This is a sociological and historical analysis of the conflict between the state and the Catholic Church in China between 1949 and 2001 during half of a century of the socialist regime. The relationship began with conflict, followed by accomodation and finally a cooperative spirit had developed for a complex web of political and diplomatic reasons. Never in the past the Catholic Church has shown a rigorous growth under the encouragement of the Communist Party to shape the Church in the image of a indigenous and local church and to minimize the influence of the Vatican. There remains a persistent struggle between the underground church, those who remain loyal to early missionaries and to the Holy See, and the official national church controlled by the Party/State. The authors argue that there is hope that the conflict will eventually disappear as the new leadership in Beijing may one day restore a diplomatic relationship with the Vatican.