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Christianity in China (called 基督教, or Christ religion) is a growing minority religion that comprises Protestants, Catholics, and a small number of Orthodox Christians. Although its lineage in China is not as ancient as beliefs such as Confucianism or Taoism, or comparable missionary faiths such as Mahayana Buddhism, Christianity has developed in China since at least the 7th century and has demonstrated increasing influence for over 200 years. Growth has been more significant since the loosening of restrictions on religion after the 1970s within the People's Republic. Religious practices are still often tightly controlled by government authorities. Chinese over age 18 in the PRC are permitted to be involved with officially sanctioned Christian meetings through the "Three-Self Patriotic Movement" or the "Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association". Many Chinese Christians also meet in "unregistered" house church meetings. Reports of sporadic persecution against such Christians in Mainland China have caused concern among outside observers.

The subject of China's Christian population is controversial. The government of the People's Republic of China census enumerated 4 million Roman Catholics and 10 million ‎Protestants. However, independent estimates have ranged from 40 million, to 100 million, to 130 million Christians. According to recent studies, there are roughly 54 million Christians in China, of which 39 million are Protestants and 14 million are Roman Catholics as the most common figure among others.

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Dr. Peter Parker
Medical missions in China by Protestant Christian physicians and surgeons of the 19th and early 20th centuries laid many foundations for modern medicine in China. Western medical missionaries established the first modern clinics and hospitals, provided the first training for nurses and opened the first medical schools in China. Work was also done in opposition to the abuse of opium. Medical treatment and care came to many Chinese who were helplessly addicted and eventually public and official opinion was influenced in favor of bringing an end to the destructive trade. The history of China’s current health institutions can be traced to many of the medicines, methods, and systems introduced by medical missionaries.

With time the expansion and growth of hospitals in China during the 1800s became more widely accepted. By 1937 there were 254 mission hospitals in China, but more than half of these were eventually destroyed by Japanese bombing during World War II or otherwise due to the Second Sino-Japanese War or the Chinese Civil War. After World War II most of these hospitals were at least partially rehabilitated, and eventually passed to the control of the Government of the Peoples' Republic of China, but are still functioning as hospitals.

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Xi wang yang shan sheng tang.jpg
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A church in China


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Eric Henry Liddell (Born in Tianjin, China) (January 16, 1902February 21, 1945, Chinese name 李愛銳, Li Airui) was a Scottish athlete and Rugby Union international and also the winner of the Men's 400 metres at the Olympic Games of 1924 held in Paris. He then served as a Protestant Christian missionary to China. He was portrayed in the film Chariots of Fire. His surname is pronounced /ˈlɪdəl/ and rhymes with fiddle.

After the Olympics and his graduation, he returned to Northern China where he served as a missionary, like his parents, from 1925 to 1943 - first in Tianjin and later in Shaochang (Chinese 韶昌). During this time he continued to compete sporadically, including wins over members of the 1928 French and Japanese Olympic teams in the 200 and 400 metres at the South Manchurian Railway celebrations in China in 1928 and a victory at the 1930 North China championship.

The Japanese invasion of China reached Shaochang and the Japanese took over the mission station. In 1943, he was interned at the Weihsien (now known as Weifang) Internment Camp with the members of the China Inland Mission Chefoo (now known as Yantai) School. Liddell became a leader at the camp and helped get it organized. He died there of a brain tumor while in captivity.

In 1991, a memorial headstone, made from Isle of Mull granite was unveiled at Liddell's previously unmarked grave in Weifang, erected by Edinburgh University. A few simple words taken from the Book of Isaiah, formed the inscription: "They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary." The city of Weifang, as part of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the internment camp, commemorated the life of Liddell by laying a wreath at the memorial headstone marking his grave in 2005.



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