China’s war on Christmas “spreads a rhetoric of hate and division,” jeopardizing religious liberty and indoctrinating children, writes Peter den Hartog in the South China Morning Post Saturday.
A Christian himself, den Hartog says it was “hurtful and heartbreaking” to receive videos circulated on WeChat “depicting schoolchildren in China denouncing the celebration of Christmas, claiming it was a ‘Westerners’ festival’ and that it was ‘a shame’ for Chinese to celebrate the holiday.”
The “anti-Christmas campaign” waged by China’s communist party spreads hatred, threatens religious freedom, and indoctrinates children to “feud against other cultures in the name of nationalism, which can result in catastrophic consequences,” he writes.
“The truth is neither Taiwan, nor Hong Kong, nor the rest of the world are interfering in the internal affairs of China,” den Hartog insists. “The truth is that China is not facing up to legitimate concerns about the freedom of speech, and its use of rule by law instead of rule of law.”
This Christmas has been “extraordinary” for Hong Kong, den Hartog writes, “which is in the midst of a political storm.” The new year will be a time for reconciliation between the government and the protesters for a new start, he says, and “brighter days still lie ahead.”
Getting down to brass tacks, den Hartog writes that what really concerns people is Beijing’s hardline approach to governance that seeks to control everything.
“What worries people most is the authoritarian rule of the Communist Party that dictates to society,” he writes. “It might work in Macau and for the time being in mainland China, but in the end not for Taiwan, Hong Kong or Xinjiang.”
“If ‘one country’ is to survive, Beijing has to recognise the different DNAs within its territories,” he insists.
“In this day and age, a firewall blocking information does not work any more,” he states. “Let’s not get back to the Mao age, but try to truly engage with the real world. This means being more open.”
“Why be a secretive society if you have got nothing to hide?” he concludes.