Towards traditional Chinese religions, the attitude of the Beijing government was different for Buddhism and Taoism. While Taoism, the Chinese national religion that has never gone outside the borders of China, has been persecuted, with relative closure of temples and convents, imprisonment and “re-education” of monks, suppression of Taoist secret societies, etc., the former, as well as Islam, was treated with greater tolerance, to avoid offending the sensitivities of the many Asian or African visitors from Buddhist or Mohammedan countries. For each of the three religions associations have been created that depend on the Ministry of the Interior: Buddhist May 11, 1953; June 3, 1953 Taoist December 1957.
Of the 5,441 foreign Catholic missionaries who were in China in 1948, very few remain. The internunzio, Msgr. Riberi, was expelled in 1951. A Chinese “Catholic Patriotic” Association, chaired by the bishop of Mukden P’i Shuh-shih, is responsible for administering and directing on behalf of the government what remains of Chinese Catholic priests and property; but this association has not been recognized by the Holy See, as indeed its leaders have been excommunicated.
Finances. – According to Intershippingrates, the general expansionist movement of the Chinese economy has been able to take place in a system of almost stationary internal prices thanks to the continuous increase in supply, the balanced budget and credit policy. According to the updated forecasts for 1958, the state budget, including those of local authorities, was in balance. It should be noted, however, that on December 17, 1958 a note of variation was presented according to which the revenues, for the financial year 1958, would have exceeded the forecasts by 14 billion; consequently, the expenses for investments of a productive nature would have risen to 23.5 billion yuan, from the 14 foreseen, of which 66% in the industrial sector and 12% in the agricultural sector. From 1950 to 1958 the state budget trend is shown in the table below.
Income includes international aid and Russian loans (US $ 300 million granted under the February 1950 agreement and RUB 520 million under the Beijing agreement of October 12, 1954 at the rate of 1%, plus additional aid estimated at 400 million rubles). Over the past two years, the loan service charge is measured at 0.8 and 1.0 billion yuan respectively. As regards 1957, the revenues are due for 2.9 billion to taxes on agriculture, for 10.7 billion to taxes on industry and trade, for 13.7 billion to income from state enterprises and for 620 million. to various incomes (loans and credits). While the the percentage incidence of the first two sources of income (10% and 40% respectively) remained almost unchanged in the period 1953-57, the percentage of various incomes shows a constant decrease balanced by the corresponding increase in that relating to the incomes of state-owned enterprises. Also in 1957, public spending was divided as follows: 13.7 billion yuan for investments, 4.8 billion for social and cultural expenses, 8 for defense, 1.6 for the repayment of loans.
The Communist currency is the “Jen Min Piao” or People’s Bank Dollar, better known as the yuan, divided into 10 “chiao” and 100 “fen”. The new currency was issued on March 1, 1955, at the exchange rate of 1 new yuan per 10,000 old yuan; from that date the official exchange rate is set at 6,893 yuan for 1 pound and 2.4 yuan for 1 US dollar. As regards the yuan-ruble exchange rate, it is to be considered that it is at par; in fact, the Soviet and Chinese statistics on the value of trade between the two countries indicate figures of almost equal amounts.
The currency is issued, according to the needs of production, by the People’s Bank of China, which functions as a central bank and a state bank. This bank, which has branches throughout the country, also performs the following main functions: it grants loans to industrial, agricultural and commercial enterprises for the pursuit of the purposes assigned to them by state plans; receives deposits from state-owned organizations and enterprises, cooperatives and individuals; carries out foreign currency transactions and makes international payments; exercises credit policy and control over banks.
The country’s banking system is divided into the following main institutions: a) the People’s Bank for Construction, a special institution which, under the direction of the Ministry of Finance, makes payments for investments and grants short-term loans to state-owned companies ; b) the Agricultural Bank of China, another special institution, controlled by the central bank, which grants long and short-term credit to state farms, agricultural producer cooperatives, assists rural credit cooperatives and collects savings deposits in rural areas; c) the Special Institute for State Investments in Semi-State Enterprises, under the control of the Ministry of Finance; d) the Bank of China, a partly private and partly state bank, to which the central bank has been entrusted with the execution of foreign currency transactions. This bank also has branches abroad; e) the bank with mixed capital, private and state, resulting from the merger of over 60 private banks, in which, alongside the old owners, elements of the public administration are employed. One third of the steering committee is made up of representatives of the state. The Chinese banking system is completed by agricultural credit cooperatives which are assisted and financed by the central bank.