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Belief in Control: Regulation of Religion in China

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 July 2003


This article examines the regulation of religion in China, in the context of changing social expectations and resulting dilemmas of regime legitimacy. The post-Mao government has permitted limited freedom of religious belief, subject to legal and regulatory restrictions on religious behaviour. However, this distinction between belief and behaviour poses challenges for the regime's efforts to maintain political control while preserving an image of tolerance aimed at building legitimacy. By examining the regulation of religion in the context of patterns of compliance and resistance in religious conduct, the article attempts to explain how efforts to control religion raise challenges for regime legitimacy.

Research Article
© The China Quarterly, 2003

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The research for this article was made possible by a strategic grant on Globalization and Social Cohesion in Asia from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), for which I am grateful. I would like also to thank Meera Bawa, a graduate student and law student at UBC for her research assistance.