Beijing: A city in northern China has banned Christmas sales and decorations to keep the city clean for an upcoming award function.
The authorities in Langfang, however, clarified the move is not targeted at Christmas.
An officially atheist country, China dissuades its people from celebrating Christmas, calling it a Western religious culture which has a wrong influence on its youth.
Christianity is one of the five recognised religions in China.
The Urban Management Bureau of Langfang in north China’s Hebei province issued a notice on Sunday that bans Christmas trees on streets, the Chinese state media reported.
Stores are not allowed to put up posters, banners or light boxes about Christmas sales. Outdoor performances to celebrate the holiday or promote sales are also prohibited.
City peddlers are forbidden from selling Christmas related items like Christmas apples, Santa costumes and stockings or Christmas trees, the Global Times said.
All bureau employees are required to be on duty from December 23 to Christmas Day to inspect Christmas-theme promotions, the notice said.
The notice, which has been circulating online, said that religious activities in public spaces such as parks and squares around Christmas must be closely monitored and reported to senior authorities.
An employee from the bureau, who demanded anonymity, told the Global Times on Monday that the action was not targeted at Christmas but was an effort to pass the annual rating of “National Civilized Cities”.
The National Civilized City award, presented every three years based on annual ratings, represents the highest honour to a city as it has strict standards in a variety of aspects, including the city’s social development, economy, infrastructure construction and public services.
“Managing roadside stalls and migrant vendors is our routine work. Christmas is a time when such illegal activities are prevalent,” the employee said, noting that retailers usually seize on the holiday to sell goods, sometimes in unlawful ways.
Last year, a Chinese university Shenyang had banned Christmas celebration on the campus.