Christianity in China
Christianity in China is the fastest growing minority[clarification needed] religion that comprises Protestants (Chinese: 基督教; pinyin: Jīdū jiào; literally "Christ Religion" or Chinese: 新教; pinyin: Xīn jiào; literally "New Churches"), Catholics (Chinese: 天主教; pinyin: Tiānzhǔ jiào; literally "Lord of Heaven Religion"), and a small number of Orthodox Christians (Chinese: 東正教/东正教; pinyin: Dōngzhèng jiào; literally "Eastern Orthodox Churches"). Christians in China are also referred to as Chinese: 基督徒; pinyin: Xīn jiào tú; literally "Christ believers" and Chinese: 基督教徒; pinyin: jīdū tú; literally "Christ believers". Although its lineage in China is not as ancient as the institutional religions of Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism, and the social system and ideology of Confucianism, Christianity has existed in China since at least the seventh century and has gained influence over the past 200 years.
The growth has been particularly significant since the loosening of restrictions on religion by the People's Republic since the economic reform in the late 1970s. Religious practices are still often tightly controlled by government authorities. Chinese over age 18 in the PRC are permitted to be involved with officially sanctioned Christian meetings through the "China Christian Council", "Three-Self Patriotic Movement" or the "Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association". Many Chinese Christians also meet in "unregistered" house church meetings. Reports of sporadic persecution against such Christians in Mainland China have caused concern among outside observers. Today, the Chinese government acknowledges 14 million Christians in China, but it is believed that there are an additional 70 million not included in that figure.
There are also many New religious movements in China which refer to themselves as Christianity, such as Mentuhui and Beili Wang, whose doctrines are derived from the Bible combined with Chinese folk religion. Their leaders often claim to be the new Savior. In the mid-1990s, Chinese government started to monitor these new religious movements, mostly citing them as cults and banning them officially, so their activities soon turned underground. A few religious leaders have moved overseas to continue preaching, such as in Eastern Lightning.
There are various terms used for God in the Chinese language, the most prevalent being Shangdi (上帝, literally, "Emperor (Sovereign) Above"), used commonly by Protestants and also by non-Christians, and Tianzhu (天主, literally, "Lord of Heaven"), which is most commonly favored by Catholics. Although strictly speaking 'Shen' (神) is a more amorphous and general term, like "god," "theos" or "kami," it is also widely used by Chinese Protestants. Historically, Christians have also adopted a variety of terms from the Chinese classics as referents to God, for example Ruler (主宰) and Creator (造物主)
While Christianity is referred to as 基督教 (Christ religion), the modern Chinese language typically divides Christians into three groups: believers of Protestantism Xin jiaotu (新教徒, literally "new religion followers"), believers of Catholicism Tianzhu jiaotu (天主教徒, Lord of Heaven religion followers), and believers of Orthodox Dongzheng jiaotu (東正教徒, Eastern Orthodox religion followers, but more correctly "zhengjiaotu" 正教徒, because there is only one Chinese term for both Eastern and Oriental which is "dong" 東 and simply means the east. The latter term is more correct also because Eastern Orthodox churches are not in communion with and thus differ from the Oriental Orthodox churches.)
Pre-modern history 
Earliest documented period 
The first documented case of Christianity entering China was in the 7th century, which is known from the Nestorian Stele, a stone tablet created in the 8th century. It records that Christians reached the Tang dynasty capital Xian in 635 and were allowed to establish places of worship and to propagate their faith. The leader of the Christian travelers was Alopen.
Some modern scholars argue whether Nestorianism is the proper term for the Christianity that was practiced in China, since it did not adhere to what was preached by Nestorius, and are instead preferring to refer to it as "Church of the East", a term which encompasses the various forms of early Christianity in Asia.
In 845, during a time of great political and economic unrest, Emperor Wuzong decreed that Buddhism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism be banned, and their very considerable assets forfeited to the state.
In 986 a monk reported to the Patriarch of the East:
"Christianity is extinct in China; the native Christians have perished in one way or another; the church has been destroyed and there is only one Christian left in the land."
Medieval period 
The 13th century saw the Mongol-established Yuan Dynasty in China. Christianity was a major influence in the Mongol Empire, as several Mongol tribes were primarily Nestorian Christian, and many of the wives of Genghis Khan's descendants were strongly Christian. Contacts with Western Christianity also came in this time period, via envoys from the Papacy to the Mongol capital in Khanbaliq (Beijing).
Nestorianism was well established in China, as is attested by the monks Rabban Bar Sauma and Rabban Marcos, both of whom made a famous pilgrimage to the West, visiting many Nestorian communities along the way. Marcos was elected as Patriarch of the Church of the East, and Bar Sauma went as far as visiting the courts of Europe in 1287-1288, where he told Western monarchs about Christianity among the Mongols.
In 1289, Franciscan friars from Europe initiated mission work in China. For about a century they worked in parallel with the Nestorian Christians. The Franciscan mission collapsed in 1368, as the Ming Dynasty set out to eject all foreign influences.
The Chinese called Muslims, Jews, and Christians in ancient times by the same name, "Hui Hui" (Hwuy-hwuy). Crossworshipers (Christians) were called "Hwuy who abstain from animals without the cloven foot", Muslims were called "Hwuy who abstain from pork", Jews were called "Hwuy who extract the sinews". Hwuy-tsze (Hui zi) or Hwuy-hwuy (Hui Hui) is presently used almost exclusively for Muslims, but Jews were still called Lan Maou Hwuy tsze (Lan mao Hui zi) which means "Blue cap Hui zi". At Kaifeng, Jews were called "Teaou kin keaou "extract sinew religion". Jews and Muslims in China shared the same name for synagogue and mosque, which were both called "Tsing-chin sze" (Qingzhen si) "Temple of Purity and Truth", the name dated to the thirteenth century. The synagogue and mosques were also known as Le-pae sze (Libai si). A tablet indicated that Judaism was once known as "Yih-tsze-lo-nee-keaou" (israelitish religion) and synagogues known as Yih-tsze lo née leen (Israelitish Temple), but it faded out of use.
