China will become increasingly Christian in the coming decades, predicts the director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University, in Indiana, USA.
“By 2030, China is projected to have some 225 million Protestant Christians alone, a figure similar to the entire Christian population today in the United States,” said Fenggang Yang. “It is reasonable to expect the growth will continue at least until it reaches 30% of [the] population.”
Jonathan Tam, a doctoral candidate at the UK’s University of Oxford, says that although the Chinese government views the Church with “scepticism”, it is happy to allow Christianity to grow, providing the government is able to maintain an element of control.
“To quote from one of my interviews with a diaspora religious leader, ‘The Chinese government is just like an old traditional Chinese father. If you save his face, he will let you do whatever you like. So just don’t make him lose face and publicly embarrass him’,” writes Tam.
“China’s religious policy in the foreseeable future is to maintain flexibility. As many things are in China, what is written may not be what is practiced. The state recognises that it is impossible for its domestic religious communities to be religiously sequestered from the rest of the world in the face of rapid globalisation. Even though official religious channels are closed, religious ideas and practices can still be imported covertly as long as one plays by China’s unwritten rules.”