From the LDS Church Newsroom: “A series of high-level meetings between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and an official from the People’s Republic of China is expected to lead to “regularized” operations for the Church in China.”
“It is important to understand what the term regularizing means, and what it does not mean,” Church spokesman Michael Otterson said. “It does not mean that we anticipate sending missionaries to China. That issue is not even under consideration.
“The Church deeply appreciates the courtesy of the Chinese leadership in opening up a way to better define how the Church and its members can proceed with daily activities, all in harmony with Chinese law.”
With China’s long history of persecuting Christians – first in 845 with an imperial edict limited all foreign religion, including Christianity – this is should be a welcomed changed of attitude for all Christian denominations as it may be the first time a foreign run Church was allowed to remotely operate in an officially recognized capacity within China. More recently, the post WWII Communist China had promoted atheism as part of the Marxist ideology of the Chinese Community Party. After the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), China decided to regulate churches by requiring them to be registered with the government and subjects them to state monitoring and restrictions involving personnel, preaching topics and congregational composition. This resulted in may Christian Churches starting similar but separate denominations in China.
Although the LDS Church does not currently proselytize in China, they do hold worship services. People living in China on foreign passports are allowed to hold religious meetings, but with restrictions that have kept the LDS Church from operating in China in a more official capacity. The restrictions for expatriate members in China include no proselyting of any kind, no distribution of religious materials and no invitations to Chinese nationals to join the international branches’ meetings or activities. If the church becomes “Regularized”, some of these restrictions may be lifted; hopefully allowing native Chinese people to begin participating.