It was also reported that competition with the Roman Catholic Church and Islam were also factors in causing Nestorian Christianity to disappear in China, with "controversies with the emissaries of.... Rome, and the "progress of Mohammedanism, sapped the foundations of their ancient churches." The Roman Catholics also considered the Nestorians as heretical
The Ming dynasty decreed that Manichaeism and Christianity were illegal and heterodox, to be wiped out from China, while Islam and Judaism were legal and fit Confucian ideology. Buddhist Sects like White Lotus were also banned by the Ming.
By the 16th century, there is no reliable information about any practicing Christians remaining in China. Fairly soon after the establishment of the direct European maritime contact with China (1513), and the creation of the Society of Jesus (1540), at least some Chinese become involved with the Jesuit effort. As early as 1546, two Chinese boys became enrolled into the Jesuits' St. Paul's College in Goa, the capital of Portuguese India. It is one of these two Christian Chinese, known as Antonio, who accompanied St. Francis Xavier, a co-founder of the Society of Jesus, when he decided to start missionary work in China. However, Xavier was not able to find a way to enter the Chinese mainland, and died in 1552 on Shangchuan island off the coast of Guangdong.
It was the new regional manager ("Visitor") of the order, Alessandro Valignano, who, on his visit to Macau in 1578-1579 realized that Jesuits weren't going to get far in China without a sound grounding in the language and culture of the country. He founded St. Paul Jesuit College (Macau) and requested the Order's superiors in Goa to send a suitably talented person to Macau to start the study of Chinese.
In 1582, Jesuits once again initiated mission work in China, introducing Western science, mathematics, and astronomy. One of these missionaries was Matteo Ricci.
In the early 18th century, the Chinese Rites controversy, a dispute within the Roman Catholic Church, arose over whether Chinese folk religion rituals and offerings to their ancestors constituted idolatry. The Pope ultimately ruled against tolerating the continuation of these practices among Chinese Roman Catholic converts. Prior to this, the Jesuits had enjoyed considerable influence at court, but with the issuing of the papal bull, the emperor circulated edicts banning Christianity. The Catholic Church did not reverse this stance until 1939, after further investigation and a clarified ruling by Pope Pius XII.
17th to 18th centuries 
Further waves of missionaries came to China in the Qing (or Manchu) dynasty (1644–1911) as a result of contact with foreign powers. Russian Orthodoxy was introduced in 1715 and Protestants began entering China in 1807.
The Qing dynasty Yongzheng emperor was firmly against Christian converts among his own Manchu people. He warned them that the Manchus must follow only the Manchu way of worshipping Heaven since different peoples worshipped Heaven differently. Yongzheng stated: "The Lord of Heaven is Heaven itself. . . . In the empire we have a temple for honoring Heaven and sacrificing to Him. We Manchus have Tiao Tchin. The first day of every year we burn incense and paper to honor Heaven. We Manchus have our own particular rites for honoring Heaven; the Mongols, Chinese, Russians, and Europeans also have their own particular rites for honoring Heaven. I have never said that he [Urcen, a son of Sun] could not honor heaven but that everyone has his way of doing it. As a Manchu, Urcen should do it like us."
Modern age 
Missionary expansion (1807–1900) 
140 years of missionary seed-sowing began with Robert Morrison, regarded among Protestants as being the first Christian missionary to China, arriving in Macau on 4 September 1807. Morrison produced a Chinese translation of the Bible. He also compiled a Chinese dictionary for the use of Westerners. The Bible translation took twelve years and the compilation of the dictionary, sixteen years.
Under the "fundamental laws" of China, one section is titled "Wizards, Witches, and all Superstitions, prohibited." The Jiaqing Emperor in 1814 A.D. added a sixth clause in this section with reference to Christianity. It was modified in 1821 and printed in 1826 by the Daoguang Emperor. It sentenced Europeans to death for spreading Christianity among Han Chinese and Manchus (tartars). Christians who would not repent their conversion were sent to Muslim cities in Xinjiang, to be given as slaves to Muslim leaders and beys.
The clause stated: "People of the Western Ocean, [Europeans or Portuguese,] should they propagate in the country the religion of heaven's Lord, [name given to Christianity by the Romanists,] or clandestinely print books, or collect congregations to be preached to, and thereby deceive many people, or should any Tartars or Chinese, in their turn, propagate the doctrines and clandestinely give names, (as in baptism,) inflaming and misleading many, if proved by authentic testimony, the head or leader shall be sentenced to immediate death by strangulations : he who propagates the religion, inflaming and deceiving the people, if the number be not large, and no names be given, shall be sentenced to strangulation after a period of imprisonment. Those who are merely hearers or followers of the doctrine, if they will not repent and recant, shall be transported to the Mohammedan cities (in Turkistan) and given to be slaves to the beys and other powerful Mohammedans who are able to coerce them. . . . All civil and military officers who may fail to detect Europeans clandestinely residing in the country within their jurisdiction, and propagating their religion, thereby deceiving the multitude, shall be delivered over to the Supreme Board and be subjected to a court of inquiry."
Some hoped that the Chinese government would discriminate between Protestantism and the Catholic Church, since the law was directed at Rome, but after Protestant missionaries in 1835-6 gave Christian books to Chinese, the Daoguang Emperor demanded to know who were the "traitorous natives in "Canton who had supplied them with books." The foreign missionaries were strangled or expelled by the Chinese.
