By John Hayward
2018 brought one of China’s worst crackdowns on religion, from the astonishing persecution of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province to a series of raids against “underground” Christian churches.
Some Chinese cities banned Christmas decorations and celebrations in an effort to establish the primacy of the communist government and stoke the fires of nationalism at the height of a trade war with the United States.
The South China Morning Post found this Christmas less “cheerful and bustling than other years” in China:
Christmas decorations reportedly have been banned in at least four cities this year, including Langfang, about 55km (34 miles) south of Beijing, where shop windows were stripped of Christmas stickers and streets were kept free of Christmas banners and lights.
The seasonal humbug follows similar outbreaks of anti-Christmas rhetoric in 2014 and 2017. It appears not to be centrally organized, but rather a spreading resistance to foreign festivals by local authorities seeking to align themselves with a changing outlook in the Chinese government.
The capital itself seems free from such bans, though. As a South China Morning Postreporter found, people were continuing to mark Christmas across the sprawling metropolis in ways both commercial and religious, though for the most part Christmas has largely continued to be a shopping festival in Beijing and other cities.
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