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Living in Beijing Guide

Contrary to some rumours, it is perfectly acceptable to practice most popular religions in China. There are five official religions in China, and all are represented in Beijing: Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam. Although Judaism is not officially recognised, Beijing hosts a small but active Jewish community. There are controls, however: the China-based Catholic Patriotic Association (CPCA), rather than the Pope, is the ultimate authority over Beijing’s Chinese Catholics, while local Protestants look to the Three Self-Patriotic Movement. There are now about 800 Jews in the city, and weekly services are held at the Capital Club Athletic Centre in Chaoyang District (www.sinogogue.org). Practising religion in licenced churches and in the privacy of your home is fine, but avoid prosyletising in public – the government disapproves of this behaviour and it could be interpreted as disturbing the peaceful order. In some churches with English services, only foreign passport holders are allowed to attend. Also, avoid spending too much time professing your religion to Chinese colleagues, as it might make them uncomfortable. Definitely steer clear of controversial topics such as religious freedom in Tibet or the Falun Gong.

Places of Worship Muslim

Niujie Mosque 牛街礼拜寺
88 Niujie, Xuanwu District
(6353 2564)
This is the oldest and largest mosque in Beijing, and also the most popular.


Chongwenmen Church (Ashbury Methodist) 崇文门教堂(亚斯立堂)
2D Hougou Hutong, 4 Chongwenmennei Dajie, Dongcheng District
(6513 3549)
This is the largest Protestant Church in Beijing and holds services in English at 8am, 10:30am and 7pm on Sundays.

Beijing International Christian Fellowship (BICF) 北京基督教联合会
21 Dongdanbei Dajie, Dongcheng District
(6525 5086, www.bicf.org)
BCIF hosts multicultural, Bible-centred, interdenominational gatherings.


Chabad Lubavitch of Beijing 庞坦北京
18 Xiaoyun Lu, Chaoyang District
(8470 8238, www.chabadbeijing.com)
The Rohr Family Chabad Community Centre hosts classes and activities. Additionally, it is home to a Hebrew school and a kosher store.


Xuanwumen Church (South Church – Nantang) 宣武门教堂(南堂)
141 Qianmen Xidajie, Xicheng District
(6602 6538)
Also known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, this is the oldest Catholic Church in Beijing. Mass is celebrated in English at 10:30am and 4pm on Sundays.

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