For the first time in more than 50 years, China's communist government is allowing two new churches to be built in the capital, Beijing.

The official newspaper, China Daily, says construction is already under way. It says both of the 1,500 square meter churches will be completed by next Christmas (in late December).

In addition, the newspaper says there are plans to renovate two ancient temples, one Buddhist and one Taoist.

Beijing has 17 churches. The communist government allows Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Taoists to worship only at officially sanctioned locations.

This policy has resulted in many so-called underground religious groups that boast millions of worshippers.