||: 1.42 billion
||: 13 million (1 %)
||: 20 Archdioceses, 95 Dioceses, 29 Apostolic Prefectures, One Apostolic Administration
||: Folk religions and Taoism 73.56%, Buddhism 15.87%, Christianity 2.53%, Islam 0.45%, Other 7.60%
The earliest documented presence of Christianity in China is seen in Nestorian missioners who came to the then Chinese capital of Chang’an (Xi’an). They were welcomed by the emperor of the Tang Dynasty in 635 AD.
The first Catholic mission to China was led by Franciscan friar Giovanni da Montecorvino, who arrived in the present day Beijing in 1293. The Russian Orthodoxy was introduced in 1715 and the Protestants started their mission in China in 1807.
A nationwide survey conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 2010 showed that there are at least 23 million Protestants across the country, accounting for 1.8 percent of the 1.3 billion people in China.
Officially, the mainland China has 6 million Catholics. The Holy Spirit Study Centre of Hong Kong diocese estimates that China has some 12 million Catholics, including the “unregistered” Catholics, who reject the government-sanctioned Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
Christian charity and social services actions are seen as necessary in the social welfare of the nation. In recent years, the government has started encouraging religions to participate actively in social services.
China stopped official diplomatic relations with the Vatican after the Communist Party came to power in 1949. The country has more than 100 dioceses, but it does not have a Vatican-recognized bishops’ conference or an official Catholic directory.
The split between the “unregistered” Church community and the government-approved “open” Church community has made the hierarchical issues more complicated. The “unregistered” Catholics followed the Church hierarchy before 1949, but many provincial borders have changed over the decades.
Moreover, the “open” Church community now reorganizes individual dioceses, without distinguishing archdioceses, while the Vatican does not recognize some of the newly created dioceses. Political reality makes the diocesan directory for China extremely difficult to compile.
The UCAN Directory will follow the current practice of providing a list of dioceses that are prevalent among Catholics in the mainland.