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People’s Republic of China

About The People’s Republic of China:

Also known as Communist China……not to be confused with Democratic Republic of China (Taiwan)…..this is one of the economic power house countries of our world today and, also, one of the most repressive.  The government exerts almost total control over its citizens, who are monitored and given a social credit score based on their loyalty to the regime. Those with a bad social credit score receive penalties in the form of things like loan denials, restricted travel, or even public shaming.

As of 2022, the population of the People’s Republic of China was  1.4 billion, making it one of the largest in the world (India was possibly tied at 1.4 billion as well).  The population of the U.S. pales in comparison, with roughly 333 million in 2022, although in terms of land area the two countries are almost the same.

Most of the rural population has moved to the cities as a result of better job opportunities, making their cities some of the largest (population-wise) in the world.

The country does face some demographic challenges.  Due to its earlier one-child policy, they have an aging work force (especially not enough females, since they were often killed in abortions), the marriage rate…and the birth rate…..was not enough to keep up population growth among younger people.  Note that the median age has risen from 18 in 1970 to 28.9 in 2000 and will likely hit 40 in 2025.  By 2050 it will reach 50.7, almost triple that of 1970.

Although the government began relaxing their one-child policy in 2013 (under the new policy, families could have two children if one parent, rather than both parents, was an only child), it may be a matter of “too little, too late”.  We wonder if “forced births” might be on the horizon.

About the Roman Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China:

The role of the Catholic Church here is a complex one, and we will not try to cover that in this article.  Briefly, after the 1949 takeover by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Catholic and Protestant missionaries were expelled from the country. In 1957, the communist government established the Catholic Patriotic Association in Beijing, which rejects the authority of the Holy See and appoints its own bishops; therefore, they are not Roman Catholic.

There are underground Roman Catholic Churches in Communist China.  We recommend you do not try to find or attend an underground church in China, as that can bring harm to those who have to live and survive in the country.  This would also violate the terms of your tourist visa and result in your being expelled from the country.  So just don’t do it.

You may attend one of the Communist-controlled churches to satisfy your Sunday obligation.

Although this may seem like a contradiction, The Code of Canon Law states:

“Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the [Catholic] Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.” (CIC 844 §2).


Catholic places of interest in the People’s Republic of China:

Hong Kong:  has reverted from British rule to become an administrative district of the People’s Republic of China: The handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China was at midnight on 1 July 1997. This event ended 156 years of British rule in the former colony, which began in 1841.

Here is a Youtube video about the Catholic Church in China today.


Traveling to the People’s Republic of China:

Most countries have direct flights to Shanghai and other cities in China.  For U.S. residents, several airlines offer non-stop flights to Shanghai.  Some tour companies offer group travel to the People’s Republic of China, but there are no Catholic tour companies, of which we are aware, that are offering trips to The People’s Republic of China.

If do travel to the People’s Republic of China, assume that you will be monitored throughout your visit, and act accordingly.

A final word about Communist China:

Throughout the long arc of history, every empire built upon repression of individual rights eventually fell.  We saw it most recently in the fall of the Soviet Union (although “freedom” is a relative term, it appears less repressive than when it was under Communist rule). Such will probably be the case here….be it years, decades or centuries, but there is a God-given quest for freedom in mankind that cannot be quenched.  Totalitarian regimes are always between a rock and a hard place…..clamp down too much on freedom and risk open revolt…..open up to a greater degree of freedom and risk destroying the regime.  And now, with the prevalence of the internet and social media, people are more connected with the world than ever before.


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