While Christmas was celebrated as usual in much of the world, Santa needed to be selective about which chimney he wiggled down in China. He is persona non grata according to many Chinese authorities, but has at least one very important fan among regime officials.
Christmas was marked by news from around China of attempts by officials to suppress celebration of the holiday.
For example, the educational bureau in Wenzhou City of southeastern Zhejiang Province issued a directive to all local schools, including kindergartens, not to host any Christmas-related activity or celebration, reported the Chinese regime mouthpiece Xinhua Net on Dec. 25.
For the students at Northwest University, located in Xi’an City, the capital of northwest Shaanxi Province, propaganda films were their Christmas Eve and Christmas Day entertainment. Watching the films was mandatory, and school authorities did not allow the students to leave the campus until Dec. 26, reported the Chinese Internet portal Sina.
“The school has a lockdown beginning at 7 p.m. (on Dec. 25). In addition, students who have been given permission to leave earlier cannot leave,” a security guard was quoted as saying. “The purpose is to forbid students from celebrating Christmas.”
On school campuses, banners could be seen with the words “Defending Against the Expansion of Western Culture” and “Becoming Proud Chinese Sons and Daughters, Opposing Kitsch Western Holidays.”
— AaronZhou (@Aaronzhou) December 25, 2014
“Beijing has just established diplomatic ties with the Vatican. So it is taking precautionary measures to eliminate any influence the Vatican might have inside China,” Hua Po, a political commentator in Beijing, told Epoch Times. “The regime is trying to reduce any impact religion might have on the Chinese regime.”
“Now, there are so many house churches in China. This has put a lot of pressure on the Chinese regime, for it cannot control them. So this year, the Chinese regime has stepped up pressure to ban Christmas celebrations,” said Hua.
Eliminating the Influence of Christianity
Wang Zuo’an, the director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, visited a Beijing church on Christmas Eve.
He used the occasion to call for a “firm determination against any foreign influence through Christianity,” according to a report in the state-run Chinanews.com on Dec. 25.
According to Wang, Christians must find common values between the teachings of Christianity and the core values of socialism. Wang’s office decides which churches in China are legal and may remain open.
On Christmas Day, Wang also took to the pages of Huanqiu, a People’s Daily publication, with an opinion piece denouncing the religious comments made by the celebrity actor Sun Haiying, who won best supporting actor at the 15th Shanghai International Film Festival in 2001.
According to the article, Sun defamed the Chinese regime and Mao Zedong by spreading the ideology and values of the United States with comments like “You only know it after you are a believer of Christ,” posted on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
There has also been an ongoing campaign in some areas in China to remove crosses or demolish church buildings. For instance, The Associated Press reported on Dec. 25 that authorities in Zhejiang Province had removed crosses from 400 churches, some just before Christmas, and demolished several church buildings.
Given that atheism is essential to the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party, and given the fact that the CCP committed mass murders against Christians, Taoists, and Buddhists during the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese regime’s censorship of Christmas, and suppression of independent churches, is hardly a surprise.
Top Chinese Leader Greets Santa
Yet, despite the steps taken by the Chinese regime’s officialdom to stifle the Christmas spirit, someone in Chinese regime officialdom had a high-profile meeting with Santa.
Xi Jinping, the leader of Chinese Communist Party, appears in a series of photos with Santa, posted on Weibo’s Liyuan Fans’ Page on Dec. 25, with the headline “2015 is upon us after six more days of ringing jingle bells. Let’s have a wish for the year 2015.” The Liyuan referred to is Peng Liyuan, the wife of Xi.
One of the photos shows Xi accepting a wrapped gift from Santa, with another showing the two shaking hands with a huge smile on Xi’s face.
Xi secures agreement to rebrand Christmas as Celebrate China Dream Patriotic Education Study Day (CCDPESD for short). pic.twitter.com/sePaZe8ErT
— Chris Buckley 储百亮 (@ChuBailiang) December 25, 2014
Chinese netizens have reacted with much interest to the pictures of Xi enjoying the holiday with Santa.
A netizen with the pseudonym “Gui-Ling-Xin-Tu” asked in a blog post, “I wonder if those 50 Cent Army members will change their stances after having said that Christmas is a form of western infiltration.” The 50 Cent Army is a group of online commentators hired by the Chinese regime to make comments on the Internet favorable to the regime.
A netizen with the moniker “Tao-Sheng-Yi-Ran-07” asked on Weibo, “Xi took a picture of himself with Santa. There are banners on the side of the road calling for boycotting Christmas. What does that mean? I don’t understand.”