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Chinese city bans Christmas, leading to fear of religious monitoring

by Cara Bentley

Langfang is a city between Beijing and Tianjin in Hebei province whose officials have issued a ban on festive decorations and sales of Christmas-themed items, saying they are going for a clean streets and environment award. 

However, the decision is suspected to have a darker tone as on social media they also appealed to the public to report anyone "spreading religion" in parks and squares during this period.

This comes at the end of a year in which there has been harsh action taken against both registered and unregistered churches in China, with large protestant congregations having members detained and registered churches experiencing increasing levels of surveillance, such as CCTV cameras in church buildings. 

In Langfang, anyone selling Christmas trees, wreaths, stockings or Father Christmas merchandise in the city could be punished and members of the local law enforcement are not allowed to take days off from 23rd-25th December to 'maintain stability.'

Further south in the country in Henan province state-sanctioned Christian associations issued a notice to churches requesting non-Christians to not take part in the celebrations. Decorations for churches also cannot have religious elements in them. 

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