Chinese Culture

Religion

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According to the 2012 Chinese General Social Service (CGSS) 2012 average, 87.4% of Chinese people are non-religious, or instead affiliate with a traditional philosophy, such as Confucianism or Taoism. 18.2% are Buddhists, 5.1% are Christians (a population that is rapidly growing within the country), and 1.8% are Muslim.

The 2011 Australian Census recorded that 63.2% of the China-born population in Australia are unaffiliated with any religion. Among those who are religious, Buddhism (16.2%), Catholic Christianity (3.4%) and a combination of other religions (11.4%) are the major religious affiliations.

The Chinese government promotes atheism but allows those who are religious to practice their faith within certain guidelines. Religious groups may have meetings, produce materials, and worship, however their activities are monitored. Breach of government guidelines can result in imprisonment or further restrictions on the practice of their faith. Foreigners can be charged under the law for distributing religious books and flyers when travelling in China.

It should be noted that traditional Chinese philosophies such as Confucianism are not always considered to be ‘religions’ by Chinese people. They are more commonly perceived as a way of viewing life that can coexist with other religions—such as Buddhism. Most Chinese people (including those who identify as non-religious) have some affiliation or understanding of traditional Chinese philosophies, as the tenets and values of these belief systems still tend to have a strong influence on social behaviours and practices.

Traditional Chinese Philosophies
Confucianism is a guiding philosophy in China that puts emphasis on the importance of healthy human relationships. It promotes the idea that relationships between people are unequal and that everyone should have defined hierarchical roles (for example, ruler and subject, husband and wife, father and son). It teaches that when this natural inequality is accepted and respected, it becomes easier to maintain harmonious, stable relations between individuals and, therefore, in society as a whole.

Taoism
Taoism is a religion of cultivation and can be confusing to comprehend as ‘the Tao’ itself is indescribable and left to one’s own interpretation. It is associated with pantheism, the belief that everything composing reality is divine. Essentially, Taoism is the perception of the universe as a reality in which everything in existence is connected. It emphasises a deep connection with nature and self-development. The Taoist concept most familiar to Westerners is that of Yin and Yang, which holds that the world is full of opposites, unified in how they complement one another (e.g. light and dark, high and low etc.). There are no gods in Taoism, but it is a logic that can be polytheistic, and therefore allows the gods of other religions to intertwine. Many spirits are worshiped (different from gods), representing mountains, rivers, or even gates and cooking stoves. Some important historical figures are believed to have become spirits in their afterlives (e.g. Guan Yu). Common Taoist practices are meditation, fortune telling, Feng Shui, Tai Chi and the reading and chanting of scriptures. Today, however, Tai Chi can be associated with a form of exercise rather than a religious practice.

Chinese Variation of Buddhism
Modern Chinese Buddhism is called Mayahana Buddhism. This teaching emphasises the idea that Buddha is not merely a mortal teacher, but a deity that can provide help and salvation through prayer (e.g. rubbing the belly of Happy Buddha). Many Chinese Buddhists are also Taoists and pray to both deities.
China
  • Population
    1,401,586,609
    19.13% of World Population
  • Languages
    Mandarin (official)
    Cantonese
    Shanghainese
    Plus other dialects
  • Religions
    No Religion (52.5%)
    Folk Religion (21.9%)
    Buddhism (18.2%)
    Christianity (5.1%)
    Islam (1.8%)
  • Ethnicities
    Han Chinese (91.6%)
    Zhuang (1.3%)
    Other (7.1%)
  • English Proficiency
    Well (49.41%)
  • Cultural Dimensions
    Power Distance 80
    Individualism 20
    Masculinity 66
    Uncertainty Avoidance 30
    Long Term Orientation 87
    Indulgence 24
    What's this?
  • Australians with Chinese Ancestry
    866,208
Chinese in Australia
  • Population
    509,555
    [2016 census]
    Figure excluding SARs and Taiwan
  • Average Age
    35
  • Gender
    Male (44.4%)
    Female (55.6%)
  • Religion
    No Religion (63.2%)
    Buddhism (16.2%)
    Catholic Christianity (3.4%)
    Other (11.4%)
  • Ancestry
    Chinese (94.1%)
    English (1.8%)
    Russian (1.4%)
  • Languages
    Mandarin (65.3%)
    Cantonese (22.5%)
    Samoan (2.5%)
    Chinese (6.0%)
  • English Proficiency
    Well (49.41%)
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (48.9%)
    Victoria (29.4%)
    Queensland (8.5%)
    Western Australia (5.2%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (38.2%)
    2001-2006 (23.7%)
    2007-2011 (33.7%)
Where do we get our statistics?
Country CN Flag