While the atheist, communist Chinese government cracks down on Christians domestically, the country profits heavily from Christmas decorations exported to the United States.
The Chinese government exported approximately $1.1 billion in Christmas tree ornaments to the United States in the first nine months of the year, accounting for 92% of all decorations imported by American firms.
The Chinese monopoly over Christmas decoration exports also includes Christmas lights; 87% of all imported Christmas lights originated from China, netting the communist government approximately $346 million.
Despite reaping large profits from Christmas-related exports to the United States, the ruling communist elite routinely suppress Chinese citizens who practice Christianity.
Earlier this year, the ruling Communist Party imposed severe restrictions on Chinese Christians, banning them from traveling abroad for religious purposes and implementing draconian requirements for home churches. Police raids targeting pastors, shadowing of parishioners and the tearing down of crosses are commonplace as well.
Many educated and young Chinese living in major cities exchange gifts and decorate their home despite the communist government’s official aversion to Christmas.
Official government census records set the number of Christians in China at 28 million, or 2% of the county’s population; most believe the number to be higher, as many Chinese likely fear persecution for openly proclaiming one’s faith.
Christianity has a long history in China, dating back to the first documented visit by Christian missionaries in 635 AD. A stone tablet, the Nestorian Tele, claims the first Christians were allowed to establish places of worship in the capital of Xi’an by Tang Dynasty Emperor Taizong.
Following the communist victory over the nationalists, and their subsequent retreat to Taiwan, in the Chinese Civil War, the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association was founded to give the government direct supervision over the country’s catholics.
Similar state-run organizations were founded for protestants (the Three-Self Patriotic Movement) and Muslims (the Islamic Association of China).
The Chinese government has reserved much of its animosity for practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that focuses heavily on meditation and a series of exercises known as Qigong.
On July 20, 1999, following rising tensions with the government, Chinese security forces arrested thousands of Falun Gong leaders and outlawed the organization. Practicing Falun Gong in public was banned, as was possessing any related materials, symbols, or banners; even protesting the ban was outlawed.
Since the ban, hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been arrested and jailed without trial, forced to endure torture and forced labor. Many others have been killed and their organs harvested by the Chinese government.