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Published Monday, August 19, 19 | By PaulvHill

China has long been a cradle and host to a variety of the most enduring religio-philosophical traditions of the world. Confucianism and Taoism later joined by Buddhism, constitute the "three teachings" that have shaped Chinese culture. There are no clear boundaries between these intertwined religious systems, which do not claim to be exclusive, and elements of each enrich popular or folk religion. The emperors of China claimed the Mandate of Heaven and participated in Chinese religious practices. In the early 20th century, reform-minded officials and intellectuals attacked all religions as "superstitious", and since 1949, China has been governed by the Communist Party of China, an atheistinstitution that prohibits party members from practising religion while in office. In the culmination of a series of campaigns against religions already underway since the late 19th century, the Cultural Revolution against old habits, ideas, customs and culture, lasting from 1966 to 1967, destroyed or forced them underground. Under the following leaders, religious organisations were given more autonomy. The government formally recognises five religions: BuddhismTaoismIslamProtestantism, and Catholicism (though the Chinese Catholic Church is independent of the Catholic Church in Rome). In the early twenty-first century, there has been increasing official recognition of Confucianism and Chinese folk religion as part of China's cultural inheritance.

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