Beijing — During 2020, as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) increased restrictions on Christmas celebrations that city churches hosted, authorities required official churches to secure approval from several departments to hold Christmas activities. On December 20, Taihu Catholic Church in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nanjing in Wuxi City, Jiangsu submitted a request to the local government authorities to host three Christmas events on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The approval process required reviews by 11 CCP departments.
On December 24, the approved application form for the Taihu Catholic Church revealed a total of 12 red seals. Authorities limited the number of people permitted to attend the events to 250.
The CCP had banned the Beijing Catholic Church of the Savior, also known as the Xishiku Church, from opening on Christmas Eve. Authorities had stationed armed security guards wearing black uniforms to barricade the church’s entrance and prevent parishioners from entering.
In addition to the vast display of the CCP’s increased control in front of Xishiku Church, China’s complicated, challenging process to obtain approval for hosting Christmas events, according to some netizens appears to send the following warning. “If you want to celebrate Christmas-you have to get past us first.”
Cai Xia, a professor who recently resigned from her position as principal of the Central Party School, asserts: “These [Christmas regulations] are anti-humanity and anti-civilization. This deprives people of their right and freedom to religious belief. It is extremely crude and barbaric. Moreover, Xi Jinping is not even trying to conceal the naked truth that he wants to manipulate the decline of citizens’ spiritual culture, to become uncivilized….”
During the 2020 Christmas season, CCP authorities operated the party’s schedule as usual and permitted restaurants on the streets to open for business. Officials closed Beijing churches, however, in the name of the COVID-19 outbreak.
CCP authorities not only restricted Catholic Christmas activities during 2020, they threatened and harassed citizens celebrating Christmas in West and Southwest China as well. ChinaAid reported the following related stories.
Christmas Eve: Chengdu and Xiamen police interrupt Christmas Eve
Despite it being Christmas Eve, on December 24, Chengdu police raided the home of Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) member Brother Xiao and on that same day, Xiamen police interrupted and disbanded a Christmas Eve concert at Xiamen Wanda Plaza. Christians posted two distinct responses to these two harassing events.
On December 25, Christmas Day, the day after police raided the houses of several Christians on Christmas Eve, including the home of Brother Xiao Luobiao, a member of ERCC posted a prayer request that Christians pray for the violated members. At approximately 7 pm, to prevent Brother Xio and his family from “attending” ERCC’s online service, Chengdu police forcibly entered their home.
Using their cell phones during their home invasion, police photographed Brother Xiao and his wife, Sister Chen Yan, When Sister Chen used her cell phone to photograph police, however, several officers became physically combative. Police officer Lin, badge ID 007485, appeared especially aggressive. Although pregnant, Sister Chen initially resisted police attempts to confiscate her phone. Later, after police deleted photos Sister Chen had made of them, they returned her phone.
At approximately 11 pm on Christmas Eve, Pastor Yang Xibo of Xiamen Xunsiding Church posted on Facebook that at the mid-point of a Christmas Eve concert at Xiamen Wanda Plaza, police had questioned two of the scheduled Christian singers. At 8:10 pm, several religious affairs bureau officials and security agents commandeered the concert and transported two Christian singers to the police station. After interrogating the singers, authorities released them at 11 pm.
At the time of the police disruption, a spokesperson on stage announced, “At this time, today’s concert must end.” Security staff then directed those in the audience to leave.
Some concert attendees complained to police: “Doesn’t China say we have religious freedom? How could this happen? Nothing wrong happened in the program. Why did you stop the concert?
One grandmother holding her grandson, frustrated that police had stopped the concert, but thankful for getting to attend part of it, said, “It was a great concert. I was moved.”
Demonstrations proclaiming: “Christmas—get out of China”
Before Christmas 2020, numerous groups of “Pro-Mao” citizens demonstrated in streets throughout China proclaiming anti-Christmas messages, similar to the one in the above picture stating: “Christmas—get out of China.” With the Chinese Communist Party’s current crackdown on human rights, if officials had not approved or “backed” these types of demonstrations, authorities would have immediately suppressed them to “maintain stability,” and detained or severely sentenced the organizers.
At some universities this Christmas season, CCP authorities not only prohibited students from celebrating Christmas, they also banned them from attending off-campus events. Some officials even warned students that they would punish them for buying and eating apples.
One university issued the following two official notifications:
- Students must remain on campus from December 24 to December 25. The head of each dorm should collect information regarding each person twice a day, at 7 pm and 9 pm.
- In line with our country’s [China’s] protocol, students and faculty members should resist foreign holidays. On December 24 and 25, no one is allowed to buy or eat apples. Any person caught doing so will be penalized.
While expounding on the university’s anti-Christmas notification and reminding students that authorities continually keep them on the radar, a counselor added the conspicuous request: Please change your WeChat profile picture if it shows someone wearing a Christmas hat [or displays any other Christmas symbol].