Religion and governance in the People’s Republic of China

Atheism is the official religious position of China; however, the Chinese constitution affirms “freedom of religious belief,” and religion plays a role in the life of many Chinese. Five religions are officially recognized by the state: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism.  Estimates suggest that 30% of Chinese follow one of these official religions. Buddhism is most widely practiced, with estimated 100 million followers across China. There are no official statistics confirming the number of Taoists, whereas official figures indicate there are 23 million Muslims, 20 million Protestants, and 5.3 million Catholics. Unofficial estimates for each religion are higher. According to incomplete statistics, China hosts more than 130,000 religious sites, some 360,000 clergy persons, and over 5,500 religious organizations. In addition, there are 110 religious colleges run by religious organizations for training clergy personnel and religious leaders. Mosques in China number more than 40,000.

The sub-sections below cover aspects of the organization and influence of religion in matters of state with a focus on Islam: