Changing Church-State Relations in Contemporary China: The Case of the Fengxiang Diocese

Shun-hing Chan*

*Corresponding author for this work

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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This study examines the dynamics of church-state relations in contemporary China by analyzing the case of the Catholic Diocese of Fengxiang in Shaanxi province. The article seeks to identify the salient patterns of church-state relations in the Fengxiang diocese and the social factors that contribute to the formation of such patterns. I argue that the three key factors contributing to church-state relations in Fengxiang are the absence of competition between the open and the underground church, the mediating role of the Vatican, and the pragmatism of the government. The absence of competition enables the priests to concentrate their power on countering the government control. The priests embrace papal leadership and resist the establishment of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in the diocese. The government officials negotiate with the priests and offer them legal status. The church-state model presented by the Diocese of Fengxiang can be called "cooperative resistance." The resistance of the priests helps to preserve the autonomy of the church and to maintain a limited degree of religious freedom in the diocese.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-77
Number of pages13
JournalChinese Sociological Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Demography
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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