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Cities in CHINA




Atheism WorldwideAtheism WorldwidePhoto: Public domain

China is officially an atheist country, and it should come as no surprise that China sees religion as the cause of the fall of communism in Europe.

In the mid-20th century, religious life in China had a hard time. In particular during and after the Cultural Revolution, the state campaigned against all religions, but also against Taoism and Confucianism. Most churches, temples and mosques were closed at that time.

Marxism aimed to eliminate all religions. This forced all religious groups to go underground. During this time many so-called house communitees arose. As a result, the state lost control of the churches, which is why they opted for a different strategy in the mid-1970s.

After 1977 this attitude changed and in 1982 a constitutional amendment ensured freedom of religion, and many religious buildings were opened again.

The bankruptcy of global communism led to a spiritual no man's land that was filled with a hodgepodge of beliefs. In the pursuit of happiness, gods, spirits and ancestors are revered. This is adapted to local traditions and mixed with Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

Animism is still found in the remote mountain regions and deserts.

The traditional religions of deeply religious China are Taoism (actually more of a folk belief) and Buddhism. Confucianism, a social-philosophical movement, is also widespread. Buddhism was imported from India, so really only Taoism is the only truly indigenous religion. The ancestor worship surrounded by ceremonies is still quite common.

No exact figures are known about the number of followers of traditional religions, but it is estimated that Buddhism has about 100 million followers and Taoism about 30 million; Confucianism is widespread.

The number of Muslims is estimated at 20 million, and they are most strongly represented in the autonomous regions of Ninxia Hui and Xinjiang Uygur.

In 1988, there were about 7 million registered Christians in the country, of whom about 60% were members of the National Catholic Church, which incidentally broke away from Rome in 1958.

The Evangelical Church of China has a rapidly growing following (1994: approx. 20 million).

Various religions and philosophical movements

TAOISM or DAOISM "Freedom of desires brings inner peace"

Taoism worldwideTaoism worldwidePhoto: Public domain

In fact, Taoism or "daojiao" is more mystical than religious, although some directions also have gods. Taoism was probably founded by Lao-tze in the 6th century BC. His ideas were recorded in the Tao Te Jing ("About the Power of the Road").

Taoism is characterized by a contemplative view of life, in which one can achieve something by not doing or "wu wei". Man must follow his own nature, without external restrictions. It is assumed that everything arises and happens of its own accord. Taoists believe in the order of nature and condemn products of civilization such as wealth, knowledge, laws and sophisticated manners.

During its development, Taoism incorporated the yin-yang system of balanced opposites. Yin stands for the feminine element, which is associated with the moon, winter, darkness, longing and passivity, while yang, the masculine element, is associated with the sun, summer, light, creativity and dominance.

The "Road" can also be achieved by practicing Tai Chi Quan, a Taoist martial art.Taoism is the great counterpart of the strict Confucian doctrine.


Buddhist monks at the Jinai Temple in Zhuhai, Guangdong, ChinaBuddhist monks at the Jinai Temple in Zhuhai, Guangdong, ChinaPhoto: Tar-ba-gan CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Buddhism was founded in the 5th-6th century BC. founded by the Indian prince Siddharta Gautama, and between the 3rd and 6th century AD. brought to China, where it acquired a Chinese character, with its own distinct shapes and culture.

The central theme of Buddhism is the elimination of desire; the so-called "eightfold path" that leads to nirvana, a transcendent freedom.

Mahayana Buddhism is generally found in China. This form of Buddhism differs from Indian Theravada Buddhism in that Bodhisattbas (people who have become buddhas but temporarily renounce nirvana) should postpone their Buddhahood to help other people.

The typical Tibetan Buddhism is found in Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Their leader has been entitled "Dalai Lama" since the 16th century. Various llama sects arose from the 7th to the 14th centuries. A reform movement in the latter century led to the emergence of the Yellow Sect (Gelugpas) which would then become predominant. This belief appealed not only to Tibetans, but also to Mongols, Naxi, Loba, Monba and Dahur, among others.

The Big Buddha of Leshan is the largest stone-carved Buddha in the world. The statue measures 71 meters, and was made more than 1200 years ago during the Tang Dynasty. The head of this Buddha is 15 meters high, his ears 7.5 meters long and his eyes 3 meters wide. About 100 people can stand on his feet without any problems.

CONFUCIANISM "A balanced combination of nature and culture gives the right attitude to life"

Statue of Confucius at Nanjing ChinaStatue of Confucius at Nanjing ChinaPhoto: Kevinsmithnyc CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Confucianism or 'rujia sixiang' is named after the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC). It is a paternalistic social philosophy, which presents the Chinese people with the codes, rules and norms for their behavior, and Confucius (Kung Fu-tse) drew up more than 3000 rules of conduct for this.

According to Confucianism, one should not act as your heart dictates, but as your social status demands of you. General Chinese characteristics such as diligence, moderation, modesty and respect for the family (including great respect for the elderly) are due to Confucianism. Confucius also found it very important that every individual should achieve great versatility and intelligence and be emotionally balanced. Confucius also firmly believed in the basic goodness of man; it is due to a lack of "insight" (read: education) that man falls into mistakes.

Until the early 20th century, Confucianism controlled the thinking and acting of the social elite in China. Politically it has remained an important movement up to that time.

Another important representative of the school founded by Confucius is Men Zi or Mencius (372-289 BC). Mencius' teachings have had a major influence on neo-Confucianism, which began during the Song Dynasty (960-1280).

Taizi mosque in Yinchuan, ChinaTaizi mosque in Yinchuan, ChinaPhoto: Fanghong CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


Islam or "yisilan jiao" has been brought to China by the Arab merchants via the Silk Road, and further by sea to the south coast where most mosques are now found. At present, Islam has about 48 million believers among the minorities.

The Uighurs are a striking Islamic population group, as they are descended from the Arab traders who brought Islam to China. They mainly live in the northwest, in Xinjiang province.

The Huy are also an important Islamic population group. They mainly live in Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai and Xinjiang provinces.

Xishiku church in Beijing Xishiku church in BeijingPhoto: Gene Zhang CC 2.0 Generic no changes made


Christianity or "jidu jiao" is gaining more and more adherents in contemporary China through missionary work through emerging capitalism. In the 7th century, a Christian Syrian sect, the Nestorians, came to China, followed by the Jesuits.

According to the government, there are currently about 7 million Catholics and 20 million Protestants and Evangelists in China.



Informatie Verre Reizen

Eijck, F. / Reishandboek China

Floor, H. / China
Stichting Teleac

Harper, D. / China

Jansen, I. / China

Knowles, C. / China
Van Reemst

MacDonald, G. / China

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Last updated June 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info