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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

Boy, 15, Fatally Beaten and Buried by Group of Minors in Shaanxi

The heinous crime has sparked discussions on the problem of campus violence and China’s criminal liability age.

Manya Koetse

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A brutal incident that took place in the city of Xingping in Shaanxi province is top trending on Chinese social media today.

On October 29, a 15-year-old boy by the name of Yuan (袁) was fatally beaten and buried by a group of six people, all minors.

Beijing News reports that Yuan was a second-year student at the Xianyang Xingping Jincheng Middle School. He had taken time off from school and had a temporary job in Xi’an before the incident occurred.

Yuan’s father told reporters that his son had returned to Xingping on October 29. A small group of minors, including four students, allegedly demanded money from Yuan, which he refused. It is also reported that a conflict occurred because Yuan added one of the minors to his phone’s ‘blacklist’ (电话拉黑).

According to various news reports, the group of minors attacked the boy with a pickaxe after which he became unconscious. They then brought him over to a nearby hotel and discovered he was dead the next day. They later buried his lifeless body in a pit near the school premises.

The location where Yuan’s body was buried, photo by Beijing News.

On November 2, other students who had heard of the crime reported it to the police. Yuan’s body was found in the pit shortly after officers arrived at the scene.

Local authorities released a statement about the case on November 10, in which they stated the suspects have been detained and that the case is still under investigation.

Various sources on Weibo claim that Yuan previously also suffered beatings at school, with severe school bullying being the main reason for the 15-year-old to temporarily drop out of school.

In a video report by Pear Video, Yuan’s father says they are still unsure of how their son died, suggesting he might have still been alive when he was buried in the pit.

China has been dealing with an epidemic of school violence for years. In 2016, Chinese netizens already urged authorities to address the problem of extreme bullying in schools, partly because minors under the age of 16 rarely face criminal punishment for their actions.

On social media site Weibo and on the news app Toutiao, many commenters are not just angered about the incident but also focus on China’s laws regarding the criminal responsibility of minors.

Some write: “Our criminal laws for minors should protect minors instead of protecting juvenile offenders!”

China’s criminal liability age is currently set at 14. Last month, Global Times reported on a proposal to lower the age of criminal liability in China from 14 to 12 in response to concerns about an alleged increase in juvenile violence.

“These minors need to be severely punished,” multiple commenters wrote: “Who knows who else they might hurt?”

By Manya Koetse

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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China Food & Drinks

Viral Video Exposes Wuhan Canteen Kitchen Food Malpractices

Boots in the food bowl, meat from the floor: this Wuhan college canteen is making a food safety mess.

Manya Koetse

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A video that exposes the poor food hygiene inside the kitchen of a Wuhan college canteen has been making its rounds on Chinese social media these days.

The video shows how a kitchen staff member picks up meat from the floor to put back in the tray, and how another kitchen worker uses rain boots to ‘wash’ vegetables in a big bowl on the ground, while another person is smoking.

The video was reportedly shot by someone visiting the canteen of the Wuhan Donghu University (武汉东湖学院) and was posted on social media on November 7.

According to various news sources, including Toutiao News, the school has confirmed that the video was filmed in their canteen, stating that those responsible for the improper food handling practices have now been fired.

The Wuhan Donghu University also posted a statement on their Weibo account on November 8, saying it will strengthen the supervision of its canteen food handling practices.

“The students at this school will probably vomit once they see this footage,” some commenters on Weibo wrote.

Wuhan Donghu University is an undergraduate private higher education institution established in 2000. The school has approximately 16,000 full-time undergraduate students.

“I’m afraid that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” one popular comment said, receiving over 25,000 likes.

Students from other universities also expressed concerns over the food handling practices in their own canteens, while some said they felt nauseous for having had lunch at the Wuhan canteen in question.

By Manya Koetse

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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