There has been little in-depth research to date examining the role of Chinese traditional popular religion in contemporary Chinese politics. This book aims to fill that gap. The revival and efflorescence of traditional religion have been new phenomena in the post-Mao era and a number of commentators have noted this and have speculated upon it.1 Economic, political and social considerations have been mentioned as possible reasons why this has occurred in a country in which Marxist atheism has been part of the official ideology of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since it took power more than half a century ago. In recent years, the CCP has allowed religion greater social freedom in the cause of economic reform and political stability while maintaining one-party control. As has been recently observed, ‘religious traditions with completely non-Marxist ideologies are flourishing, which amount to a challenge to the authority of the party and state’.2