Religions of China

practiced denominations of Buddhism. Other forms, such as Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism, are practiced largely by ethnic minorities along the geographic fringes of the Chinese mainland.

Christianity was first introduced to China during the Tang Dynasty, with the arrival of Nestorian Christianity in 635 AD. This was followed by Franciscan missionaries in the 13th century, Jesuits in the 16th century, and finally Protestants in the 19th century. Of China's minority religions, Christianity is one of the fastest-growing. The total number of Christians is difficult to determine, as many belong to unauthorized house churches, but estimates of their number have ranged from 40 million (3% of the total population) to 54 million (4%) to as many as 130 million (10%). Official government statistics put the number of Christians at 25 million, but these count only members of officially sanctioned church bodies. China is believed to now have the world's second-largest evangelical Christian population—behind only the United States—and is also experiencing a surge in mainstream Christian publishing. In 2011, it was reported that more people attended Sunday church services in China than in all of Europe.

Islam in China dates to a mission in 651, only 18 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims initially came to China for trade, becoming prominent in the trading ports of the Song Dynasty. Later, Muslims such as Zheng He, Lan Yu and Yeheidie'erding became influential in government circles, and Nanjing became an important center of Islamic study. Accurate statistics on China's Muslim population are hard to find; most estimates give a figure of between 20 and 30 million Muslims (1.5% to 2% of the total population).

China also plays host to numerous minority religions, including Hinduism, Dongbaism, Bön, and a number of more modern religions and sects (particularly Xiantianism). In July 1999, the Falun Gong spiritual practice was officially banned