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Strange mix of Church and state in China

HONG KONG (SE): In the first issue for 2014 of Religions & Christianity in Today’s China, Zhuo Xinping, the director of the Institute for World Religions at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, describes the relationship between religion and the state as neither integration nor separation.

“The relationship between religion and state in the People’s Republic of China,” Zhuo says, “is neither integration nor separation of religion and state.”

China-Zentrum e.V maintains that Zhou believes that the only relationship that has ever existed is the primacy of the state and the subordination of religion.

However, Zhou does say that today this relationship is also influenced by present developments and the global context.

“What role religion should or could play in the People’s Republic, whether religion in China can be accepted as a normal phenomenon among the people and whether there is a possibility for politics to be linked to religion or not, is still a matter of contention in China,” he says.

He maintains that all these problems may be discussed nowadays, which shows that there is an open and tolerant atmosphere with regard to this question in Chinese society.

In his conclusion, Zhou gives an outlook on three possible future developments of the complicated relationship between religion and state in modern China, with the third realistic possibility being the Chinese government giving religion more freedom and maintaining the existence of religion within the current framework.

The issue concludes with a report on the international conference Catholicism and China: Dialogue, Inculturation and Responsibility, held in Hong Kong during November 2013.


Jointly organised by the Yuan Dao Study Society of Hong Kong diocese and the Centro Studi Li Madou in Macerata, Italy, with the Monumenta Serica Institute and the China-Zentrum (both in Sankt Augustin, Germany) as co-organisers, more than half of the participants came from mainland China, both from state universities and from the Church.

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