Freedom of religion is guaranteed by China’s constitution, although religious organizations that lack official approval can be subject to state persecution. Estimates of religious demographics in China vary. A 2007 survey found that 31.4 percent of Chinese above the age of 16 were religious, while a 2006 study found that 46% of the Chinese population were religious.

Over the millennia, the Chinese civilization has been influenced by various religious movements. China’s San Jiao (“three doctrines” or “three religions”) include Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, and historically have had a significant impact in shaping Chinese culture. Elements of these three belief systems are often incorporated into popular or folk religious traditions. A 2008 survey of rural villagers in six provinces found that more than two-thirds of self-proclaimed religious believers (or 31.09% of all sample villagers) do not or cannot clearly identify their faith … These people believe that there are supernatural powers that dominate or strongly influence the fate of human beings, and they think their fates can be changed through offering sacrifices to gods or ancestors. These beliefs and practices are often deeply rooted in traditional Chinese cultures and customs of local communities.

A 2007 survey by the Horizon Research Consultancy Group found that individuals who self-identify as Buddhists made up 11–16% of China’s adult population, while Christians comprised around 3–4%, and Muslims comprised approximately 1%. Some of the ethnic minorities of China practice unique ethnic religions – Dongbaism is the traditional religion of the Nakhi people, Moism that of the Zhuang people, and Ruism that of the Qiang people. The traditional indigenous religion of Tibet is Bön, while most Tibetans follow Tibetan Buddhism, a form of Vajrayana.