Location and Territory
Geographical Features
Four Major Plateaus
Main Mountain Ranges
Rivers, Lakes and Water Resources
Ethnic Groups
Basic Facts of Various Ethnic Groups
Spoken and Written Languages
Religious Belief
Religious Policy
Religious Organizations
Religious Organizations

There are seven national religious organizations in China. They are the Buddhist Association of China, China Taoist Association, Islamic Association of China, Patriotic Association of the Catholic Church in China, Chinese Catholic Bishops College, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches of China and the China Christian Council. All the religious organizations elect leaders and leading bodies according to their own articles of association.

Religious Organizations in China


Time of Founding



Buddhist Association of China

May 1953


President: Yi Cheng

Honorary President: Paghalha Geleg Namgyai (Tibetan)

China Taoist Association

April 1957


President: Ren Farong

Islamic Association of China

May 1953


President: Chen Guangyuan (Hui)

Patriotic Association of the Catholic Church of China

July 1957


Chairman: Fu Tieshan

Chinese Catholic Bishops College



Chairman: Liu Yuanren (deceased)

The Three-Self* Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches of China

August 1954


Chairman: Ji Jianhong

Honorary Chairman: Ding Guangxun

China Christian Council

October 1980


President: Cao Shengjie (female)

Honorary President: Ding Guangxun

*Three-Self: Self-administration, self-support and self-propagation

All the religious organizations independently organize religious activities, conduct religious services, run religious schools, and train young religious staff under the protection of the Constitution and the law. Currently, there are 74 religious schools in China, the most popular being the Chinese Institute of Buddhist Studies, the Institute of Islamic Theology, the Chinese Institute of Taoist Studies, the Jinling Union Theological Seminary in Nanjing and the Chinese Catholic Seminary. Chinese religious organizations maintain contacts and exchanges with other religious organizations in more than 70 countries and regions in the world. Religious personnel also play an extensive role in political affairs, with 17,000 of them being deputies to people's congresses and members of the committees of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at various levels.

On August 14, 2005, Chairman of the China Religion and Peace Committee Ding Guangxun read an announcement to the country's religious cirle, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. In the announcement, he appealed to all religious groups to include prayer for peace among main content of regular religious ceremonies, set the week between August 14 and 20 as the Week of Prayer for World Peace, and make joint efforts to maintain peace for human kinds.

On December 30, 2005, China Religious Culture Communication Association was founded in Beijing. The organization was organized by people from all walks of life who are devoted to the exchange of religious culture from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau special administration regions and overseas. It is a national non-profit social organization with independent artificial person. The association, with its representative meeting, council, standing council and secretariat for daily business, mainly deals with religious exchange and cooperation among the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau special administration regions, as well as all other countries and regions, promotion of favorable content among the religious culture, introduction of China's religious situation and religious freedom policy to the world, and construction of a platform for religious exchange and cooperation and related services.

Fu Tieshan, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Chairman of Patriotic Association of the Catholic Church of China and Acting Chairman of the Bishops Conference of Catholic of China, Pagbalha Geleg Namgyae, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and Honorary Chairman Buddhist Association of China and Ding Guangxun, Honorary Chairman of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches of China and Honorary President of China Christian Council, were elected as honorary presidents. Ye Xiaowen, Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs of China, was invited to preside the association.


Buddhism was introduced from ancient India around the first century. After long development and evolution, it was divided into Han (Chinese) Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism (popularly known as Lamaism) and Pali Buddhism (also known as Hinayana, or Lesser Vehicle). Han Buddhism is quite influential among Han people, but because there are no strict rituals and rules for becoming a Buddhist believer, it is hard to produce statistics on the nu mber of believers. Tibetan Buddhism is basically the religion of ethnic minorities such as Tibetan, Mongolian, Yugur, Moinba and Tu, with a total of about 7.6 million believers. Pali Buddhism is basically the religion of such ethnic minorities as Dai, Blang, De'ang and Va, with the number of believers surpassing 1.5 million.

Currently, there are more than 13,000 Buddhist temples with about 200,000 monks and nuns. Of them, Tibetan Buddhism has about 120,000 lamas and nuns, over 1,700 living Buddha and more than 3,000 monasteries. Pali Buddhism has nearly 10,000 monks, nuns and elders, and more than 1,600 temples. In areas inhabited by the Han people, 142 Buddhist temples are under state-level protection.

The three language families of Buddhism have altogether 19 colleges/schools at the primary, secondary and senior levels, including 14 in Han, four in Tibetan and one in Pali. There are Buddhist websites on the Internet, such as China Buddhism Online (www.fjnet) and China Buddhism Information Network (


Taoism originated from China in the second century. Characterized by nature worship and ancestral worship, Taoism was historically divided into many sects, which gradually evolved into two major ones—Quanzhen Taoism (Way of Completeness and Truth) and Zhengyi Taoism (Way of Orthodox Unity). Primarily, Taoism is popular among the Han people. As there are no strict rituals and rules for becoming a Taoist, statistics on believers are not available. Currently, there are more than 1,500 Taoist temples in China.


Islam was introduced from Arabia in the seventh century. There are two major sects—Sunni and Shiite—with Chinese followers primarily belonging to the former. The vast majority of the 10 ethnic minorities of Hui, Uygur, Tatar, Kirgiz, Kazak, Ozbek, Tajik, Dongxiang, Salar and Bonan, totaling more than 20 million people, are Muslims. Currently, there are more than 30,000 mosques in China.


Catholicism began to enter into China in the seventh century, but did not get popular until after the First Opium War (1840-42). Currently, Chinese Catholics have 100 dioceses with close to 5 million followers. There are 5,000 churches open to the public throughout the country, together with 12 seminaries. Every year, about 50,000 people are baptized in Catholic churches. Since 1981, Chinese Catholic Church has trained and consecrated more than 1,500 priests. Of them, over 100 have been sent to seminaries in the United States, France, Britain, Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and other countries, some of them obtaining a Master's or Doctor's degree before returning to China.

The Chinese Catholic Church has its own publishing organs, which have printed more than 3 million copies of The Bible and other kinds of religious works. Influential Catholic churches in the country are St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral (Xuanwumen Church) in Beijing, the Church of St. Michael in Qingdao of Shandong Province, the Church of St. Joseph (Xikai Cathedral) in Tianjin, Hongjialou Church in Jinan of Shandong Province, and Sheshan Church in Shanghai.


Protestantism was first introduced via Persia as early as 635. However, due to its failure to root itself in Chinese society and culture, it had never achieved significant development and almost disappeared several times. In the 19th century, Protestantism made significant advances into China from the West. In 1950, Chinese Protestants launched the three-self patriotic campaign, which consequently enabled them to be independent through self-administration, self-support and self-propagation. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), church activities were suspended. They resumed in 1979, followed by the founding of the Chinese Christian Council in 1980.

Over the past two and a half decades, Protestantism has developed well in China under the leadership of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches of China and the Chinese Christian Council. Approximately 50,000 churches are now open to the public, 70 percent of them being built in recent years. The number of Chinese Protestants has surpassed 16 million, with rural followers accounting for over 70 percent.

At present, there are 18 seminaries and Bible schools throughout the country, and nearly 5,000 graduates are serving in churches or seminaries all over China. The Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches of China and the Chinese Christian Council have published and distributed approximately 30 million copies of The Bible, 14 million copies of The Psalms (new edition). They also have their own website Chinese Protestant Church (

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