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Special feature: Locating Civil Society: Communities Defending Basic Liberties

Protestant Christianity and Civil Society in Authoritarian China

The Impact of Official Churches and Unregistered “Urban Churches” on Civil Society Development in China in the 2000s
Carsten T. Vala
p. 43-52


Religious groups can reinforce, complement, or undermine authoritarian domination. This article investigates whether high-status Protestant churches act as democratising civil society organisations by gathering hundreds of Protestants openly outside state structures to change church registration policies. In so doing, they also seek to curtail state domination over religion and, by extension, over all groups in society.

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Electronic reference

Carsten T. Vala, « Protestant Christianity and Civil Society in Authoritarian China », China Perspectives [Online], 2012/3 | 2012, Online since 01 October 2015, connection on 27 May 2017. URL :

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About the author

Carsten T. Vala

Assistant Professor of Political Science, Loyola University Maryland.
4501 N. Charles St., Department of Political Science, Loyola University, Maryland, Baltimore, MD USA 21210 (

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