Negotiations between Christian communities and authoritarian China : some comments on the current state of scholarship on Christianity in China

Source document: Religio. 2020, vol. 28, iss. 2, pp. [165]-183
  • ISSN
    1210-3640 (print)
    2336-4475 (online)
Type: Article
This article aims to critically evaluate the current state of research into the Protestant and Catholic Churches in the Chinese context. It introduces two main academic discourses on Christianity in China; it also mentions some challenges connected to the use of the triple-market approach proposed by Yang Fenggang, and extensively used by many scholars of Chinese religions today. Instead of employing the market approach, I believe in the need to confront the main discourses with empirical data. In the article, I use the example of the official Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is categorised as a "red" religious market supporting communist rule. As such, the churches united under this body are often neglected by researchers, as they are perceived as "unproblematic" – and, therefore, do not support the narrative of Christian groups victimized by the Chinese government. Nonetheless, the Christian churches (or any religious groups within the "red" market) need our scholarly attention, as choosing cooperation instead of opposition is not unproblematic – and various processes of negotiation between a religious group and the government should be included in the research.