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China

China is the world's fourth largest country. For many years it was a leader in the areas of culture, art, and science. However, throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, China faced many challenges such as civil unrest, famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, communism became the new form of government under Mao Zedong. This new system imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost tens of millions of people their lives. In 1978, after Mao Zedong’s death, Deng Xiaoping became China’s leader. He and other leaders made many changes and reforms to China’s economy and by the year 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, the standard of living has improved along with room for personal choice. However, political control remains tight. Since the 1990s, China has grown in global outreach and influence, thus regaining much of its international prominence.

Mao still looms large over China.

China contains close to 500 indigenous ethnic groups. However, these groups have been re-categorized into 55 “nationalities” established by the Chinese government for administrative ease. This country remains officially atheist, and many more follow Taoist or Buddhist teachings.

According to Open Doors research, China (currently ranked 16th), is one of the 50 worst countries in which Christian persecution exists.

In years past, Christians have faced aggressive persecution forcing the Church to move underground. The Church has grown strong due in part to this pressure, which continues today. Cases of arrests, heavy fines, forced closures and destruction of many unregistered house churches have increased in recent years. Perhaps this is due to the growth of the Church being seen as a threat to the present Chinese government’s political control. Today, more Christians are detained in China than in any other country.

Fast facts

Location: East and Southeast Asia. Leader: President Hu Jintao (since 15 March 2003). Population: 1.3+ billion. Primary Religions: China is officially atheist, thus 44 percent of the population is considered non-religious. Daoism (Taoism) follows with 28 percent, Buddhism at 12 percent, and Christian at 7 percent.

Where in the world?

China (shaded above) is located in East and Southeast Asia, and shares borders with Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Vietnam
(The World Factbook)