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  • Author: André Laliberté
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: For people reading the mainstream media, the recent travails of the Shouwang Church in Beijing – a Protestant congregation whose followers have been forbidden to worship in public since being evicted from the premises they rented – seem emblematic of a confrontational relationship between religion and state in China today (Jacobs 2011a). This impression appears to be confirmed when we also look at the persecution that adherents to Falungong continue to suffer (Richardson and Edelman 2011) and the difficult relations that Muslims in Xinjiang and Buddhists in Tibet experience. However, this is only one side of the story. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), at least since the administration of Jiang Zemin, has looked with approval at the growth of religion. Party documents have extolled the compatibility between religion and social stability, and the CCP has encouraged the construction or rebuilding of temples all over the country (Ren 2007: 195ff). Intellectuals and local governments are now looking back at China's traditional religions, not long ago dismissed as “superstitions”, as part of a national heritage worthy of preservation. The dramatic expansion of Confucius Institutes all over the world confirms that the party has completely changed its appreciation of traditional culture and religion, now seen as assets (Paradise 2009).
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing