Religions & Social Customs

The Policy of Freedom of Religious Belief 

The Constitution of China specifies: Citizens of the PRC enjoy freedom of religious belief.  No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may anyone discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion.

The Criminal Law of China, the General Principles of the Civil Law, the National Minority Regional Autonomy Law, the Education Law, the Labor Law, the Electoral Law of the People’s Congresses, and the Organic Law Governing Villagers’ Committees include corresponding articles stipulating that citizens’ freedom of religious belief should be protected, and that citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion should not be discriminated against.

The policy of freedom of religious belief adopted by the Chinese government has the following basic contents:

—Respecting and protecting freedom of religious belief. In China, every citizen enjoys the freedom to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion. Within a religion, every Chinese citizen has the freedom to believe in any denomination or division. Each citizen has the freedom to adopt or reject a religious belief. This means that believing in or not believing in religion is a citizen’s personal affair, and no state organ, public organization or individual may put pressure on any citizen in this regard. All citizens are completely equal, are entitled to equal rights and at the same time must perform the duties prescribed by law, whether or not they are religious believers.

—Protecting normal religious activities. All normal religious activities held at special sites for religious activities or in believers’ homes according to religious custom shall be managed by religious organizations and believers, and shall be protected by the law. No one shall interfere with them. The Regulations on the Management of Sites for Religious Activities promulgated by the Chinese government specify: The site for religious activities shall be managed by the administration organization of the site autonomously. Its lawful rights and interests and normal religious activities held at the site shall be protected by the law. Whoever infringes upon the lawful rights and interests of a site for religious activities shall bear legal responsibility.

—All religions are equal. In China, no religion occupies a privileged position. The Chinese government treats all religions equally, without discrimination. All religions shall respect  each other and co-exist in harmony. In China, religion is separated from political power and from education too. State power shall not use religion in its own service; and religion shall not interfere with the state’s administration, judicature and education.

—All religions adopt the principle of independence and self-management. Chinese religions shall be run solely by the religious organizations, clergy and believers themselves. Chinese religious affairs and organizations shall not be controlled by foreign forces. Chinese religious organizations are willing to conduct friendly exchanges with their counterparts in other countries to strengthen mutual understanding and friendship. But such exchanges must be based on complete equality and mutual respect.


During the Shoton Festival, the Drepung Monastery in Lhasa held the rites of airing the giant Buddha portrait.

The Potala Palace in Tibet, first built in the seventh century A.D.

Lamas chanting scriptures in the Yonghe Lamasery, Beijing.


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Last updated: 2000-07-13.