China Religion and Military

China Religion and Military


China is a secular state. The constitution (Article 36) guarantees religious freedom and binds religious activity to the general state legal framework. However, the legal integration of religious communities and their institutions into “foreign” religious organizational and legal structures is excluded. Local religious communities are required to register with the state through the Office of Religious Affairs. Daoism , Buddhism , Islam and Christianity are officially recognized as religions(Catholics and Protestants). The religion law that came into force in 2005 forms the basis of the state’s religious policy. It allows the state-recognized religious communities to set up and maintain their own social facilities such as kindergartens, children’s and senior citizens’ homes and hospitals. The socio-political activity of religious communities is excluded – with reference to the principle of the separation of state and religion. This includes public relations work, the establishment of lay organizations and events outside of the worship and prayer rooms. With regard to the clergy of all religions, personal loyalty and a “patriotic” attitude towards the socialist state are required.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the socialist state initiated the formation of national religious associations: Chinese Taoist Association, Three-Self Movement (1950, Protestant), Chinese Islamic Society (1952), Chinese Buddhist Association (1953) and Patriotic Association of Catholics of China (1958). They were supposed to enforce the state’s religious policy, control the faith communities and prevent independent relationships with foreign countries, especially the Christian churches with their mother churches. The cultural revolution was the most serious intervention in religious life(1965 / 66–69), who massively persecuted believers and clergy of all religions and the closure, destroyed or repurposed thousands of places of faith and prayer and led to the fall of the Chinese Orthodox Church. From 1977 onwards, the state’s religious policy was redefined, which resulted in a “religious renaissance”. Several thousand temples, monasteries, churches and mosques were reopened or reopened.

Information on religious affiliation is only possible approximately. According to estimates, which updated previous statistical data taking into account information provided by the religious communities (especially the Christian churches), a heterogeneous picture emerges: between 47 and 52% of the population live without religious ties, with a comparatively low proportion of conscious atheists. About a quarter of the population is attributed to Chinese religions (Daoism, folk religions); up to 18% are Buddhists and less than 2% are Muslims. With regard to Christians (based primarily on information from Protestant mission societies), the proportion ranges from 5 to 10%, with only one percent belonging to a state-recognized church. Kaifeng- born Chinese who consider themselves Jewish descendants) – Hong Kong only.

Buddhism is particularly widespread in north-west and north-east China (Sinkiang , Inner Mongolia , Heilongjiang) as well as in Tibet , while Islam is widespread among the Turkic peoples in north-west China (Sinkiang, Qinghai , Gansu). The traditional folk religions with the worship of ancestors, local gods and nature deities are practiced by both rural and urban populations across China. In the practice of piety there is often a “mixture” with elements of Daoism and Confucianism.

Within Chinese Christianity, Protestant communities are growing rapidly, the members of which usually gather in house churches that are not registered by the state. The Chinese Christian Council, formed in 1980 as an association of four state-recognized Protestant churches (Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians), is an association of evangelical Christians in China in 1991 in the World Council of Churches (World Council of Churches) has been accepted. The Catholic Christians belong to two churches: in the minority of the state-controlled Catholic Independent Patriotic (National) Church that is not recognized by the Vatican, but the majority of the Catholic “underground church”, which sees itself as part of the universal Catholic Church; some of its members are exposed to state persecution. In the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong, on the other hand, the Catholic Church enjoys extensive freedoms, albeit not without occasional attempts at control by the central government.


The People’s Liberation Army form the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China. The total strength of the conscription army (service period 2 years) including support forces is 2 million soldiers. The army has around 1 million soldiers, the air force over 400,000 and the navy over 240,000. Around 100,000 soldiers serve in the strategic missile forces with their nuclear weapons. The paramilitary forces include the armed people’s police with 660,000 members. She was subordinated to the military in 2017.

After the USA, China ranks second in the world in terms of armaments spending. Official defense spending amounted to 1.9% of gross domestic product in 2018. Further military expenditure is hidden in other items of the state budget, for example for veterans, research and space travel. In addition, the army has its own commercial enterprises. China has not ratified the general nuclear test ban agreement, but has not conducted nuclear weapons tests since 1996. The army is to be comprehensively modernized by 2035, with a focus on the navy. According to recipesinthebox, the defense budget has grown faster than the gross domestic product in recent years, in 2018 by 8.1% compared to the previous year. On the other hand, personnel were reduced, especially in the army. In 2017, the People’s Liberation Army established its first naval base outside of China in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.

China Religion and Military