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Christianity in China: A Force for Change?

Past Event

Christianity in China: A Force for Change?

As Chinese leaders forcefully pursue an anti-corruption campaign and work to overcome an emerging moral and spiritual vacuum, Christianity continues to flourish. Having spread rapidly throughout Chinese society since the government began to relax restrictions on religion in 1979, Christianity is now estimated to have more than 33 million followers in China. According to Italian media, even Xi Jinping developed a relationship with Pope Francis after they corresponded while assuming their respective leadership positions only three days apart.

As more Chinese turn to Christianity and others flout government sanctions on church activities, will the government allow for increased church autonomy? Consequently, will civil society be able to more fully reap the benefits of this increased Christian activity?

On June 3, the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings hosted two public panel discussions about how Christianity has transformed Chinese society, and continues to do so. For the first panel, Senior Fellow Richard Bush moderated a discussion on the social and political status of Christianity in China with Liu Peng, Carsten Vala and Reverend Zhang Boli. In the second panel, David Aikman moderated a discussion on the ways Christianity impacts Chinese civil society with Jiexia Zhai Autry, Richard Madsen and Zhao Xiao.


The Social and Political Status of Christianity in China


Liu Peng

Professor, Institute of American Studies - Chinese Academy of Social Science


Carsten Vala

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science - Loyola University Maryland

How Christianity is impacting Chinese Civil Society

David Aikman

Technical Head of Division - Macroprudential Strategy and Support Division ​ - Bank of England


Jiexia Zhai Autry

Global Fellow, Institute for Global Engagement - Research Professor, George Mason University


Richard Madsen

Distinguished Professor - University of California, San Diego


Zhao Xiao

Professor - University of Science and Technology, Beijing

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