POPULATION1,343,239,923 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA$8,500 (2011 est.)
RELIGIONSDaoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2% note: officially atheist (2002 est.)
ALSO IN EAST ASIAJapan
AT THE CENTER
China has a long tradition of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, which have undergone a revival due to many of the government’s restrictions on religious practice having been lifted since the 1980s. The Han Dynasty (202 BCE-220 CE) promulgated Confucianism as the state culture, which it has largely remained. Buddhism gained significant influence by the 5th century and mixed considerably with native Daoism. The Communist Party implemented state atheism when it came to power in 1949 and attempted to expunge religion from society during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). However, religious practice surged as prohibitions eased. Chinese religious policy is freedom of belief and practice with government oversight of organization and political action. The government oversees officially organized religious bodies, though underground organizations also exist, particularly for Christianity. Foreign proselytism is illegal, and Communist Party members are required to be atheist. Internal conflicts tend to have a religious element, as seen in the cases of the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Xinjiang province.