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Studies on the relationship between religion and economy indicate that there is a direct relationship between the two. Originally economists did not bother much with the relationship but some relationship seem to be there for those who have cared to research. The growth of China's economy is one such example. China has a population of more than one billion people and has five main religions. The main religions in china include Buddhists, Taoists, Islam, Catholics and Protestants. There is freedom of worship in china and all citizens are allowed to join a faith of their choice. Buddhism is the religion with the most followers while Christianity is the religion which is growing the fastest in china. The greatest religious influence in China, however, is based on Buddhism being the oldest religion together with Confucianism, and hence having the greatest influence on the culture of the Chinese people and their economic environment.
The growth and development of China's economy, to some extent, can be attributed to the religious nature of China. This can be linked to that fact that most religious teachings preach on morals, which then affect how people conduct themselves and create an atmosphere conducive for business and coexistence. Religions also empower people economically which has a spiral effect where those empowered for instance through education are able to help grow the economy.
Growth of religion also can be affected by economic and political situation in a country. Good economy ensure religion has a conducive atmosphere to thrive but the relationship is inverse at some level. When the conditions are hard, due to the teachings of perseverance in religion, it spreads much be faster in those harsh conditions when everybody has problems. When people are facing problems, there is a tendency to believe in religion and worship more unlike when everything I ok and smooth flowing.
Chinese Economy and Religion
All religions in China have equal status and coexist harmoniously. The religions compatibility culture, and the government formulated policy of freedom of worship has created a conducive politico-religious atmosphere. Believers of different religions in China together with non-believers respect one another, which eliminates likelihood of religious disputes in China. This good relationship between all religions creates a good environment for business as no one fears investing in the country. All local and foreign investments are almost guaranteed that peace will prevail and can do big investments in the country. This has made the economy of China to grow rapidly.
Region also affects the economy by the traits it inculcates in the minds of the followers of those religions. Religion trains people to work hard, work ethics and openness and fair treatment of others including neighbours. This means that religious beliefs affect individual characters which in turn affect the country's economic performance.
The Confucian tradition and culture of china has also helped a great deal in its economic success. There have been sustained and relenting rituals targeted on one goal, in an attempt to achieve it. For the last several years, the goal for these rituals has been economic growth. Policy makers also, having realized that a majority of China's population share deep Confucian views, have helped propel the economy forward. Beijing for instance does not consider religious believes when pursuing its economic policies as they know the homogeneity of their citizens, a factor that has benefited its economic growth and development.
China is composed of one homogeneous community descendant of the great Han dynasty who were the rulers of china between 206BC and 220AD. This Han population is about 92 % of china's population and this makes everyone comfortable with any rules or goals set for the nation, another factor that has contributed to economic growth of China.
Religious communities for instance Christians, provide a network of relations with other regions, something that brings about cohesion in the international arena. There are also exchange programmes where scholars, faithfuls and leaders of churches exchange with those from other countries to go preaching in each other countries. This fosters international relations which in turn add to international trade and thereby growth of the Chinese economy. There is also another type of immigration which has emerged. Educated and skilled people who had moved to over sea countries in search for greener pastures are being attracted back with incentives to work in the country, either in government or business so as to grow the economy further.
The Buddhism and Confucianism religious cultures in China have had a deep impact in the life and economics of the Chinese for many years, spanning to a period of about two thousand years now since the Han dynasty. These religious cultures have started booming again after the cultural revolution of 1966 to 1976 which had suppressed them.
Religion is currently being promoted in many areas of public life including business as it has been realized that religion eases tension between the haves and have-nots. There is also a trend where temple monks are trying to link business with Buddhism and a tread of many Chinese businesspeople worshipping Buddha in order for their business to prosper. This has made many people see the relationship and influence of Buddhism, and religion in general on business.
Buddhism and Confucianism teachings use harmony to achieve inner piece. The second principle of Buddhism teaches harmony in whatever one is doing, whether business or during leisure time. People should observe harmony and peace with local customers which will enable them live in harmony as trouble starts from the mouth and harmony can bring prosperity. Harmony is the goal of goodness which is at the heart of all human relationships and connections. This governs even business relationships and must be applied if the business performance is to be good.
In the recent years, the Chinese economy has started integrating into the global economy, with even Chinese citizens going to work oversees. More and more skilled workers and students have been encourage by the government to further their education and skills and work away from China in places such as Southeast Asia. There are many overseas Chinese merchants running low technological, less competitive and small scale retail shops and restaurants including medical clinics. Even in foreign land, they pray for safety, health and prosperity and observe other religious teaching.
The economic success of china, largely, benefits from Confucianism and Buddhism, which teaches on harmony and family connection. Whether within China or by Chinese merchants out of china, the influence is great.
A survey done to find out what is happening to international business in china, it was found that the most effective means of communication was building long term connections and harmony, the teachings of Buddhism. On the contributions of the religions to business in China, the study found that most respondents valued tolerance.
Another survey was conducted on the Chinese immigrants in Aveiro, the capital of District of Aveiro in the Northwest Portugal. About a third of the immigrants were business people. Buddhism and Confucianism was seen to greatly affect the way they conduct their businesses and how greatly that positively contributes to their business success. For instance, the decorations of the restaurants as well as scroll paintings and calligraphy were an indication of Buddhism. Given the family values taught in the religions, the employees have employed local and even international employees. They treat their employees as their own family and even have meals together in their homes to cement their relations and cultivate more harmony.
Another observation from the survey showed that Chinese business people have a patient, kind and inviting attitude toward their customers. They never quarrel in public, as this will cause disharmony and embarrassment. The businessmen cannot do anything that is against their faith and their business behavior must follow teachings of Buddha.
Buddhism teaches the importance of family ties. The Chinese therefore do their business together and spend money wisely, sending the reminder home to build their economy and help their elderly parents at home.
In an attempt to create harmony with the local society as per the teachings of Buddhism, the Chinese business men in the town of Aveiro surveyed do not report the locals they find shop lifting to the police. This is to avoid damaging the relationship between themselves and the locals which is not good for business. Thus, from the good relationship created, their business thrive there from, by following the Buddhism teachings. Buddhism and Confucianism require perseverance and patience from the believers. The Chinese are very patient and polite in business.
Confucianism teaches trusting only insiders and not trusting outsiders. This makes the Chinese merchants trust their family members only. This makes them always leave one of their own to supervise the business if they are away and not leave everything in the hands of the employees who are not their relatives. This eliminates the chances of fraud and misappropriation of money, which would make their businesses fail.
It is evident from above that religion has played a great role in development and growth of the Chinese economy. The modern religions a such as Christianity and Islam have played their role in shaping the business environment, and peoples attitude which has led to thriving businesses and growth of the general economy. The oldest religions and cultures of Buddhism and Confucianism have played the greater role in shaping the Chinese whether at home or in other countries, which has ensured the Chinese economy continues to grow.