Christmas celebrations banned at Chinese University
This week, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University in northeast China banned all Christmas celebrations. The University’s Communist Youth League reportedly released a notice online on Monday stating that student organizations would not be allowed to hold any activities celebrating the Western religious holidays. Their reasons included the statement that the influence of Western culture has led to some students being “blindly excited about about western holidays,” and the ban will help them “build cultural confidence.”
While Christmas is not a nationally recognized holiday in China, many people there still use the day to go out with friends or form their own traditions, sometimes making use of typical Western Christmas celebrations or decorations.
This is not the first time a Chinese university has put a ban like this in place. Last year, Northwest University's Modern College in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province also banned Christmas celebrations, as did many schools in Wenzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province in 2014.
It seems that these bans stem from a desire to stop or slow the influence of Western celebrations and religious holidays on Chinese youth. Under president Xi Jinping, there have been some complaints about an “ideological tightening,” in regards to these bans and other areas, such as academia.
Earlier this fall, Cambridge University published articles about some sensitive issues such as relations with Tibet and the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, and was subsequently asked by Chinese authorities to remove them. Academics then launched a petition to repost the articles, saying that the publishing house shouldn’t get to hinder access to that information. The University did repost them, risking more conflict with the Chinese authorities.
The age-old debate over academic freedom appears to connect with this week’s struggle over Christmas celebrations. As seen in the episode with Cambridge, China’s “ideological tightening” has already caused conflict with with other international institutions. It is yet to be determined if students at the University choose to act out against this ban or express dissenting opinions.