For the first time in more than half a century, two Christian churches are being built in China's capital city, the People's Daily news website reported yesterday. It is the first time that new churches have been built in the city since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. Construction started in December and both churches are to be finished by Christmas 2004, according to the Beijing Religious Bureau. The two new Protestant churches aim to cater to the needs of Beijing's growing Christian community. Beijing now has around 30,000 Protestants, a figure which has increased strongly over past decades. One of the churches will be located in Chaoyang District, the other will be in Fengtai District in southwestern Beijing. Both of the churches are 1,500 sq m in size and each will accommodate about 1,500 worshippers. They will cost 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million). China's Protestant population grew from more than 100 in 1840 to 10 million in 1997, when there were estimated to be more than 12,000 Protestant churches across China. Beijing currently has 17 official Catholic churches and eight Protestant churches.
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