Ying-ho, Commander in Chief of the National Infantry, kneels to present to his majesty, the particulars of a ciise, on which he requests the Emperor's decision. The metropolis which lies immediately below the wheels of the Imperial car, being a most important region, should at all times be searched with tiie greatest strictness. I, your majesty's slave, and those associated with ine, therefore gave the most positive orders to the officers and men under the several Tartar banners, to make a very full and careful search in all those districts which pertain to them; and not to allow any person, whose circumstances and character was not perfectly plain, to lurk about. In consequence of this order, a scout, named Toomingleang found out a culprit of suspicious appearances called CMnleenching. It was discovered that this man practised the religion of the western ocean, (i. e. Europe,) and therefore he, and three others of the same religion, were seized, together with a cross, &c. which were brought before us. We, yonr Majesty's slaves, subjected them to a strict examination. Chinleenching gave the following account of himself. "I am a native of the provinoe Ganhwuy, and am now in my 4tst year. In the third year of Kea-king, (22 years ago,) I came to Peking, and lived behind the western four faced turret, on the bank, getting a livelihood by carrying burdens and shaving heads; or by being a travelling barber. I now live in a barber's shop, situated in Paoutize street; his name is Ching Kivei Knng. "During the 1st moon of the 11th year (of the late Emperor, fourteen years ago) an acquaintance, whom I had known some time, whose name was Ho, induced me to enter with him the European religion; and I then went to the Church and read prayers. In the 6th or 7th moon of that year, the European church was declared illegal, and put a stop to; and officers of government watched it, and would not let me enter; I therefore remained in the shop and read prayers. The other three persons connected with the shop, are all of the European religion. Wang-ke^o the father of Wangszevdh, came to the shop to procure hair, which was given him, and he carried it to the Foitching gate of the city. I went after him, but could not find him; and waiting till it was very late I could not get back into the city. I therefore sat down on the west side, and was there till the fourth watch, when I was seized by people connected with government; and when 1 confessed that I was of the European religion, they carried me to the shop, and apprehended the three other men, anil seized a cross, and a eatechism called yaou le wan ta, and finally they brought us all here. It was I who induced Wtmgkew to enter the European religion. The man called Ho, who induced me to adopt that religion, died long since. I real, ly have no desire to quit that religion; but only beg for mercy." Two of the other men, it was found on examination, belonged also to Gan-hwuy province, aid they received their religion from their fathers. Wangszeirih belongs to Peking, and he followed his lather Wangke-w in the profession of the European religion. They all declared they did not desire to quit the religion; but Wangkew, when examined, said he had already forsaken it. Now, the European religion is by law most rigorously forbidden; yet here, Chinleenching has audaciously presumed to keep by him a cross and a catechism; and to read prayers with these three other men: which shews a decided disregard of the laws. We apprehend that this culprit may have propagated the religion and deceived the multitude: or perhaps done something else which is criminal; it is therefore incumbent on us to lay these circumstances before your majesty, and request your will, commanding, that all these four culprits, the cross and the eatechism be together delivered to the penal tribunal, and that the men be then subjected to a severe trial, and have their sentence determined. Reply, in the Emperor's name—"Your Report is recorded and announced."
The Missionary herald, Volume 17 then wrote the following analysis of the letter-
The phrase employed, in the above paper, for the Christum religion, or the religion of Rome, viz. Se-yang keaoxi, is one which has been of late adopted by the enemies of that religion in China, instead of the phrase employed by the Catholic Missionaries, viz. Teenchoo Anion-, which means the Religion of heaven's Lord, a designation which imports great dignity; and, even to a Chinese reader, appears venerable. It would seem that the Tartar rulers of China dread the introduction of what they choose to call (tic "European religion:" not because it differs from the ancient usages of China, nor yet because they think it false, but lest it should he connected with European politics and governments, in such a way as to affect their own domination over the Chinese. No form of Christianity is more dissimilar to the ancient opinions of China, than Buddhism oHcidia, the Tartar Shamanism, and the religion of the "yellow cap," i. e. the Thibeliau Lamanism. The shaved head, of which the above statement reminds one, and the long tail of modern times in China, are all anti-Chinese, unknown to their forefathers, and imposed on them by their Tartar conquerors on pain of death; which alternative was preferred by many of the old sons of Han, the dynasty in which the Chinese glory, and from which they take their national name. It would seem that the Tartar rulers of China dread the introduction of what they choose to call (tic "European religion:" not because it differs from the ancient usages of China, nor yet because they think it false, but lest it should he connected with European politics and governments, in such a way as to affect their own domination over the Chinese. No form of Christianity is more dissimilar to the ancient opinions of China, than Buddhism oHcidia, the Tartar Shamanism, and the religion of the "yellow cap," i. e. the Thibeliau Lamanism. If the writer of this is not mistaken, Ying-ho, the commander-in-chief has long manifested himself an officious enemy of the Christians; and, if he has not some other sinister end, )hfi bringing forward this (even according to his own shewing,) trivial case, indicates how anxious he is, that Taou-kwang, the new Emperor, should confirm the edicts of his father. The polytheism of ancient China—the worship of hills, rivers, deceased men and women, &c; the worship of living human beings; Buddhism, Shamanism, and Lamanism, as well as atheism, are all tolerated in China. The Monotheism of the Arabian Prophet, is also tolerated; why then their hatred to the name of Jesus!
The pace of missionary activity increased considerably after the First Opium War in 1842. Christian missionaries and their schools, under the protection of the Western powers, went on to play a major role in the Westernization of China in the 19th and 20th centuries.
