Chinese official media dismisses alleged Christmas crackdown

Photo: Business Insider

Chinese official tabloid Global Times has dismissed claims that Beijing had launched crackdowns on Christmas activities, saying that some western media had "gone too far" in reporting the matter.

The New York Times last week reported that the authorities in Langfang, North China's Hebei Province, had banned on all Christmas displays on streets and in stores.

"The official notice orders employees to do a sweep of shopping malls and streets on December 23, 24, and 25 to make sure that there are no Christmas decorations," said the newspaper.

"Those who are found to use parks and other open spaces to spread religion will be monitored closely and reported to higher authorities."

Officials in at least four Chinese cities and one county have ordered restrictions on Christmas decorations, with at least ten schools asked to limit their celebrations, reported The Associated Press (AP).

Those reports sparked concerns that Beijing has waged a war on foreign cultures and religions amid tensions with the US over trade tariffs.

In a public response, the Global Times said in a Sunday commentary that Langfang's move was just part of efforts to crack down upon illegal peddlers and to win the title of "National Civilized city" which the newspaper described as" the highest honor to a city", rather than a Christmas ban.

"This is not targeted at Christmas. It is a routine for urban management officers to regulate roadside stalls and migrant vendors who often occupy bike lanes and even motorways mostly without legal business licenses," said the Global Times.

The newspaper also stressed that keeping religious activities out of public areas not only exists in China, but also is common practice in many western countries.

"People do not resist excellent western culture in present-day China," the Global Times said.

This is not the first time that Beijing has been slammed for alleged Christmas bans.

According to media reports, Hengyang, Central China's Hunan Province, released a notice Last December asking Communist Party officials not to celebrate Christmas. Last year, the China Communist Youth League in Anhui wrote on social media that "Christmas is China's day of shame" and reminiscent of the country's semi-colonial history and invasion of the West.

Like many other Asian countries, China does not install Christmas as a public holiday. People in the country tend to celebrate the Christian festival for fun, or to encourage customers to go shopping.

Though being an atheist state under the leadership of the Communist Party, China allows religious practices in accordance to the Constitution, despite tight supervision from the government to preempt any challenges to its communist ideology.

The major religions practiced in China are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism, totaling nearly 200 million believers and over 380,000 clerical personnel, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

It is estimated that there are 72 million to 92 million Christians in the country, the second-largest faith group after Chinese Buddhists, according to US-based NGO Freedom House.

The reason for religious restrictions, Beijing claims, is that some "foreign religions" such as Catholicism and Protestantism have "long been controlled and utilized by colonialists and imperialists."


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