Officials order removal of all Christmas display, decorations and references
A city has banned all public celebrations of Christmas to avoid “spreading Christianity” and ordered the removal of all festive displays, decorations, and references from public view to keep the streets “clean.”
Residents in Langfang, a city near Beijing, China will no longer be able to carry out any related religious activities, in what is the latest attempt to clamp down on Christians in the region.
Residents in the city, with a population more than four million people, were informed of the new Christmas ban with a paper notice.
The notice, which quickly went viral on China’s most popular social media platform Weibo, gives a list of activities that people in Langfang are banned from doing during the festive period.
The directive, believed to have been issued by the Langfang Urban Management and Law Enforcement Bureau, hits residents and businesses equally.
The order also forbids stores from putting up displays or exhibiting images of Santa Claus and bans them from selling Christmas decoration and trees to the public, who are also banned from buying them.
The regulation also doesn’t allow local shops to run sales or carry out any promotional events during the festive period and says any billboards or banners related to Christmas will be removed by authorities.
Officials issued a blood-chilling warning to street vendors selling Christmas trees, stockings, and decorations, stating that they will be the subject of a “total cleanup.”
According to Chinese outlet, the Global Times, the directive also demands that residents must report anyone they see “spreading religion” in public to the authorities.
Teams of law enforcement officers will be deployed to the city’s streets, patrolling from December 23 to Christmas Day to “control” any acts of defiance against the directive.
A Chinese city near Beijing recently bans Christmas trees on streets, Christmas sales posters and banners, and outdoor performances. But local govt says it is to maintain a clean city environment for an upcoming awards competition. https://t.co/SWNKM9Lc5K pic.twitter.com/X8uz1URLib
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) December 17, 2018
The move comes as Christians in China have seen their freedom to practice their religion contunuely undermined in recent years.
Police have been ripping down crosses from churches and arresting priests and members of the congregation, especially in the Zhejiang province, southeast of Beijing.
Posters of Jesus Christ have been torn down and replaced with pictures of China’s President Xi Jinping.
On December 9 protestant pastor Wang Yi was said to have been taken by police and state security officials along with dozens of churchgoers.
Despite the Chinese Constitution granting religious freedom for citizens, the Communist Party has announced plans to eradicate “differences” between Chinese communities across the nation.
The new policy aims for each and every town to practice “Chinese characteristics” and uphold traditional Chinese beliefs and traditions.
In April, China’s religious affairs department published an article stating that all churches in the country must follow the ruling party’s orders to be “Sinicized” – made more Chinese.
The article said: “Only Sinicized churches can obtain God’s love.”
As part of the Government’s “Principle for Promoting Chinese Christianity in China for the Next Five Years (2018-2022)” agenda, officials want to implement “Sincization” across the country.