China’s Religious Affairs Policy

  • Ray Wang
Part of the Human Rights Interventions book series (HURIIN)


What are the origins of religious tolerance and repression? How do frontline religious affairs officials decide who should be punished and who should be approved or rewarded? This chapter provides historical and institutional details for the above theory and interpretations of these important questions. In short, the Chinese Communist Party created a religious affairs system to operate an army of religious establishments (the opportunists) that have monitored, divided, and co-opted independent religious organizations (the protestors) since the 1950s. Relying on the discourse of anti-imperialism, this system fostered a rigid religious affairs policy and then hostility from the system toward transnational activism. The functionality of the two mechanisms, backdoor listing and minority–majority alliance, is to overcome these two barriers by promoting an uneasy collaboration between foreign advocates and local activists.


  1. A true story about Taishi village incident. (2005). China Daily. Retrieved December 11, 2018, from
  2. Anthony, C. Y. (2003). On state and religion in China: A brief historical reflection. Berkeley, CA: Institute for World Religions.Google Scholar
  3. Anthony, C. Y. (2005). State and religion in China: Historical and textual perspectives. Chicago: Open Court Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bowie, J., & Gitter, D. (2018). The CCP’s plan to ‘Sinicize’ religions. The Diplomat. Retrieved December 11, 2018, from
  5. Bush, R. C. (1970). Religion in Communist China. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cai, Y. (2010). Collective resistance in China: Why popular protests succeed or fail. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cartwright, F. T. (1949). Protestant missions in Communist China. Far Eastern Survey, 18(26), 301–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. CPC Central Research Office (中共中央文獻研究室). (1992). Selected important documents since the building of People’s Republic (建國以來重要文獻選編) (Vo1. 2). Beijing: Central Literature Publishing House.Google Scholar
  9. Ewing, R. D. (2003). Hu Jintao: The making of a Chinese general secretary. The China Quarterly, 173, 17–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Guo Baosheng and Pastor Liu Yi in the “Constant Religious Persecution under the Xi’s Regime” speeches at the press conference (郭寶勝、劉貽牧師在“習政權下不斷惡化的宗教迫害”新聞會上的發言). (2015). China Aid. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from
  11. Guo Feixiong and Li Boguang talk about freedom of speech, religious freedom, and rule of law (郭飛雄李柏光談言論宗教自由法制). (2006). Epoch Times. Retrieved from
  12. Hodous, L. (1930). The Anti-Christian movement in China. The Journal of Religion, 10(4), 487–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hunter, A., & Chan, K.-K. (2007). Protestantism in contemporary China (Vol. 3). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Kindopp, J., & Hamrin, C. L. (2004). God and Caesar in China: Policy implications of church–state tensions. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  15. Latourette, K. S. (1970). Christianity in a revolutionary age. Vol. III: The 19th century outside Europe. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.Google Scholar
  16. Law for the punishment of counterrevolutionaries. (1951, February 22). People’s Daily.Google Scholar
  17. Leung, K. L. (2002). Blessing upon China: Ten talks on the contemporary church history of China. Hong Kong: Tien Dao Publishing House.Google Scholar
  18. Leung, K. L. (2006). Churches in China: Today and tomorrow. Hong Kong: China Alliance Press.Google Scholar
  19. Li, Y. (2008). No compromise. Christian History, (98), p. 21.Google Scholar
  20. Lutz, J. G. (1976). Chinese nationalism and the anti-Christian campaigns of the 1920s. Modern Asian Studies, 10(3), 395–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Marsh, C. (2011). Religion and the state in Russia and China: Suppression, survival, and revival. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  22. O’Brien, K. J. (1996). Rightful resistance. World Politics, 49(1), 31–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. O’Brien, K. J. (2009). Popular protest in China (Vol. 15). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  24. O’Brien, K. J. (2013). Rightful resistance revisited. Journal of Peasant Studies, 40(6), 1051–1062.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Price, F. W. (1948). The rural church in China, a survey. New York: Agricultural Missions.Google Scholar
