China continues to occupy headlines across the globe, but party officials within the Great Wall have taken little, if any, heed of international opinion. Media reports vary from anxious predictions of China’s economic rise to critical descriptions of police arrests of anyone who reveals the government’s falsehoods and offenses.
An article by the BBC predicts “Chinese economy to overtake US ‘by 2028’ due to Covid,” and the weekend briefing by the New York Times reports that a citizen journalist “who reported about the coronavirus from Wuhan during the lockdown, will face trial next week” because she “faces accusations of spreading lies” about China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Three other citizen journalists from Wuhan have recently disappeared. It brings to mind George Orwell’s depictions of the sudden disappearances of people who offend Big Brother in the despotic party state of Oceana.
Little news about China’s religious policies appears in the mainstream media, but much is happening. In addition to the notorious (but state denied) detention and re-education of Muslims in China’s northwest area of Xinjiang, and the persistent destruction of religious properties throughout the country, officials continue to support policies and campaigns aimed at controlling and eliminating Christian practice.
Recent weeks have seen processions of Chinese carrying banners that demand, “Kick Christmas out of China” (Shengdanjie gunchu Zhongguo 圣诞节滚出中国), with a leader carrying the national flag.
And, government offices now require churches to apply for permission to celebrate religious holidays such as Christmas. In the city of Wuxi, in Jiangsu, the local Catholic church was required to overcome a bewildering array of bureaucratic hurdles to receive permission to host a Christmas gathering. The certificate (image below), which finally granted the church permission to celebrate Christmas, reveals the byzantine administrative procedures that the pastor had to confront before his congregation was allowed to celebrate Christ’s birth – eleven red state seals were required before the gathering was approved.
Meanwhile, China’s city of Yiwu, known as “Christmas Town,” continues to produce much of the world’s Christmas decorations that adorn homes throughout the world. But while Yiwu’s tinsel and ornament factories crank out holiday cheer for export, China’s Christians are greeted with anti-Christmas processions and cumbersome bureaucratic paperwork that closes many church doors, even as trees beside the entrance remain illuminated with hopes for a better future for Christians.
In China, many faithful herald the agonized words of Lin Zhao, a prominent Christian woman who was executed during the Cultural Revolution after criticizing Chairman Mao’s policies. “As I silently rub the drops of blood on the wall, I can only find the right words when I think of that merciful and just God who is so far away, and yet so close.”
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!