A leaked document reveals that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has ordered restrictions on Christmas celebrations including in worship places, terming Christmas a “forbidden Western celebration.”
While the directive cites a surge in Covid-19 cases, it also urged implementation of the policy of Sinicization that strictly forbids celebration of Western culture and festivals, reports Bitter Winter, a magazine on human rights and religious liberty.
However, the order also suggests some “cosmetic” celebrations of Christmas by state-sanctioned churches to be photographed and broadcast to show there are no restrictions.
The media outlet said it had obtained a copy of the Chinese-language document and translated it. Authorities allegedly intended to keep it a secret to avoid any criticism in the West.
The document, dated Dec. 20, was issued by the Department of Education of Rong’an county in Liuzhou city of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and addressed to all elementary schools and kindergartens. It is titled “Spreading the Chinese traditional culture and forbidding Western festival celebrations.”
“The day ‘Christmas’ or ‘Holy Night,’ which is coming, is imbued with deep Western religious culture. Some Western nations rely on their advanced technology and culture to spread their values and lifestyle in China, attracting our young people. Some business enterprises also want to take advantages of this celebration for business, so they create the surrounding feeling and social impact of this Western ‘feast.’ This is damaging our traditional Chinese culture,” it reads.
Thus, the Department of Education decided to “prohibit teachers and students from organizing any celebration event of this Western festival. We trust all teachers and students in school, especially but not limited to [Communist] Party members, will follow and obey the rule from the CCP Central Committee, thus becoming a model of spreading Chinese culture.”
The directive also said a special officer has been designated at the County Public Security Bureau to handle complaints regarding the matter and urged people to contact the authorities immediately if anyone finds individuals and organizations arranging any Christmas event.
Communist China is an officially atheist state. However, it recognizes the legal entity of five organized religions — Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam. The government strictly controls all religions and religious activities through various state-sanctioned bodies, while unregistered religious bodies have faced a crackdown for years.
Under the rule of current President Xi Jinping, the CCP leadership has adopted draconian policies to tighten control on religions and punish anyone who violates official norms for religions and religious bodies.
The 2018 regulations on religious affairs criminalize any religious activity deemed illegal and unauthorized by the state.
The communist regime has also made strong efforts to implement the policy of Sinicization, a profoundly political ideology that aims to impose strict rules on societies and institutions based on the core values of socialism, autonomy and supporting the leadership of the CCP.
US-based Christian group Open Doors ranks China 17th among 50 countries where Christians face severe forms of persecution.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.