In China, religious practice is protected under the law only insofar as it is supervised by the state. In reality though, many Protestant churches are unregistered and informally tolerated by local public security bureaus. The empirical starting point of the book is to explain why local public security bureaus tolerate unregistered churches in Chinese cities. It discusses and refutes explanations in the study of Chinese politics and international relations that might address parts of this question. Those focus on the impact of international pressure on autocratic behavior, the principal-agent dilemma, the political economy of religion, social networks, and consultative authoritarianism. It finally introduces the argument, the methodology of the book, and its structure.
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