During the 1840s, Western missionaries spread Christianity rapidly through the coastal cities that were open to foreign trade; the bloody Taiping Rebellion was connected in its origins to the influence of some missionaries on the leader Hong Xiuquan, who has since been hailed as a heretic by most Christian groups, but as a proto-communist peasant militant by the Chinese Communist Party. The Taiping Rebellion was a large-scale revolt against the authority and forces of the Qing Government. It was conducted from 1850 to 1864 by an army and civil administration led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan. He established the "Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace" with the capital Nanjing and attained control of significant parts of southern China, at its height ruling over about 30 million people. The theocratic and militaristic regime instituted several social reforms, including strict separation of the sexes, abolition of foot binding, land socialization, suppression of private trade, and the replacement of Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion by a form of Christianity, holding that Hong Xiuquan was the younger brother of Jesus Christ. The Taiping rebellion was eventually put down by the Qing army aided by French and British forces. With an estimated death toll of between 20 and 30 million due to warfare and resulting starvation, this civil war ranks among history's deadliest conflicts. Mao Zedong viewed the Taiping as early heroic revolutionaries against a corrupt feudal system.
Christians in China established the first modern clinics and hospitals, and provided the first modern training for nurses. Both Roman Catholics and Protestants founded numerous educational institutions in China from the primary to the university level. Some of the most prominent Chinese universities began as religious-founded institutions. Missionaries worked to abolish practices such as foot binding, and the unjust treatment of maidservants, as well as launching charitable work and distributing food to the poor. They also opposed the opium trade and brought treatment to many who were addicted. Some of the early leaders of the Chinese Republic, such as Sun Yat-sen were converts to Christianity and were influenced by its teachings.
By the early 1860s the Taiping movement was almost extinct, Protestant missions at the time were confined to five coastal cities. By the end of the century, however, the picture had vastly changed. Scores of new missionary societies had been organized, and several thousand missionaries were working in all parts of China. This transformation can be traced to the Unequal Treaties which forced the Chinese government to admit Western missionaries into the interior of the country, the excitement caused by the 1859 Awakening in Britain and the example of J. Hudson Taylor (1832–1905). Taylor (Plymouth Brethren (Open Brethren)) arrived in China in 1854. Historian Kenneth Scott Latourette wrote that "Hudson Taylor was, ...one of the greatest missionaries of all time, and ... one of the four or five most influential foreigners who came to China in the nineteenth century for any purpose...". The China Inland Mission was the largest mission agency in China and it is estimated that Taylor was responsible for more people being converted to Christianity than at any other time since Paul the Apostle brought Christian teaching to Europe. Out of the 8,500 Protestant missionaries that were at one time at work in China, 1000 of them were from the CIM. It was Dixon Edward Hoste, the successor to Hudson Taylor, who originally expressed the self-governing principles of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, at the time he was articulating the goal of the China Inland Mission to establish an indigenous Chinese church that was free from foreign control.
It was not always this way. Back in the era of the emperors, there were charitable organizations for virtually every social service: burial of the dead, care of orphans, provision of food for the hungry. The wealthiest in every community—typically, the merchants—were expected to give food, medicine, clothing, and even cash to those in need. According to Caroline Reeves, a historian at Emmanuel College in Boston, that began to change with the arrival of American missionaries in the late 19th century. "One of the reasons they gave for being there was to help the poor Chinese," she says. "Because of that need to justify their existence in China, they downplayed China's own charity. That attitude, that denial of reality, is still very strong today."
By 1865 when the China Inland Mission began, there were already thirty different Protestant groups at work in China, however the diversity of denominations represented did not equate to more missionaries on the field. In the seven provinces in which Protestant missionaries had already been working, there were an estimated 204 million people with only 91 workers, while there were eleven other provinces in inland China with a population estimated at 197 million, for whom absolutely nothing had been attempted. Besides the London Missionary Society, and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, there were missionaries affiliated with Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, and Wesleyans. Most missionaries came from England, the United States, Sweden, France, Germany, Switzerland, or the Netherlands.
In addition to the publication and distribution of Christian literature and Bibles (see:Chinese Bible Translations), the Protestant Christian missionary movement in China furthered the dispersion of knowledge with other printed works of history and science. As the missionaries went to work among the Chinese, they established and developed schools and introduced the latest techniques in medicine (see:Medical missions in China). The mission schools were viewed with some suspicion by the traditional Chinese teachers, but they differed from the norm by offering a basic education to poor Chinese, both boys and girls, who had no hope of learning at a school before the days of the Chinese Republic.
The Boxer Uprising was in part a reaction against Christianity in China. Christianity was prevalent among bandits in Shandong, China. In 1895, the Manchu Yuxian, a magistrate in the province, acquired the help of the Big Swords Society in fighting against Bandits. The Big Swords practiced heterodox practices, however, they were not bandits and were not seen as bandits by Chinese authorities. The Big Swords relentlessly crushed the bandits, but the bandits converted to Catholic Christianity, because it made them legally immune to prosecution and under the protection of the foreigners. The Big Swords proceeded to attack the bandit Catholic churches and burn them. Yuxian only executed several Big Sword leaders, but did not punish anyone else. More secret societies started emerging after this.
In Pingyuan, the site of another insurrection and major religious disputes, the county magistrate noted that Chinese converts to Christianity were taking advantage of their bishop's power to file false lawsuits which, upon investigation, were found groundless.
Popularity and indigenous growth (1900–1925) 
The Qing dynasty Imperial government permitted Christian missionaries to enter and proselytize in Tibetan lands, which weakened the control of the Tibetan Buddhist Lamas, who refused to give allegiance to the Chinese. The Tibetan Lamas were alarmed and jealous of Catholic missionaries converting natives to Roman Catholicism. During the 1905 Tibetan Rebellion the Tibetan Buddhist Gelug Yellow Hat sect led a Tibetan revolt, with Tibetan tribesmen being led by Lamas to kill and attack Chinese officials, western Christian missionaries and native Christian converts, the revolt was aimed at expelling Christians and overthrowing Chinese rule. The Lamas responded to the Christian missionaries by massacring the missionaries and native converts to Christianity. The Lamas besieged Bat'ang, burning down the mission chapel, and killing two foreign missionaries, Père Mussot and Père Soulié. The Chinese Amban's Yamen was surrounded, the Chinese General, Wu Yi-chung, was shot dead in the Yamen by the Lama's forces. The Chinese Amban Feng and Commandant in Chief Li Chia-jui managed to escape by scattering Rupees (money) behind them, which the Tibetans proceeded to try to pick up. The Ambans reached Commandant Lo's place, but the 100 Tibetan troops serving under the Amban, armed with modern weaponry, mutinied when news of the revolt reached them. The Tibetan Lamas and their Tibetan followers besieged the Chinese Commandant Lo's palace along with local Christian converts. In the palace, they killed all Christian converts, both Chinese and Tibetan.
