The Political Economy of Religion in Local China Some Initial Findings Juan Wang Johns Hopkins University March 27, Philadelphia AAS Revival of Religion or Commercialization of Religion? -On January 7, 2010, The State Administration for Religious Affairs issued regulations on financial supervision of religious operations., which was enacted on March 1, 2010. Business Week, Jan 2008 On the first day of every lunar month, Buddhists crowd the Yonghe Temple to burn incense, Beijing. Two Research Goals No. 1: Demonstrate different roles of local state in religious market. No. 2: Explain such differences No. 1: Three types of local state-religion-market relations: (1) state-supported commercialization of religion in northeastern China (2) state-sponsored commercialization of religion in central China (3) Separation between the state and religion in southern China (?) What’s puzzling about this? We anticipate variations in central policies towards different religions. But there is great variation among local China in terms of the extent to which and ways in which local states interact with religious activities in market sphere. So what? (1) The development of religious market in China is an arena where central-local relations, state-society relations, state-religion relations, and state-market relations are intertwined. (2) Different state roles in religious market may change local power structure and new economic and political opportunities for new actors. No.1: Three Cases (1) Fengguo Temple (Buddhist temple), Yi County in Liaoning (Northeast China): state-supported development of religious market (2) Taihao Ling (Taoist Temple), HY County in Henan (Central China): state-sponsored development of religious market (3) Yunfeng Temple (Buddhist temple), SH County in Fujian ( Southern China): separation between local state and religion Fengguo Temple (奉国寺) in Yi County, Liaoning Province • http://www.yxfgs.cn/newEbiz1/EbizPortalFG/portal/html/fgsjj.htm State-Religion-Market Relations in Yi County County government supports religious market to collective fiscal revenue: (state-supported commercialization of religion) Revenue Sources: -Sales Tax from Small Businesses and Street Venders (including meat balls and BBQs) -Certain share of donation Taihao Ling (太昊陵) in HY County, Henan Province http://www.taihaoling.gov.cn/INDEX1.ASP State-Religion-Market Relations in HY County • County government invests in and develops tourist Industry (State-sponsored commercialization of religion) -Acquisition of land (131,000 square meters = 3.2 acre =13.1 hectare) -Construction and reconstruction of buildings (an investment of 2.35 million Yuan between 1997 and 2003, 25 million Yuan in 2004) Yunfeng Temple (云峰寺) in SH County, Fujian Province • • No website county government’s separation from religious activities Research Goal No. 2: Potential Explanations While China’s central government has different policies towards different religious activities, how can great local variations of state-religion-market relations be explained? State Factors: (Top-Down perspective) IV 1: Levels of Local Government Revenue Hypothesis: the higher level of government revenue, the less likely for the local government to engage in religious market. IV 2: Levels of Government Regulations on Religious Activities Hypothesis: the more comprehensive regulations there are on religious activities from upper levels of authorities (e.g. provincial level), the less likely for lower levels of government (e.g. county level) to participate in religious market. [indeterminate cause] Social Factors: (Bottom-Up Perspective) IV 3: Levels of activeness of Religious institutions. Hypothesis: the more active local religious institutions have been, the less likely the local government get involved in religious activities. Research Goal No. 2: Comparisons and Potential Explanations • Potential IV 1: Levels of Local Government Revenue (Unit 100 million Yuan) 7 6 5 4 Yi County HY County 3 SH County 2 1 0 199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008 Research Goal No. 2: Potential Explanations Potential IV 2: Levels of regulations from the provincial government Jilin: Ethic and Religions Affairs Committee Research Goal No. 2: Potential Explanations Potential IV 2: Levels of regulations from the provincial government Henan: Ethic and Religion Affairs Committee Research Goal No. 2: Potential Explanations Potential IV 2: Levels of regulations from the provincial government Fujian: Ethic and Religions Affairs Committee Research Goal No. 2: Potential Explanations Potential IV 3: Activeness of Religious Institutions -possible indicators: 1. total number of religious institutions 2. percentage of private religious institutions. 3. timing and location (cluster) of establishment of new religious sites (GIS) By 2000, Liaoning: 62% of 834 religious institutions are churches. 92% are private. Henan: 69% of 2344 cases are churches. 96% are private. Fujian: 51% of 2436 cases are Buddhist temples. 98% are private. Comparisons and Potential Explanations While China’s central government has different policies towards different religious activities, how can great local variations in state’s roles in religious market be explained? Yi County (Liaoning) HY County (Henan) SH County (Fujian) DV: Levels of Local State’s role in commercialization of religion medium high low IV 1: Levels of Local Government Revenue low Low High IV 2: Levels of comprehensive regulations on religious activities low low high IV 3: Levels of activeness of religious institutions Low low high Further Notes (1) Different Phenomenon in Southern China: -Xiamen: In November, 2007, the chamber of commerce in coastal Xiamen sponsored the second annual Buddhist Items & Crafts fair. More than 40,000 entrepreneurs descended on the vast Xiamen International Conference & Exhibition Center and loaded up on statuary, prayer beads, incense burners, and other goods. (2) The case of HY County in Henan province had significant political reasons: (developed as political project or political performance of the county government supported by the provincial government.): (1) -this is a long-term investment while local officials have short-term rationality; (2) -such large-volume project can be politically risky. • Its implementation shows (1) central official’s support (2) provincial-level officials’ support • -this is a state-designated poorest county, where rationally subsidies are assigned.