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What percentage of Chinese people are Buddhists?
Historians have done extensive research and found that before 1600s, nearly 100% of the Chinese population was Buddhist. This was due to minimal contact to the outside world. However, in the late 1800s and the early 1900s immigrants flock to China and Japan.Within the immigrants, millions were either Christian or Catholic. Therefore, in the early 1900s, the Buddhist population fell from nearly 100% to 75%." Its seems like this is going to continue until less than 20% of the Chinese population is Buddhist."Says American historian,Jeffery Liggerman.
From the time of the Axial Age until the twentieth century, the Chinese people were divided among the major religions of Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, with smaller numbers adhering simply to the pre-Axial-Age beliefs. Many Chinese people respect two or more of these religions and so could not be regarded as purely Buddhist or purely Daoist, for example.
Since the introduction of communism, an unknown number of Chinese people have moved away from religion and can now be regarded as atheists, a similar story to what happened in parts of Eastern Europe. Confucianism is declining because of government disapproval of ancestor worship. An unknown number of Chinese people have also adopted Christianity. The visible evidence is that attendance at Christian churches is very small, but there may be somewhat greater numbers who worship privately in "house churches". Islam has a quite significant number of adherents, especially in the west of China. The fastest growing religion in China is said to be Falun Gong, an off-shoot of Buddhism, but this religion is banned and no meaningful information is available as to its numbers.
Among those who retain traditional religious affiliations, Daoism is stronger in rural areas and Buddhism is stronger in the cities. Allowing for dual association, the majority of Chinese people are Buddhist, followed by Daoism.