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Construction of Christian Theme Park Draws Wide Criticism on Chinese Social Media

The construction of a 150,000-square-meter Christian theme park in the capital of Hunan has sparked controversy on Chinese social media. Many netizens think a religious park does not belong in the home province of Mao Zedong – especially not when funded by the local government.

Manya Koetse

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The construction of a 150,000-square-meter Christian theme park in the capital of Hunan has sparked controversy on Chinese social media. Many netizens think a religious park does not belong in the home province of Mao Zedong – especially not when funded by the local government.

A so-called “Christian Theme Park” (教会主题公园) in Changsha has sparked controversy on Chinese social media. The park, located in the Changsha Xingsha Ecological Park, is called “the biggest Christian theme park in southern China” (中南地区最大的教会主题公园), but is likely the only one of its sort in the entire nation. It opened its doors during the Spring Festival.

According to the China Christian Daily, the park covers an area of approximately 150,000 square meters (15 hectares) and one of its highlights is the 80-meter high Xingsha Church. The park is also home to the Hunan Bible Institute.

On social media, from WeChat to Weibo, the opening of the park has triggered controversy. Changsha is the capital city of Mao Zedong’s home province Hunan, and the park is allegedly sponsored by the local government.

 

“Religion has grown too fast in recent years in China, which has led to friction and conflict.”

 

Chinese state tabloid Global Times criticized the project in a post on February 6, writing:

“No matter what you say, this Changsha park has triggered controversy that should be taken seriously by all authorities. Besides protecting historical religious buildings, we should be very cautious about new religiously themed buildings at tourist spots. Ask around if it is a good idea or not, look up the legislation and policies – don’t just rely on your own will and the local profits. It might lead to serious disputes.”

The Global Times also published an “opinion piece” by commentator Shan Renping (单仁平), who writes that “religious activities should take place at religious sites, and should not be extended to social settings,” and that “Christian activities should take place within the church, and not in public places.”

Shan Renping adds: “Overall, religion has grown too fast in recent years in China, which has led to friction and conflict. Local governments should no longer use public resources for the propaganda and promotion of a religion. Religion should neither be suppressed nor promoted, but should be dealt with in accordance with the law.”

 

“What on earth gave the Changsha government the right to use the taxpayers’ money for a Christian project?”

 

Although Christianity is one of China’s five state-approved religions, many netizens think the Christian theme park should be demolished. A Hunan TV report showed the park’s purpose as a tourist attraction and wedding photos location, but many netizens stress that China is a secular society and that the park’s construction in Changsha is not in line with the revolutionary history of the city.

In a popular WeChat article (link in Chinese) by an account called “Behind the Headlines”, the author also expresses his dismay at the fact that this Christian park, of all places, should be opened in the hometown of Mao, who was a convinced atheist.

Despite all the criticism, not all netizens think the park is a bad idea. “This is freedom of religion. If you don’t like it, don’t go there,” one netizen said.

One commenter complained that the widespread criticism was unfair, saying: “When there are mosques built, nobody dares to say anything, but when other religions make something, you open your mouths. It’s not right.”

There are also those who do not necessarily care about the religion, but do care about the money: “What on earth gave the Changsha government the right to use the taxpayers’ money for a Christian project? Should it not be a public park instead of a religious place?”

– By Manya Koetse
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Featured image: part of a slogan on a wall saying “love daughters.”.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Local News

China’s Shulan City in “Wartime Mode” after Recording 13 COVID-19 Infections

Local authorities announced a “wartime mode” lockdown due to 13 new local coronavirus cases in Shulan.

Manya Koetse

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The city of Shulan in China’s Jilin Province is top trending on Chinese social media today after local authorities announced a “wartime mode” lockdown due to 13 new local coronavirus cases.

These are the first local infections in the entire province after a period of 73 days, China News reports, with other previous cases all being infections from abroad.

Last week, on May 7th, a female resident was the first to be tested positive for COVID-19. The city in northeast China is now the only place in the PRC to be marked as “high risk.”

One page on social media platform Weibo dedicated to the topic of Shulan going into “wartime mode” (“战时状态”) had received over 190 million views by Monday evening local time.

What does this “wartime mode” entail?
– All residents stay home, lockdown of residential compounds
– All public places closed
– Schools closed
– All public transportation suspended
– No more selling of fever-reducing medicine in clinics or stores

According to CGTN, a total of 290 people who have been in close contact with the infected patients have been traced and placed under medical observation.

For more COVID-19 related articles, please click here.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
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©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Local News

On Wuhan’s ‘Reopening Day’, Even Traffic Jams Are Celebrated

As the COVID-19 lockdown has ended in Wuhan, many people are happy to see the city’s traffic finally getting busy again. “I hated traffic jams before, now it makes me happy to see them.”

Manya Koetse

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It was chilly and grey in Wuhan when the coronavirus epicenter city went into a full lockdown on January 23 of this year. On April 8, 76 days later, it is sunny and twenty degrees warmer outside as people leave their homes to resume work or go for a stroll.

The end of the Wuhan lockdown is a special day for many, as the city finally lifted the 11-week-long ban that shut down all travel to and from the city in a radical effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, city residents returned to work as public transport started again. Roads, bridges, and tunnels were reopened, and the local airport resumed flights.

On Chinese social media, various hashtags relating to the Wuhan lockdown end have become popular topics. Using hashtags such as “Wuhan Lifts the Ban” (#武汉解封#), “Wuhan Open Again after 76 Days” (#武汉暂停76天后重启#), and “Wuhan Reopens” (#武汉重启#), the end of the coronavirus ban is a much-discussed news item, along with the spectacular midnight light show that was organized to celebrate the city’s reopening.

The Wuhan lightshow, image via Xinhua.

“Today has finally arrived! It’s been difficult for the people of Wuhan,” some commenters write.

According to China’s official statistics, that are disputed, over 3330 people have died from the new coronavirus since its outbreak; 80% of these fatal cases were reported in Wuhan. On April 6, authorities claimed that for the first time since the virus outbreak, there were zero new COVID-19 deaths.

Some state media, including People’s Daily, report that the reopening of restaurants and food shops is going smoothly in the city, as people – for the first time since January – are back to buying pan-fried dumplings and noodles from their favorite vendors.

Meanwhile, the fact that the traffic in some Wuhan areas is back to being somewhat congested is something that is widely celebrated on social media.

Some call the mild traffic congestions “great”, viewing it as a sign that the city is coming back to life again after practically turning into a ghost town for all these weeks.

“I hated traffic jams before, now it makes me happy to see them,” one Weibo commenter writes.

“I won’t complain about congested traffic again, because it’s a sign the streets are flourishing,” another Weibo user posted.

While netizens and media outlets are celebrating the end of the lockdown, several Chinese media accounts also remind people on social media that although the ban has been lifted, people still need to be vigilant and refrain from gathering in groups and standing close to each other.

For more COVID-19 related articles, please click here.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
Follow @whatsonweibo

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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