Jesus more popular than Mao in China?

Published 11 April 2014  |  
AP
in this file photo, Christians pray during an Easter service at Nantang church, Beijing, China.

Despite Christianity's struggles in China, Jesus and Christianity are still far more popular on Weibo, China's version of Twitter than Chairman Mao and Communism.

A survey by Tea Leaf Nation, a magazine run by researchers studying China's social media trends, found that a search for 'Bible' on Weibo produces over 17 million results.

Searching the same site for 'Quotations of Chairman Mao', a text more commonly known in the West as the 'Little Red Book' only yielded 60,000 results.

The words 'Christian Congregation' have over 41.8 million mentions on Weibo, but the 'Communist Party' only gets 5.3 million results.

Weibo users talk about the current Chinese president, Xi Jinping, far less than Jesus. The leader of the 1.35 billion people strong nation is only mentioned 4 million times on Weibo, while Jesus is mentioned more than 18 million times.

'Christmas' is mentioned almost 150 million times, more than three times as often as 'Chinese National Day'.

Despite being an outwardly atheistic country, 'God' received over 165 million Weibo mentions, more than 18 times the searches for 'Mao Zedong'.

However, China's army of over 100,000 government censors has not been completely idle. Any searches for the term 'underground church' result in a message on screen that reads "results cannot be displayed due to relevant laws and regulations".

Tea Leaf Nation puts the high interest in Christianity down to declining interest in Communist ideology and the rapid growth of the religion in China in the past few decades.

Official Chinese government figures put the number of Christians in China at 25 million, but external observers with more knowledge of the underground church situation say the number is closer to around 60 to 100 million.

Reports suggest that between 3,000 and 10,000 are turning to Jesus in China every day, despite the fact that Christian persecution charity Open Doors lists China as the 37th worst persecutor of Christians globally.

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