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Sunday, 23 December 2018 21:20

CHINA Beijing, Christmas suffocated

22 Dicember 2018 - The leaders of the Chinese Communist Party yesterday ended a closed-door meeting in search of solutions to boost economic growth, crippled by the US trade war and by the general slowdown.

Xinhua reports that the government will maintain "ample liquidity" and cut taxes to ensure "reasonable" growth in the next 2019. In the third quarter of 2018, the Chinese economy grew by 6.5%, the weakest since the 2008 financial crisis.

Social stability amid economic shocks has become the most important goal of the authorities. Many Politburo meetings were dedicated to the issue of stability in 2018.

The trade war with the United States also allows an emphasis on nationalism, casting suspicions on "foreigners" and trying to cement the population against "external enemies". At the same time, greater control needs to be implemented for stability.

Both measures - nationalism and control - seem to play a role in many cities in trying to stifle the Christmas celebrations, considered a "foreign" festivity and implemented by Christians, to be subjected to strict religious regulations.

In Langfang (Hebei), a city south of the capital, the local government has banned all outward signs of Christmas  in public. According to an official document published on the web, shops and shopping centers are forbidden to decorate the windows and the interiors with Christmas trees and lights. It is also forbidden for street vendors to offer products that have any relationship with Christmas. The government document also urges citizens to bring religious events to the authorities that are held outdoors and in public.

Despite media requests, the Lanfang authorities did not want to be interviewed. The Global Times, a newspaper linked to the Communist Party, explained that Langfang is trying to improve its ranking in the campaign for the "Most Civilized City in the Country", launched by the Party's propaganda department. Rather than banish Christmas, they want the city to be "clean" and not dirtied bythe sales that take place these days.

The removal of Christmas decorations is also implemented in Xian (Shaanxi), Kunming (Yunnan) and other areas. In the past years there have been bans on celebrating Christmas in public places and in universities. The authorities never explained the reasons for this decision. It must be said that in Christmas in China, more than commercial promotion dominates the religious atmosphere. In any case, Christmas parties and ceremonies are a moment in which, out of curiosity or interest, many people come to meet Christians and ask questions about the meaning of Christmas, the moment of Christ's birth.

For this reason, different Christian personalities think that this campaign against Christmas is part of an attempt to crush the Christian religion, branded as "Western religion and as" spiritual pollution "by foreign forces.

In recent months, there have been raids against some underground Christian churches such as the Church of Zion in Beijing, that of the First Rain of the Alliance in Chengdu, Rongguili of Guangzhou. These Churches have thousands of faithful, committed to evangelization and are deeply rooted in the cities. The authorities are also committed to forcing underground Catholic groups to join the Patriotic Association and to submit to the control of the Party, also following the agreement signed between China and the Vatican.

di John Ai, Asianews


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