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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

Oil Tanker Truck Explosion Sends Shock Waves through Wenling, Zhejiang

A major oil tanker explosion has left over a hundred people injured and at least ten dead in Wenling, Zhejiang.

Manya Koetse

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On June 13, the explosion of an oil tanker truck has caused chaos in the city of Wenling in China’s Zhejiang province, leaving at least 112 127 people injured and nine 10 people dead.

The explosion took place in the afternoon at approximately 16:40 near the exit of the G15 Shenhai highway, causing a loud bang and wrecking some homes in the vicinity.

The hashtag “Zhejiang Wenling Tanker Wagon Explosion” (#浙江温岭槽罐车爆炸#) and other related hashtags (#浙江温岭一油罐车爆炸#) are attracting millions of views on social media site Weibo on Saturday evening (local time), with Chinese media and netizens sharing the footage of the damage caused by the explosion.

“My god, this is so scary,” a typical comment on Weibo says, with many people expressing their shock over the major incident.

Emergency and rescue workers are currently still at the scene to assist victims and clear away the wreckage caused by the explosion.

On Saturday night around 21:15 local time, Chiense state media outlet CCTV was still broadcasting a live stream through Weibo showing the latest images and footage of the situation and interviewing injured people in the hospital.

Local authorities and Chinese media are warning people not to go near Wenling’s Daxi to keep the roads clear for rescue workers.

Meanwhile, people on Chinese social media are spreading praying emoji’s and candles, expressing their sympathies for the victims of today’s explosion.

By Manya Koetse

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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

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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