Pragmatism Dictates China's Religious Policy

Strategic chip firm given leeway for Christian worship
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2008 8:51 PM CDT
A man chats on the mobile phone near a statue of the Buddha in a shop outside the Potala Palace in Lhasa, western China's Tibet Province, Saturday, July 28, 2007.    (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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(Newser) – China officially sanctions religious worship only at state facilities, but the Christian Science Monitor finds that plenty of wiggle room exists in the business world. It profiles one company whose Christian CEO is allowed to put up a church at every worksite. Why such accommodation in a formally atheist state? The company, SMIC, makes semiconductors, an area of production China is desperate to increase for its domestic electronics industry.

Despite Beijing's tough rhetoric on religion, Chinese officials are flexible in practice—if they get something out of it, the CSM notes. Companies that promote “harmonious society” in the government's view are generally undisturbed; those seen as subversive are not. "As long as we're considered China's semiconductor company, as long as we're good for China, they work with us," said an SMIC spokesman.