By Oiwan Lam
A number of Chinese Communist Party provincial headquarters have issued notices forbidding their members from celebrating Western festivals. These include Valentine’s Day, Easter, April Fool’s day, Halloween and, most recently, Christmas. In preparation for this holiday season, media outlets have also been instructed not to report any news related to Christmas, a celebration that the party feels is an unwanted reminder of China’s historical humiliation by the West.
The movement against Western festivals emerged about a decade ago and was led by a group of contemporary Confucian scholars against a “Western cultural invasion”. Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping has embraced this idea of a national cultural revival.
In January 2017, the General Office under the CPC Central Committee and the State Council jointly issued a high-level report titled “Suggestions on the implementation of projects to promote and develop traditional Chinese culture excellence”. The report outlines a cultural revival project that combines Confucian values with the single-party political system which aims to rebuild the Chinese people’s cultural confidence.
This year, the anti-Christmas campaign has been marked by the circulation of an article that recites the history of Western military invasions in China during the First and Second World War, arguing that Christmas is a festival which represents Chinese humiliation.
The article defines the Christmas celebration as a religious practice:
It can be understood that young people love chasing after unconventional and popular cultures and the business sector wants to make money from Western festivals. But for CCP members and officials, they should not follow the trend as the issue is a matter of political belief and practice.
All these Western festivals have religious backgrounds and should be considered to be a part of religious practice.
It also argues that the popularity of Western festivals is a form of cultural invasion that members of the CCP should not be taking part in:
Moreover, festivals are the embodiment of the value of a national culture. Every nationality has its festival heritage which brings the nation together.
If a nationality is so keen on celebrating other nations’ festivals, the phenomena is indicative of a very serious cultural invasion. If party members and officials are not aware of this, they have lost their political sensitivities and progressiveness.
The article recites the history of the Eight-Nation Alliance to argue that Christmas is a festival of Chinese humiliation. The international military alliance was formed in reaction to the Boxer Movement in China which took place between 1899 and 1900. Supported by the Qing government, the Boxers attacked and killed foreign missionaries, nationals and Chinese Christians across northern China. The conflicts led to the invasion, occupation and looting of Peking in 1900.
Many party members said that they have received notification from CCP branches in universities or state corporations, informing them that they should not take part in Christmas celebrations. On Twitter, @szshu shared the news about CCP’s Western festival ban:
— 圳叔? (@szshu) December 22, 2017
Local media outlets have also received censorship instruction. According to China Digital Times, the directive issued last week stated: “Media must not report news related to Christmas. New media platforms of all levels, do not forward posts related to the ‘foreign holiday’ topic.” (December 22, 2017)
On Weibo, one of China’s most popular social media platforms, some agreed with the CCP’s Christmas ban:
However, others mocked the ban:
This article originally appeared on Global Voices.