During the Boxer Rebellion (1899–1901), Christian missionaries and their families (including children) suffered significant loss of lives. Missionaries and their Chinese converts were massacred throughout northern China by Boxers, government troops and authorities.
Liang Fa (梁發, Leung Fat in Cantonese) worked in a printing company in Guangzhou in 1810 and came to know Robert Morrison (missionary) (1782–1834, a missionary sent by the London Missionary Society in Britain and the first Christian Protestant missionary in China), who translated the Bible to Chinese and needed printing of the translation. When William Milne (missionary) (1785–1822, another missionary sent by the London Missionary Society) arrived at Guangzhou in 1813 and worked with Morrison on translation of the Bible, he also came to know Liang Fa. Liang was baptized by Milne in 1816. In 1821, Liang was ordained by Morrison, thus becoming a missionary of the London Missionary Society and the first Chinese Protestant minister and evangelist.
Western Medicine was introduced to China in the 19th Century, mainly by medical missionaries sent from various Christian mission organizations, such as the London Missionary Society (Britain), the Methodist Church (Britain) and the Presbyterian Church (USA). Benjamin Hobson (1816–1873), a medical missionary sent by the London Missionary Society in 1839, set up a highly successful Wai Ai Clinic (惠愛醫館)  in Guangzhou, China. Hok Chau 周學 (also known as Lai-Tong Chau, 周勵堂) and others worked there. Due to the ban on evangelism by the Qing (清) Chinese Government up to 1845, there was persecution. Liang Fa was thus given a beating of 30 strikes, as ordered by the court. Chau’s donation helped support the gospel work of the London Missionary Society in Guangzhou. Rev. Liang (age 63) baptized Chau (quite young) in 1852. The Methodist Church based in England sent missionary George Piercy  to China. In 1851, Piercy went to Guangzhou (Canton), where he worked in a trading company. In 1853, he started a church in Guangzhou. In 1877, Chau was ordained by the Methodist Church, where he pastored for 39 years.
The Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese (香港華人西醫書院) was founded in 1887 by the London Missionary Society, with its first graduate (in 1892) being Sun Yat-sen (孫中山). Sun later led the Chinese Revolution (1911), which changed China from an empire to a republic. The Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese was the forerunner of the School of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong, which started in 1911.
Due to the social custom that men and women should not be near to one another, the women of China were reluctant to be treated by male doctors of Western Medicine. This resulted in a tremendous need for female doctors of Western Medicine in China. Thus, female medical missionary Dr. Mary H. Fulton (1854–1927)  was sent by the Foreign Missions Board of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to found the first medical college for women in China. Known as the Hackett Medical College for Women (夏葛女子醫學院), this College was located in Guangzhou, China, and was enabled by a large donation from Mr. Edward A.K. Hackett (1851–1916) of Indiana, USA. The College was dedicated in 1902 and offered a four-year curriculum. By 1915, there were more than 60 students, mostly in residence. Most students became Christians, due to the influence of Dr. Fulton. The College was officially recognized, with its diplomas marked with the official stamp of the Guangdong provincial government. The College was aimed at the spreading of Christianity and modern medicine and the elevation of Chinese women's social status. The David Gregg Hospital for Women and Children (also known as Yuji Hospital 柔濟醫院)  was affiliated with this College. The graduates of this College included CHAU Lee-sun (周理信, 1890–1979) and WONG Yuen-hing (黃婉卿), both of whom graduated in the late 1910s  and then practiced medicine in the hospitals in Guangdong province.
Indigenous Christian evangelistic work started in China in the late 1800s. This work involved both the clergy and those that were not in the clergy. Dr. Man-Kai Wan, 尹文階 (1869–1927) was one of the first Chinese doctors of Western medicine in Hong Kong, the inaugural Chairman of the Hong Kong Chinese Medical Association 香 港 中 華 醫 學 會 (1920–1922, forerunner of Hong Kong Medical Association), and a secondary school classmate of Sun Yat-Sen (孫中山, 1866–1925, the leader of Kuomintang 中國國民黨, Chinese Nationalist Party) in The Government Central College (中央書院, currently known as Queen's College, Hong Kong皇仁書院) in Hong Kong. Wan and Sun graduated from secondary school together in 1886. Dr. Wan was also the Chairman of the Board of a Christian newspaper called “Great Light Newspaper” (大光報) that was distributed in Hong Kong and China. Dr. Sun, a Christian (baptized in Hong Kong by an American missionary of the Congregational Church of the United States), had written for this newspaper. The father-in-law of Dr. Wan was Fung-Chi Au (區鳳墀, 1847–1914), who was Sun’s teacher of Chinese literature, Secretary of the Hong Kong Department of Chinese Affairs (香港華民政務司署總書記), the manager of Kwong Wah Hospital (廣華醫院) for its 1911 opening, and an Elder of To Tsai Church (道濟會堂), which was founded by the London Missionary Society in 1888 and located at 75 Hollywood Road, Mid-levels (半山區), Hong Kong. Sun attended this church while he studied Medicine. Due to its growth, this church erected a large building in 1926 and was renamed Hop Yat Church (合一堂).
