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Christian Population In China

China Daily, the official English language newspaper, had a top story on Christmas celebrations in China on Christmas Day.

There are some facts about Christian populations in China that are supplementary to the basic facts about Christianity in China.

China Daily’s numbers are within my estimated range. The reason I used a range for Christian population in China is because there are so many different numbers, some using conservative methods while others using more liberal methods.

According to the China Daily: “There were 70 million protestants in China by the end of last year, one of the largest Christian populations in the world, showed research by the Chinese Academy of Social Science. The Beijing Catholicism Committee also said that in the capital alone, the number of Catholics has risen to about 80,000 from fewer than 30,000 in the 1940s.”

Later in the story, it says “The Chinese Academy of Social Science report on the number of Christians, which has been presented to the central government, was the first ever to feature those who attend house churches.”

It continues, “The previous figures was just 16 million Christians, which included only those people who attend or are affiliated with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China, the state-approved church.”

“Set up in 1954, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement – self-support, self-governance and self-propagation – was closed for 13 years before its restoration by the government in 1979.”

The story also touches on one interesting question: does the Chinese government support the official churches? If so, how?

The story says that local governments are starting to lend more support to churches. One church in Xitang, a small town close to Shanghai, was able to buy a piece of land from its local government for a below-the-market price.

So even though the Protestant church aims to self-support, it still receives indirect government support.