Religions in China
China is a multi-religious country. Taoism, Buddhism, lslamism, Protestantism and Catholicism have all developed quite a following in this country. Freedom of belief is a government policy, and normal religious activities are protected by the constitution.
Buddhism spread from India to China some 2,000 years ago. Chinese Buddhism may be classified according to languages into three communities: Mandarin, Tibetan and Bali. Most of the Mandarin Buddhist believers are Han Chinese while Tibetan Buddhist (generally called Lamaist) believers are people of the Tibetan, Mongolian, Yugur, Lhoba, Moinba and Tujia nationalities, and Bali Buddhist believers are people of the Dai and Bulang ethnic groups that mainly live in Yunnan Province. The Buddhist communities are the largest religious communities in China. However, since quite a few of Han believers are not always steadfast followers of Buddhism, it is hard to count their exact numbers. Read more information on Buddhism in China.
Recommended Buddhist Sites
- Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai
- Yonghe Palace Lama Temple in Beijing
- Bid Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an
- Dazu Rock Carvings in Chongqing
- Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet
- Mt. Emei in Sichuan Province
Taoism is native and has a history of more than 1,700 years. Its founder was Lao tzu and its doctrines are based on his writings, the tao teaching. Taoism, a polytheistic religion, is still quite influential in rural areas inhabited by Han Chinese. Read more information on Taoism.
Recommended Taoist Sites
- Mt. Tai in Shandong Province
- Mt. Huangshan (the Yellow Mountains) in Anhui Province
- City God Temple in Shanghai
Islam spread from the Arab Countries to China more than 1,300 years ago. It now has more than 14 million believers among the Hui, Yugur, Kazak, Ozbek, Tajik, Tatar, Kirgiz, Dongxiang Sala and Banan ethnic groups. The Islamic followers mainly live in Provinces of Xinjiang, Ningxia, Ganxu and Qinghai in northwest China. There are also Islamic communities scattered in almost every city. The Muslims do not not eat pork, dogs, horses, donkeys or mules. Read more on: History of Islam in China, Mosques in China, Halal food in China and Islamic holidays.
Recommended Islamic Sites
- The Great Mosque in Xi'an City
- Idgar Mosque in Kashgar City, Xinjiang Province
- Grand Kuqa Mosque in Kuqa City, Xinjiang Province
- Dongguan Mosque in Xining City, Gansu Province
Catholicism and other forms of Christianity began to make their way into China very early. In 635, a missionary of the Nestorian sect came to China from Persia, the then called JING. The religion withered long before gaining a strong foothold in China. It was after the Sino-British Opium War in 1840 that the Christian developed rapidly in China. After the founding of New China, Chinese Catholic and Christian communities took the path of independence and self administration. Now there are more than 3.3 million catholic and nearly 5 million protestants in the country. Read more information on Christianity in China.
Recommended Christian Sites
- St. Ignatius Cathedral in Shanghai
- St. Sophia Orthodox Church in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province
- St. John's Cathedral in Hong Kong
In addition, there are also members of the Orthodox Eastern Church and of other religions among minority groups.
No religion has ever assumed a dominant position in China. Foreign religions, influenced and assimilated by time-honored Chinese Culture and tradition have gradually become religions with Chinese characteristic. Religious believers make up only a tiny proportion of the 1.3 billion Chinese people.
I updated this article on July 29, 2013
See all my travel articles
Questions and Answers About Religions in China
China is amazing, with more than 5,000 years history and brilliant culture. Welcome to China.Whitney Liao replied on 2013-05-05