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ChinaChinese government has always been famous for its monopoly over religion. China is a country with rich religious prophesy. Chinese culture is a unique phenomenon which is famous for combining different kinds of religion, such as mysticism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and others. Chinese culture has its own philosophical system and world overview. From ancient times in China there was created a common background for the development of different religions. Chinese people choose the religion that coincides with their inner feeling and approach to life. It is interesting to note that Buddhism, Hinduism, Christian religion, etc were brought to China from other countries, while the only religion that was developed in China on the basis of ancient mystical practices is Taoism. However, in China does not exist a notion of the “national religion”. No religion is dominating; Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism exist separately but at the same time they all influence Chinese culture and way of thinking. In order to understand how all these religious practices can peacefully co-exist in one country it would be of great use to get general notions about mysticism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. The historical circumstances allowed China to develop different religious practices on its territory which do not only oppress each other but even contribute to the formation and development of the common Chinese philosophical system and culture.
The communist regime has changed many things in the country and religion did not become an exception. New regime made an attempt to control all spheres of life, including religion. “Religious organizations and the Communist Party share a reliance on ideology and organization to operate and survive, making them potential rivals. As a shrewd monopolist of organizational and ideological instruments, the state seeks to reduce the threat posed by religion, adopting differentiated strategies toward them as they revive” (Lai, 57). For the Chinese government the question of religion is very important because it deals with the influence on people and the government of China does not want to share its power and influence with anyone.
Chinese state developed intelligent technology of dealing with different religious groupings. It can tolerate, cooperate with some religious organizations while it also may restrict and suppress others. State policy towards religion is usually determined by the strength, structure and doctrine of the religions organization. The government chooses cooperation with those religious groups which act in accordance with state authority and oppresses all the rest. The main aim of the state is to limit the growth of religious influence in the country. It strictly traces the growth of strong and independent religious groups and makes everything possible to stop the growth of their popularity.
This history of religious oppression in China is longer than the history of the Communist regime in this country. Crackdown on Tibetan Buddhist monasteries is a famous fact of the Chinese history which attracted attention of the entire world. Aggression against religious community of other countries soon became directed against the citizens of China itself. Communist regime and Mao showed very intolerant attitude to all kind of religions but there are those which experienced greater pressure than others. After communists came to power religions rights and freedoms of the Chinese citizens became limited. This became exactly noticeable on the example of Falun Gong religious group and Christian community in China.
During the post-Mao era attitude to religion became more pluralistic. All kinds of religions got more freedom and those ones which experience the biggest pressure also got an opportunity for development. “In the post-Mao decades China has experienced widespread revival of religious faith and practice. This is evident in growing number of new religious sites and an increasing attendance at religious services, as well as the rise of numerous unofficial and unorthodox religions, including Falun Gong” ( Lai 55). Official data states that big part of Chinese population belongs to one of five major world religions. “According to official reports followers of the five religious, namely, Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism totaled 136 millions in 1999, or 11% of the population: (Lai, 55). Despite Chinese authorities were very reluctant to recognize this, but big part of China population belongs to non-orthodox religions.
Scott Lowe, Chinese and International Contexts for the Rise of Falun Gong, Nova Religio April 2003, Vol.
Zhao, Yuezhi, “Falun Gong, Identity, and the
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Xinhua, China Bans Falun Gong, People’s Daily, July 22, 1999
International Religious Freedom Report 2007, US Department of State, Sept 14.