12/18/2018 China (International Christian Concern) – Officials in Langfang, Hebei province have issued a ban on festive decorations and retail sales of related items during Christmas. The official notice circulated on social media also appealed to the public to report anyone “spreading religion” in parks and squares during this period.
Anyone caught selling Christmas trees, wreaths, stockings or Santa Claus figures in the city would be punished, while members of the local law enforcement are not allowed to take days off from December 23 to 25 in order to ‘maintain stability.’
In addition, the state-sanctioned Christian associations in Henan province also issued a notice to churches requesting non-Christians, non-members, and minors not to partake in the celebration. Decorations for churches cannot have religious element in them and cannot exceed 2000 RMB (approximately 290 USD).
While Christmas is not an official holiday in China, it has gained popularity in recent years. However, after President Xi Jinping came to power, the Chinese government began to get wary about this ‘Western holiday’ with its roots in Christianity and western values. The ban of Christmas also comes amid intensified crackdown on underground churches.
Patrick Poon, Amnesty International’s China researcher, said in an interview that “the authorities in Langfang might want to show how much they are ready to please the central government by banning Christmas decorations and sales. However, it also shows their ignorance about what Christmas really means for Christians, which is not about shopping or party celebrations but it’s the time to manifest their faith.”
For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: email@example.com.