Christmas linked to China’s past humiliation by foreign invaders in speech to primary schoolchildren
- Festival a ‘burning shame’ to Chinese people, principal tells pupils
- Public disagrees, forcing post praising the speech off social media within 24 hours
A speech to primary schoolchildren linking Christmas with China’s invasion by foreign powers more than a century ago has backfired, fuelling public anger against recent official moves to boycott the festival.
Dong Xuefeng, head of the Huangwei Township Central School in Sixian County, Anhui province, told a school gathering on Monday that Christmas was a disgrace to the Chinese people because of past humiliations inflicted on the nation by mostly Christian invaders.
The county’s publicity bureau issued a transcript of Dong’s speech on the microblogging service Weibo on Tuesday, but deleted it on Wednesday morning, after it went viral overnight.
“Do you know where all this Christmas, Christmas Eve and carnival stuff comes from? It has brought a burning shame to Chinese people,” Dong said, before asking the children to refuse to take part in Christmas celebrations.
According to the deleted Weibo post, Dong’s speech went on to give a lesson on China’s past humiliation by Westerners, beginning with the burning of the Old Summer Palace and looting of national treasures by Anglo-French troops in 1860.
He went on to refer to the crimes of the eight-nation alliance which invaded China in 1900.
“Except for the Japanese, all of them were Christians. The crimes they conducted in China were too numerous to record,” Dong said, according to the transcript.
The school also arranged for a student to deliver a speech reminding schoolmates that the day following Christmas marked the anniversary of China’s revolutionary leader Mao Zedong’s birth, which “should be the festival for Chinese to celebrate”.
The publicity bureau applauded the speeches, saying in its post that through such education, children would “establish correct values and treat foreign culture in the right way”.
“In recent years, Western festivals such as Christmas have been popular among school students. Some young students follow the trend blindly, which contradicts school education about patriotism and traditional culture,” it said.
Before it was taken down, the topic had attracted more than 5 million views, sparking fierce criticism for its linking of the celebration of a religious festival to China’s past sufferings.
Many noted the pointlessness of the exercise, as many aspects of life in China today have been adopted from the West – including weekends and white bridal gowns.
“This is stupid. We started reforming and opening up 40 years ago and yet such ideas still exist,” commented one user.
“This is classic cultural inferiority,” said another.
Local authorities across China, especially educational institutions, have discouraged celebrations of Western festivals in recent years, fearing “cultural intrusion” as they have gained in popularity.
In some areas shops have been banned from putting on Christmas displays and related sales, though for the most part Christmas has largely continued to be a shopping festival in Beijing and other cities.
Though students in some areas have also been restricted to campus to prevent them from taking part in any Christmas-related activities.