As a result of being separated due to World War II, Christian churches and organizations had their first experience with autonomy from the Western-guided structures of the missionary church organizations. Some scholars suggest this helped lay the foundation for the independent denominations and churches of the post-war period and the eventual development of the Three-Self Church and the CCPA. After the end of the war, the Chinese Civil War began in earnest, which had an effect on the rebuilding and development of the churches after the close of Japanese occupation.
Communist rule 
The People's Republic of China was established in October 1949 by the Communist Party of China, led by Mao Zedong. Under Communist ideology, religion was discouraged by the state and Christian Missionaries left the country in what was described by Phyllis Thompson of the China Inland Mission as a "reluctant exodus", leaving the indigenous churches to do their own administration, support, and propagation of the faith. The Chinese Protestant church entered the communist era having made significant progress toward self-support and self-government. Though Chinese rulers had traditionally sought to regulate organized religion and the CPC would continue the practice, Chinese Christians had gained experience in the art of accommodation in order to protect its members.
From 1966 to 1976 during the Cultural Revolution, the expression of religious life in China was effectively banned, including even the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. The growth of the Chinese house church movement during this period was a result of all Chinese Christian worship being driven underground for fear of persecution. To counter this growing trend of "unregistered meetings", in 1979 the government officially restored the TSPM after thirteen years of non-existence, and in 1980 the CCC was formed.
In 1993 there were 7 million members of the TSPM with 11 million affiliated, as opposed to an estimated 18 million and 47 million "unregistered" Protestant Christians respectively. According to a survey done by China Partner (Founder Werner Burklin), there are now between 39-41 million Protestant Christians in China. The survey was done with 7.400 individuals in 2007-08 in all 31 provinces, municipalites and autonomous regions except Tibet. Another survey done with 4.500 individuals by the East China Normal University in Shanghai came to the same result.
Persecution of Christians in China has been sporadic. The most severe times were during the Cultural Revolution. Believers were arrested and imprisoned and sometimes tortured for their faith. Bibles were destroyed, churches and homes were looted, and Christians were subjected to humiliation. Several thousand Christians were known to have been imprisoned between 1983-1993. In 1992 the government began a campaign to shut down all of the unregistered meetings. However, government implementation of restrictions since then has varied widely between regions of China and in many areas there is greater religious liberty. Independent churches and evangelical denominations have broadened the appeal of Protestantism, especially in rural China. Although outside observers thought that the Cultural Revolution had ended Christianity in China, Christianity in all its variety had taken root and possessed the strength to survive decades of hostility and persecution.
Contemporary PRC 
Since 1949, indigenous Chinese Christianity has been growing at a rate unparalleled in history. Nicholas D. Kristof, a columnist of the New York Times wrote on June 25, 2006, "Although China bans foreign missionaries and sometimes harasses and imprisons Christians, especially in rural areas, Christianity is booming in China."  Most of the growth has taken place in the unofficial Chinese house church movement. Christianity also follows Chinese migration. After 2000, the center of gravity has shifted from the countryside to the cities, spreading Christianity among intellectuals and associating it with modernity, business and science. In 1800 there were 250,000 baptized Roman Catholics, but no known Protestant believers out of an estimated 362 million Chinese. By 1949, out of an estimated population of 450 million, there were just over 500,000 baptized Protestant Christians.
The current number of Christians in China is disputed. The most recent official census enumerated 4 million Roman Catholics and 10 million Protestants. However, independent estimates have ranged from 40 million to 100 million Christians. According to the China Aid Association, State Administration for Religious Affairs Director Ye Xiaowen reported to audiences at Beijing University and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences that the number of Christians in China had risen to 130 million by the end of 2006, including 20 million Catholics. This has been officially denied by the Foreign Ministry. According to a survey done by China Partner and East China Normal University in Shanghai, there are now 39 to 41 million Protestant Christians in China. These include Christians in registered and unregistered churches. All other numbers previously mentioned were rough estimates that never have been substantiated. The survey was done with 7,400 individuals in 2007-08 by China Partner in all 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. Another survey done with 4,500 individuals by East China Normal University in Shanghai reveals up to 40 million. Other studies have suggested that there are roughly 54 million Christians in China, of which 39 million are Protestants and 14 million are Roman Catholics; these are seen as the most common and reliable figures.
Today, the Chinese language typically divides Christians into two groups, members of Jidu jiao (literally, Christianity), Protestantism, and members of Tianzhu jiao (literally "Lord of Heaven" religion), Catholicism (see Protestantism in China and Catholicism in China.)
Official organizations 
Since loosening of restrictions on religion after the 1970s, Christianity has grown significantly within the People's Republic. It is still, however, tightly controlled by government authorities. The Three-Self Patriotic Movement, China Christian Council (Protestant) and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, which has disavowed the Pope and is considered schismatic by other Roman Catholics, have affiliations with the government and must follow the regulations imposed upon them.
House churches 
Many Christians choose however to meet independently of these organizations, typically in house churches. These fellowships are not officially registered and are seen as illegal entities that are persecuted heavily, and are thus sometimes called "underground churches". These Christians have been persecuted throughout the 20th century, especially during the Cultural Revolution, and there remains some official harassment in the form of arrests and interrogations of Chinese Christians. At the same time, there has been increasing tolerance of house churches since the late 1970s.
Orthodox Christianity 
There are a small number of adherents of Russian Orthodoxy in northern China, predominantly in Harbin. The first mission was undertaken by Russians in the 17th century. Orthodox Christianity is also practiced by the small Russian ethnic minority in China. The Church operates relatively freely in Hong Kong (where the Ecumenical Patriarch has sent a metropolitan, Bishop Nikitas and the Russian Orthodox parish of St Peter and St Paul resumed its operation) and Taiwan (where archimandrite Jonah George Mourtos leads a mission church).
