Religious Religion

Religion in China

Great wall of China.

When you think about what beliefs and religions are in China, you might think about people like Confucius (孔子), and probably the philosopher Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha. However, a vast majority of China is actually not religious at all. Based on data from 2013, more than 88% would classify themselves as non-believers. Here's the rounded breakdown:

Folk religions2%
Other religionsless than 1%
MDPI - Religious Beliefs and Environmental Behaviors in China

This is often attributed to the introduction of the Communist Party of China, beginning in 1949. Since then, the government has maintained a position of atheism. However, the government has still decided to officially recognize the religious populations. But while Buddhism only represents a mere 5% of the population, that ends up being more than 240 million people! The officially recognized religions are Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam.

Islam and Xinjiang

The primary Muslim population in China resides in Xinjiang (新疆) province.


Although Buddhism originated in India, it entered China over 2,000 years ago. It's now the most popular system of belief in China.


Confucianism isn't technically a religion, but rather a way of thinking and behaving. As the name suggests, it was created by Confucius around 552-479 BC. He primarily focused on the ideal method to build and maintain societal order and harmony.


The idea revolves around the tao or the way. While it doesn't hold a large population of followers anymore, Taoism has had a major influence on Chinese culture. In fact, the concept of yin and yang are the core teachings of Taoism.

So what do Chinese people think about religion?

Well, most younger Chinese people would likely identify as atheist, agnostic, or nonreligious. It seems they have figured out that it's not a system worth distributing or teaching, therefore it has fallen out of favor in the society. Similar to what Ricky Gervais says: if you weren't allowed you to teach religion until people turned 21, don't you think most people wouldn't be religious?