Beijing’s hatred for religious believers is a well-known phenomenon. Every year, the communist regime implements policies aimed at restricting Christians from observing their annual Christmas celebrations. This year too, Beijing has been severe in its crackdown on Christmas festivities.
In regions like Yunnan, Shandong, Guizhou, and Sichuan, authorities have asked house churches to not hold any events in celebration of Christmas. The ban is said to be only applicable to churches that have not joined the Communist Party-approved “Three-Self Patriotic Association,” an organization that oversees the activities of protestant groups in the country.
“We are afraid to meet in public [because such meetings] have been designated illegal gatherings… We can’t do Christmas this year; we can’t have any activities at Christmas… We celebrated it a few days ago in different groups, whereas in the past we were able to celebrate it with thousands of people coming together,” a pastor from Shandong said to Radio Free Asia.
Another church in Nanyang City was shut down by authorities. However, the believers never stopped praying to their God and they continued to hold small gatherings at each other’s homes. A pastor from Guangzhou admitted that restrictions on Christmas celebrations have been placed on his church and that the shopping malls in the region did not adorn themselves with Christmas decorations.
A property management company in Yunnan issued a notice to local businesses, warning them not to celebrate Christmas as it is not a “Chinese festival.” In some counties, the administration has banned Christmas celebrations and events at schools. Members of the Communist Party are banned from observing Christmas. The Party calls the celebration “spiritual opium.” The idea that Christmas needs to be restricted in the country since it is not of Chinese origin is something that has been severely criticized by many Chinese Christians.
“There are government, business, and school executives who order that we should no longer celebrate Christmas, in deference to the flag of Chinese culture and civilization. But should Chinese culture and civilization reject other cultures and civilizations? If all nations care only about their own cultures and civilizations, how can cultural integration take place, through exchanges between different cultures?” a priest writes in Asia News.
British supermarket chain Tesco recently suspended the production of Christmas cards at a factory in China after it came to light that the production unit was using forced labor. The incident came to the attention of the company after a 6-year-old girl from South London discovered a plea for help in a box of charity Christmas cards. The message was apparently written by a group of foreign prisoners from the Shanghai Qingpu prison and asked the potential reader to notify human rights organizations.
It also asked the reader to contact Peter Humphrey, an ex-journalist who had spent 23 months in the same prison. “I felt very shocked but also felt a responsibility to pass it on to Peter Humphrey as the author asked me to do… It hits home. There are injustices in the world and there are people in difficult situations and we know about that and we read about that each and every day. There is something about that message hitting home at Christmas… that really does make it very poignant and very powerful,” the girl’s dad said to the BBC.
Similar incidents have occurred in the past. In 2017, a girl from Essex found a note in a Christmas card with a message that wished her good luck and happiness. The note was from a prisoner in Guangzhou.