In this paper, Yu Tao, University of Oxford, describes the development of religious communities in rural China today. He explains how China’s burgeoning religious communities have acted as a powerful emerging social force in its domestic political arena, especially at the grassroots level. While Beijing now acknowledges that its anti-religious Communist policies of 1957 to 78 were wrong, its laws and regulations for implementing religious freedom have remained “frustratingly insufficient and ambiguous” over the past three decades. Drawing upon this, Yu offers a new framework to explain why religious communities in China have developed better in some places than others.
This essay was selected for publication at the ECRAN Young Researchers' PhD Student Forum, which took place at the University of Nottingham on 13 September 2011.