Religious practice 
Officials from the Three-Self Patriotic Movement/China Christian Council (TSPM/CCC), the state-approved Protestant religious organization, estimated that at least twenty million citizens worship in official churches. Government officials stated that there are more than 50,000 registered TSPM churches and 18 TSPM theological schools. The Pew Research Center estimates that between 50 million and 70 million Christians practice without state sanction. The World Christian Database estimates that there are more than 300 unofficial house church networks.
The Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) reports that 5.3 million persons worship in its churches and it is estimated that there are an additional 12 million or more persons who worship in unregistered Catholic churches that do not affiliate with the CPA. According to official sources, the government-sanctioned CPA has more than 70 bishops, nearly 3,000 priests and nuns, 6,000 churches and meeting places, and 12 seminaries. There are thought to be approximately 40 bishops operating "underground," some of whom are in prison or under house arrest. During the reporting period, at least three bishops were ordained with papal approval. In September 2007 the official media reported that Liu Bainian, CPA vice president, stated that the young bishops were to be selected to serve dioceses without bishops and to replace older bishops. Of the 97 dioceses in the country, 40 reportedly did not have an acting bishop in 2007, and more than 30 bishops were over 80 years of age.
On August 30, 2010, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints revealed its on-going efforts to negotiate with the Chinese authorities to regularize its activities in China. The LDS Church has had expatriate members worshiping in China for a few decades previous to this, but with many restrictions.
Religious restrictions 
The Government restricts legal religious practice to government-sanctioned organizations and registered religious groups and places of worship, through the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, and seeks to control the growth and scope of the activity of both registered and unregistered religious groups, including "house churches." Government authorities limit proselytism, particularly by foreigners and unregistered religious groups, but permit proselytism in state-approved religious venues and private settings.
In 2008, the Government's repression of religious freedom intensified in some areas. Unregistered Protestant religious groups in Beijing reported intensified harassment from government authorities in the lead up to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Media and China-based sources reported that municipal authorities in Beijing closed some house churches or asked them to stop meeting during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. During the reporting period, officials detained and interrogated several foreigners about their religious activities and in several cases alleged that the foreigners had engaged in "illegal religious activities" and cancelled their visas. Media reported that the total number of expatriates expelled by the Government due to concerns about their religious activities exceeded one hundred.
"Underground" Roman Catholic clergy faced repression, in large part due to their avowed loyalty to the Vatican, which the Government accused of interfering in the country's internal affairs. The Government continued to repress groups that it designated as "cults," which included several Christian groups.
Demographics and geography 
It is not known exactly how many Chinese Christians there are. Estimates of Christians in China are difficult to obtain because of the numbers of Christians unwilling to reveal their beliefs, the hostility of the national government towards some Christian sects, and difficulties in obtaining accurate statistics on house churches. It is clear that the numbers are growing.
- In 2000, the People's Republic of China government census enumerated 4 million Chinese Catholics and 10 million Protestants. The Chinese government once stated that only 1% (13 million)  of the population is Christian while the Chinese Embassy has stated that 10 Million (0.75%) are Christian.
- The official figure in 2002, which consists of members from official Protestant churches, is about 15 million, while some estimates on members of Chinese house churches vary from 50 million to 100 million.
- In 2006 it was stated that there were 4 million members of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and an estimated 12 million members of the underground Roman Catholic Church in China as of 2006. Kiven Choy stated, in a Chinese weekly newspaper in Hong Kong, that the correct number of Protestants in China should be at around 20 million, while Time Magazine reported 65 million in 2006.
- In October 2007 two surveys were conducted to estimate the number of Christians in China. One poll was held by Protestant missionary Werner Burklin, the other one by Liu Zhongyu from East China Normal University in Shanghai. The surveys were conducted independently and during different periods, but they reached the same results. According to these studies, there were roughly 54 million Christians in China, of whom 39 million were Protestants and 14 million were Catholics, according to the most common and reliable figure among others.
- According to John Micklethwait "a conservative guess" (as at the end of 2008) "is that there are at least 65 million Protestants in China and 12 million Catholics"
- In a December 2011 report, The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life estimated that there are over 67 million Christians in China.
The numbers of Chinese Christians at churches on a Sunday now outnumber those in the whole of Europe according to some figures. While official government figures put the number at 25 million (18 million Protestants and six million Catholics), independent estimates of 60 million plus are still viewed as conservative tallies.
Frank Lee, a Chinese academic who has studied the development of so-called house churches in the mainland, projected a respectable 20 million members for 'official' churches (registered with the Three-Self Church), whereas house churches boast 10 million Catholics and up to 70 million Protestants. Meanwhile China Aid, a Christian charity working in China, have given 130 million (including house churches).
China Aid alleged, in time for the Beijing Olympic year, that Ye Xiaowen, the director of the government body which supervises all religions in China, said privately that the figure was indeed as much as 130 million in early 2008. The claim was denied by Mrs. Guo Wei, director of the Foreign Affairs Department in Beijing. Some bloggers had attributed the report to the official Xinhua News Agency, while the news agency denied having reported anything such.
A relatively large proportion of Christians are concentrated in Hebei province, in particular Catholics. Many internationally-reported arrests of Catholic leaders have occurred in that province. Hebei is also home to the town of Donglu, site of an alleged Marian apparition and pilgrimage center. Another major population is Henan (See Christianity in Henan).
Hong Kong 
Catholic missionaries were the first to arrive in Macau. In 1535, Portuguese traders obtained the rights to anchor ships in Macau's harbours and to carry out trading activities, though not the right to stay onshore. Around 1552–1553, they obtained temporary permission to erect storage sheds onshore, in order to dry out goods drenched by sea water; they soon built rudimentary stone houses around the area now called Nam Van. In 1576, Pope Gregory XIII established the Roman Catholic Diocese of Macau. In 1583, the Portuguese in Macau were permitted to form a Senate to handle various issues concerning their social and economic affairs under strict supervision of the Chinese authority, but there was no transfer of sovereignty. Macau prospered as a port but was the target of repeated failed attempts by the Dutch to conquer it in the 17th century.