  26. Ren, J. (2007). The religious policy of Chinese Communist Party (中國共產黨的宗教政策). Beijing: People’s Publishing House.Google Scholar
  27. Second Historical Archives of China (中國第二歷史檔案館). (1994). Comprehensive collection of archival papers on history of Republic of China (中國民國史檔案資料彙編, Vol. 5(1), “Culture”). Nanjing: Jiangsu Classics Publishing House.Google Scholar
  28. Stockwell, F. O. (1953). With God in Red China: The story of two years in Chinese Communist. New York: Harper & Brothers.Google Scholar
  29. Sumiko, Y. (2000). History of Protestantism in China: The indigenization of Christianity. Tokyo: Tōhō Gakkai (Institute of Eastern Culture.Google Scholar
  30. Tiedemann, R. G. (2012). Comity agreements and sheep stealers: The elusive search for Christian unity among Protestants in China. International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 36(1), 3–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Vala, C. T. (2008). Failing to contain religion: The emergence of a Protestant movement in contemporary China. Doctor’s dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  32. Wang, M. D. (1955). For the faith (我們是為了信仰). Spiritual Food Quarterly (靈食季刊). Retrieved August 30, 2012, from
  33. Wang, S. C. & Chien, T. S. (1997). Comparative constitution (比較憲法). Beijing: China University of Political Science and Law.Google Scholar
  34. Wang, S., & Min, M. (2002). The long road to freedom: The story of Wang Mingdao. Ellel, Lancaster: Sovereign World.Google Scholar
  35. Xi, L. (2010). Redeemed by fire: The rise of popular Christianity in modern China. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Xu, Z. (2012). China’s New Citizens’ Movement (中國新公民運動). Retrieved December 21, 2018, from
  37. Yang, F. (2006). The red, black, and gray markets of religion in China. The Sociological Quarterly, 47, 93–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yang, F. (2008). A sociological reflection on Confucianism as religion. Journal of Lanzhou University (Social Sciences), 2, 6.Google Scholar
  39. Yang, F. (2018). The failure of the campaign to demolish church crosses in Zhejiang province, 2013–2016. Review of Religion and Chinese Society, 5(1), 5–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ying, F. (2008a). Christianity’s failure in China? Essays on the history of Chinese Communist Movement and Christianity (基督教在中國的失敗?─中國共產運動與基督教史論). Hong Kong: Institute of Sino-Christian Studies.Google Scholar
  41. Ying, F. (2008b). Geographic distribution of mainland Chinese Christians in the 20th century. In J.-M. Chen & J.-F. Liu (Eds.), The studies of Chinese Christian regional history (中國基督教區域史研究). Chengdu City: Bashu Publishing House.Google Scholar
  42. Ying, F. (2009). The regional development of Protestant Christianity in China: 1918, 1949 and 2004. China Review, 9(2), 63–97. (Hong Kong: CUHK Press).Google Scholar
  43. Ying, F. (2015). Chinese civil rights movements and Christian faith (中國維權運動與基督教信仰). Christian Times (時代論壇), 1382(3). Retrieved from
  44. Ying, F. (2016). The politics of cross demolishment: The religious and political analysis of Zhejiang’s three rectifications and one demolition (拆十字架的政治—浙江省「三改一拆」運動的宗教-政治分析). Logos and Pneuma: Christian Culture Review (道風:基督教文化評論), 44, 25–61.Google Scholar
  45. Ying, F., & Leung, K.-L. (1996). The Three-Self Patriotic Movement in 1950s (五十年代三自運動的研究). Hong Kong: China Alliance Press.Google Scholar
  46. Yu, X.-W. (2015). First time public declaration of Zhejiang’s Christian council and patriotic Catholic church to stop demolishing crosses (浙江基督教協會、天主教兩會首次公開聲明要求停拆十字架). Gospel Times (福音時報). Retrieved from
  47. Zhang, B. H. & Hu, F. (2001). Nanjing Republic Government (1927–1937): Religious regulations (南京國民政府 (1927–1937) 宗教法規評析). Pu-Shi Institute for Social Science. Retrieved July 8, 2012, from
  48. Zhou, E. (1984). Enlain’s selected works on united front (周恩來統一戰線文選). Beijing: Beijing People’s Publishing House.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ray Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate Institute of East Asian StudiesNational Chengchi UniversityTaipei CityTaiwan

Personalised recommendations