Bishop John Baptist Yang Xiaoting was born in April 9, 1964 and ordained a priest of Zhouzhi diocese, also in Shaanxi, in 1991. He studied in Italy from 1993 and obtained a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome in 1999. From 2000-2002, he studied in the United States and obtained a Master's degree in socio-religious studies. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as coadjutor of Yan'an (Yulin) diocese in late 2006.
He taught and served as deputy rector at the regional seminary in Xi'an from 2002 until his ordination as coadjutor bishop on July 15, 2010, with both papal approval and government recognition. He also did research on relations between religion and society.
Having obtained a doctorate from a pontifical university, Bishop Yang was the first mainland priest to attain such a qualification since religious activities were revived in the late 1970s.
According to Bishop Yang, who visited all the parishes after nominated as bishop candidate in 2009, there are about 40,000 Catholics in the diocese.