Autonomous regions 
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region 
Tibet Autonomous Region 
Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region 
Predominantly Muslim, very few Uygur are known to be Christian. In 1904, George Hunter with the CIM opened the first mission station for CIM in Xinjiang. But already in 1883 the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden started mission in the area around Kashgar and built several missionary stations. By the 1930s there existed some churches among this people, but because of violent persecution the churches were destroyed and the believers were scattered.
Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region 
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 
Rapid church growth is reported to have taken place among the Zhuang people in the early 1990s. Though still predominantly Buddhist and animistic, the region of Guangxi was first visited in 1877 by Protestant missionary Edward Fishe of the CIM. He died the same year.
International interest 
In large, international cities such as Beijing, foreign visitors have established Christian church communities which meet in public establishments such as hotels. These churches and fellowships, however, are typically restricted only to holders of non-Chinese passports.
American evangelist Billy Graham visited in China in 1988 with his wife, Ruth, and it was a homecoming for her since she had been born in China to missionary parents, L. Nelson Bell and his wife, Virginia.
Since the 1980s, American officials visiting China have on multiple occasions visited Chinese churches, including President George W. Bush, who attended one of Beijing's five officially-recognized Protestant churches during a November 2005 Asia tour, and the Kuanjie Protestant Church in 2008. During an official visit to Beijing for the Beijing Olympic Games, Australian Prime Minister of Kevin Rudd with his wife Therese attended the Northern Cathedral, Beijing, for Sunday services in August 2008. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended Palm Sunday services in Beijing in 2005.
During the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, three American Christian protesters were deported from China after a demonstration at Tiananmen Square, and eight Dutch Christians were stopped after attempting to sing in chorus. Pope Benedict XVI urged China to be open to Christianity, and said that he hoped the Olympic Games would offer an example of coexistence among people from different countries.
See also 
|Christianity by Country
|Full list •|
- Bibliography of Christianity in China
- Church of the East
- Jesuit China missions
- Xu Guangqi
- Chinese Rites controversy
- Protestant missions in China 1807–1953
- Historical Bibliography of the China Inland Mission
- Christianity in India
- Seventh-day Adventist Church in the People's Republic of China
- Timeline of Christian missions
- Chinese New Hymnal
- Chinese Union Version of the Bible
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- Gulick, Edward V. (1975). Peter Parker and the Opening of China. Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 95, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1975).
- Latourette, Kenneth Scott (1929). A History of Christian Missions in China.
- Spence, Jonathan D. (1991). The Search for modern China. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-30780-8.
- Taylor, James Hudson (1868). China's Spiritual Need and Claims (Third Edition). London: James Nisbet.
- Soong, Irma Tam (1997). Sun Yat-sen's Christian Schooling in Hawai'i. Hawai'i: The Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 13.
- Thompson, Phyllis. The Reluctant Exodus. 1979. Singapore: OMF Books.
- Handbook of Christianity in China, Volume One: 635-1800, (Handbook of Oriental Studies: Section 4 China), Edited by Nicolas Standaert, Brill: Leiden - Boston 2000, 964 pp., ISBN 978-9004114319
- Handbook of Christianity in China. Volume Two: 1800 - present. (Handbook of Oriental Studies: Section 4 China), Edited by R. G. Tiedemann, Brill: Leiden - Boston 2010, 1050 pp., ISBN 978-90-04-11430-2
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Further reading 
|About Christianity in China|
- The Church of the Tang Dynasty, John Foster, SPCK, London, 1939
- The Lost Churches of China, Leonard M. Outerbridge, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1952
- Tsui, Ambrose Pui Ho (1992). The principle of hou: A source for Chinese Christian ethics (M.A. thesis). Wilfrid Laurier University.
- The Story of Mary Liu, Edward Hunter, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1956
- Come Wind, Come Weather, Leslie Lyall, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1956
- Red Sky at Night, Leslie Lyall, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1961
- Christianity in China, George N. Patterson, World Books, London, 1969
- The Cross and the Lotus, Lee Shiu Keung, Christian Study Centre on Chinese Religion and Culture, Hong Kong, 1971
- Decision for China, Paul T. K. Shi, St John's University Press, N.Y., 1971
- The Jesus Family in China, D. Vaughan Rees, Paternoster Press, Exeter, 1973
- Christians and China, V. Hayward, Christian Journals Ltd, Belfast, 1974
- Nathan Sites: An Epic of the East, Sarah Moore Sites, Revell, New York, 1912
- The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, Jonathan D. Spence, New York, 1984
- Jesus in Beijing, David Aikman, Regnery Publishing Inc., Washington D.C., 2003
- China's Christian Millions (New Edition, Fully Revised and Updated) Lambert, Tony (2006)
- Counting Christians in China: a cautionary report.: An article from: International Bulletin of Missionary Research Lambert, Tony(2005)
- The Resurrection of the Chinese Church Lambert, Tony(1994)
- The Believing Heart, C.S. Song, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999.
- Theology from the Womb of Asia, C.S. Song, Maryknoll: Orbis, 1986.
- Tell Us Our Names, C.S. Song, Maryknoll: Orbis, 1984
- Third Eye Theology, C.S. Song, Maryknoll: Orbis, 1979
- What Has Jerusalem to Do With Beijing? K. K. Yeo, Harrisburg: Trinity: 1998.
- William Scott Ament and the Boxer Rebellion: Heroism, Hubris, and the Ideal Missionary, Larry Clinton Thompson, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2009
- Revival in Chinese Church
- "The Church in China". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity
- Timeline of Orthodoxy in China
- Asia Harvest: Map of the Distribution of Christians in China Map by Global Mapping International - retrieved February 9, 2012