Although China may have an official policy in favor of atheism, a large proportion of Chinese citizens are religious:
No more than 15 percent of adults in the world’s most populous country are “real atheists.” 85 percent of the Chinese either hold some religious beliefs or practice some kind of religion, according to the Chinese Spiritual Life Survey.
Members of the Chinese Communist Party and Youth League are required to be atheists, yet 17 percent of them self-identified with a religion and 65 percent indicated they had engaged in religious practices in the last year, reported sociologist Fenggang Yang of Purdue University, a lead researcher in the project.
The notion of China as a secular nation with little or no religion is “silly,” said sociologist Rodney Stark of Baylor University, another principal investigator…
In a nation with few sources of independent data on religion, the spiritual life survey represents one of the best pictures to date of the Chinese religious landscape. The 2007 survey involved a random national sample of 7,021 people ages 16 and older in 56 locales throughout mainland China.
The results find a middle ground between the official government figure of 100 million religious believers and extreme projections of growth that estimate the number of Christians has become as high as 130 million.
Interesting findings. You can look at the dataset here.
How exactly these religious beliefs among the people come into conflict with the official governmental policy would be interesting to explore within this data.