Several Chinese cities, schools and government institutions have banned citizens from celebrating Christmas this year. The authorities do not want citizens to engage in “Western festivities, but with traditional Chinese culture,” writes the British newspaper “The Guardian” today.
The local authorities in the city of Langfang, in the north of China, have had all Christmas decorations collected from stores. In addition, it is forbidden for sellers to offer Christmas items. According to officials, the measure applies to “promoting stability in the city”. Also, in Changshan, in the centre of the Hunan province, the authorities do not want the inhabitants to celebrate Christmas. For example, it is forbidden in schools to hang up Christmas decorations and to give each other gifts during the Christmas period.
On the Chinese social networking site Weibo, a teacher emphasized that it is forbidden to attend Christmas parties or to spread Christmas wishes via social media. “Teachers should teach students about traditional Chinese culture and lead them to renounce overseas festivities such as Christmas,” wrote the teacher.
However, the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ notes that it is not forbidden to celebrate Christmas in all Chinese cities. For example, Chinese people can shop Christmas in Shanghai undisturbed in Shanghai and in the capital Beijing.
Traditional Chinese culture
According to the American news agency AP, the Chinese government is increasingly stubbornly opposed to Christian churches. The police fell in with a Bible study group for children in Guangzhou last week. In addition, one hundred churchgoers were arrested in Chengdu at the beginning of this month. Christianity is officially recognized in China, but religious activities are only permitted by the government in officially recognized places.
The fight against Christmas is “not an attack on Christianity”, according to several Chinese commentators. “But it is rather about how local authorities deal with the communist party’s guideline to revalue traditional Chinese culture”.
“In many other countries, the Chinese New Year is celebrated nowadays. We even see this festival as a successful export product”, writes the popular Chinese commentator Wuyue Sanren. “From the same attitude we should then also have no problem to celebrate Christmas here in China. It is a question of self-confidence. If we have faith in our own culture, we do not need to feel threatened by festivals from the West.”