TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- As part of new efforts to stifle celebrations of Christmas in China, Chinese authorities have begun dubbing it "Western spiritual opium" and "China's day of shame" and this year began banning members of the Chinese Communist Party from observing the Christian holiday, and canceled Christmas-related public events in certain parts of the country, including Chongqing's Jiefangbei Shopping Square, reported Apple Daily.
Like many other parts of China this year, Chinese authorities have banned the celebration of Christmas Eve in Chongqing's Jiefangbei Shopping Square. At nightfall on Christmas Eve, thousands of police swarmed the square, lined up around its perimeter and sealed it off from visitors.
Large numbers of police were also positioned in front of stores adjacent to the square to enforce the ban on entering the square.
Chinese shoppers who had originally planned on participating in the annual Christmas Eve festivities took to Weibo (China's version of Twitter) to express their shock:
"The legendary grand celebration in Jiefangbei Square... didn't happen! There's more police than people!"
"There will only be a cold wind blowing tonight."
"It is strange for Jeifang Square to be so quiet on Christmas Eve."
Others who had planned to go the festive carnival expressed disappointment:
"As soon I got close to the square, I found it completely empty!"
"I heard that Christmas Eve was supposed to be lively, but when I got there, I only saw handsome policemen and pretty policewomen..."
"It tastes a bit like the enemy!"
"Chongqing Jiefangbei Square is always completely packed on Christmas Eve, but this year, no dice, Uncle Policeman said, do not come close..."
However, police countered on Weibo by saying, "For your safety, (police) have always been here, sticking to their posts despite the cold wind, and doing everything possible to ensure a safe Christmas Eve!"
In response, one Chinese netizen said, "Kicking all the people out is their definition of a peaceful Christmas Eve!"