haar, Religious Culture and Violence in Traditional China, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2019.

[3] An exception: The election and ordination of bishops is subject to the supervision of the Bishops’ Conference. However, the Regulations of the Chinese Catholic Bishops’ Conference Regarding the Election and Consecration of Bishops were adopted on December 12, 2012 by the standing committees of the Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference in joint session.

[4] See Regulations on Religious Affairs (2018), articles 8 and 10. For an English translation of the whole document, see Tripod, No. 188, Spring 2018, pp. 103-124, online at en/tripod_en/en_tripod_188_07.html .

[5] An English translation of the Measures for the Administration of Religious Organizations can be found on the platform China Law Translate: www.chinalaw

[6] This job advertisement could still be accessed on February 25, 2019 at report/1905/417-1.htm .

[7] Ian Johnson, “How the State Is Co-Opting Religion in China And What It Means for the Country’s Future,” Foreign Affairs Postscript, January 7, 2019.

[8] Zhuo Xinping, “Relationship between Religion and State in the People’s Republic of China,” in: RCTC 2014, No. 1, pp. 16-24, here p. 18.

[9] One example is article 3 of the Regulations on Religious Affairs (2018): “The management of religious affairs upholds the principles of protecting what is lawful, prohibiting what is unlawful, suppressing extremism, resisting infiltration, and fighting crime.” Here, a negative view of religion as something potentially dangerous is prevailing.

[10], February 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17.

[11] Cf. “News Update on Religion and Church in China” (henceforth quoted as: “News Update”), in: Religion & Christianity in Today’s China (henceforth quoted as: RCTC) 2019, No. 1, pp. 9-10.; AsiaNews Dec. 30, 2019. – All “News Updates” can be found at The quarterly RCTC can be accessed online at

[12] For legislation encouraging the reporting of illegal religious activities in Guangzhou (March 2019) and Xingtai (July 2019) see RCTC 2019, No. 2, p. 6; No. 4, p. 6.

[13] Cf. AsiaNews Oct. 31, 2019; UCAN Nov. 4, 2019.

[14] The text of the Pastoral Guidelines can be found at

[15] Cf. “News Update,” in: RCTC 2016, No. 4, pp. 3-4; 2019, No. 3, p. 8; No. 4, pp. 8-9.

[16] See Ian Johnson, China Bans Online Bible Sales as It Tightens Religious Controls, New York Times, April 5, 2018.

[17] On surveys regarding religion in the Internet, see K. Wenzel-Teuber, “Statistics on Religions and Churches in the People’s Republic of China – Update for the Year 2017.” With a contribution by Isabel Hess-Friemanm, in: RCTC 2018, No. 2, pp. 26-51, here pp. 26-33, Shamanism on the Internet pp. 32-33.

[18] Wang Zuo’an 王作安, “Yindao zongjiao Zhongguohua jincheng xing wen zhi yuan” 引领宗教中国化进程行稳致远 (Leading the process of Sinicization of religions to be steady and farreaching),, March 26, 2019; cf. “News Update,” in: RCTC 2019, No. 2, pp. 6-7.

[19] Mou Zhongjian 牟钟鉴 first promoted his theory of religious ecology in 2006, see Daniel Mohseni Kabir Bäckström, Religious Ecology and Sinofuturism, Bochum – Freiburg: projekt verlag 2019, p. 21. Here, I follow Mou Zhongjian’s article “Zongjao shengtai lun” 宗教生态论 (On Religious Ecology), in: Shijie zongjiao wenhua 世界宗教文化 (The World Religious Cultures) 2012, No. 1, pp. 1-10, esp. pp. 8-10.

[20] The two meetings were a party meeting on united front work in May 2015, and the National Conference on Religious Work in April 2016. Cf. “News Update,”, in: RCTC 2015, Nos. 3-4, pp. 16-17; 2016, No. 3, p. 7.

[21] An English translation of the Protestant five-year plan was published by UCAN: (retrieved February 21,2020). A German translation of the Catholic five-year plan was published in China heute 2018, No. 4, pp. 220-228, online at An English translation of the five-year plan for the Sinicization of Islam can be found at

[22] Cf. „Chronik zu Religion und Kirche in China“, in: China heute 2019, No. 4, p. 216.

[23] Cf. “News Update,”, in: RCTC 2016, No. 3, p. 7.

[24] Cf. “News Update,”, in: RCTC 2017, No. 3, pp. 9-10; 2018, No. 3, pp. 11-12.

[25] Cf. “News Update,”, in: RCTC 2018, No. 3, p. 12.

[26] Cf. “Chronik zu Religion und Kirche in China,” in: China heute 2019, No. 4, p. 215.

[27] Figures from the China Religion Survey cited according to K. Wenzel-Teuber, “Statistics on Religions and Churches in the People’s Republic of China – Update for the Year 2016,” in: RCTC 2017, No. 2, pp. 26-53, here p. 29.

[28] UCAN July 13, Aug. 29, Sept. 25, 2017; cf. “News Update,” in: RCTC 2017, No. 4, p. 12.

[29] UCAN Aug. 6, Sept. 10, 26, 2019; cf. “News Update,” in: RCTC 2019, No.4, pp. 13-15.

[30] South China Morning Post July 16, 2018; cf. “News Update,” in: RCTC 2018, No.4, pp. 12-13. On July 23, 2018, the official newspaper Global Times reported that underage students in Tibet may not participate in religious activities during the summer holidays; cf. RCTC 2018, No.4, p. 11.

[31] Art. 8 of the Education Law says: “The state shall separate education from religion. Any organization or individual may not employ religion to obstruct activities of the state education system.” See text of the law at

[32] Richard Madsen, “Church State Relations in China –Consequences for the Catholic Church,” in: RCTC 2015, Nos. 3-4, pp. 60-68, here pp. 60, 66-67.

[33] Ibid., p. 68.

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