The Chinese government had a message for the rest of the world Monday, claiming that stories about its crackdown on Christianity are overblown by the press.
“It may be the media’s natural instinct to exaggerate news stories to attract more eyeballs,” Communist state-run paper Global Times said. “But when it comes to Christmas in China, Western media have apparently gone too far.”
The country recently banned vendors from selling Christmas-themed ornaments and items on roadside stands, and the Communist government took offense to the way that western media reported on the ban.
“Earlier this month, the urban management bureau of Langfang, Hebei Province, declared a ban on Christmas elements along the streets, especially roadside stalls and migrant vendors selling relevant products. Admittedly, the ban sounds rigid, but the operation of indoor shopping malls and supermarkets are not limited by the rule,” the paper reported.
But the crackdown on Christianity does not extend just to what can and cannot be sold on the side of the road. The Chinese government has been forcefully shuttering Christian churches over the past year.
Two weeks ago, reports surfaced that Christian leaders in the nation were arrested and tortured by government officials. Big League Politics reported:
According to a Tuesday report, about 100 Christians leaders were arrested over the weekend at a church in Chengdu, China over the weekend where three faced torture at the hands of Chinese police.
“Persecution watchdog group ChinaAid said that among the arrested at Early Rain Covenant Church were Pastor Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong, as well as Guo Hai and his wife, who were forced to leave their child unnattended [sic] at home when they were taken into custody,” according to Christian Post.
A prayer letter from the church in Chengdu described this weekend’s instance of terrorism and torture.
“Three brothers and sisters who have been released told us that they were [tortured] by police at the police station today and even stepped on their feet. One of the brothers was tied to his hands and feet at a late night and was detained all day, and the leg was tortured in multiple ways, and the body was injured with multiple injuries. These evils are heinous,” the letter said according to the report.
Before that, churches were shuttered while bibles and crosses were burned, and in a separate incident, Christians were forced to renounce their faith.
Still, the state run media in China is defiant.
“Even if American reporters cannot read Chinese, they could at least personally have a look at what really is happening in the city,” Global Times. “It is a routine for Chinese urban management authorities to manage roadside stalls and migrant vendors who often occupy bike lanes and even the motorway mostly without a legal business license. This is not aimed at Christmas particularly.”
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Canadian Police Report Almost 2,200 Home Visits To Monitor Quarantine Compliance
Canadian police officers reportedly have conducted almost 2,200 home visits to ensure travelers into the country are complying with quarantine rules.
In late March, the Canadian government announced the start of the Quarantine Act, which mandates that anyone entering the country, with the exception of essential workers like truck drivers and those in healthcare, must self-isolate for 14 days.
Failure to comply can incur a fine of up to $750,000 and/or six months in prison. However, so far there have been no arrests, and only one fine of $1,000.
Still, many may find unsettling the degree to which the Canadian police, in coordination with official border and health services, are enforcing a nanny state by paying home visits to incoming travelers deemed at risk of non-compliance. In addition, prime minister Justin Trudeau has hinted that even tougher measures could be coming, even once Canada begins easing cross-border travel.
Also in late March, the Trudeau government announced a halt to all immigration in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. However, current immigration applications would not be closed or denied due to failure to meet typical requirements.
Still, many pointed out that Canada’s response was actually stronger than the US’, which has continued to import thousands of H-1B workers even while under lockdown due to a global pandemic.
The border between the US and Canada has been closed since the end of March, and this was recently extended, likely into mid-June. Trudeau has stated that the closure and its extension were implemented with full cooperation from the US.
While travel into Canada has not stopped completely, it has fallen drastically since the implementation of restrictive policies. However, critics of the government question whether Trudeau reacted quickly enough, and argue that the policy going forward is too vague and requires more explanation and accountability.
As stated by Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus:
“It was the Trudeau government’s failure to close our borders that allowed the virus to spread in the first place. It is incumbent on the Trudeau government to explain how they plan to ensure that travelers who are coming back to Canada are not spreading COVID-19… Unfortunately, right now the Trudeau government is telling Canadians to ‘wait and see’ without explaining what metrics they are relying on to make decisions.”
While Canada is doing significantly better than the US in terms of the number of cases, one tragically sobering area in which it has exhibited clear failure is the fate of its elderly, particularly those in state and private long-term care institutions.
It is estimated that up to 86% of the Canadian death toll is from facilities such as long-term care, retirement, and corrections, with the first two making up the large majority. In one privately-run nursing home, as much as one third of residents have died from coronavirus.
While the situation is complex and there are few countries that do not seem to have significant problems with their approach, it is clear that something is wrong with Canada’s. Perhaps the government should focus more on taking care of its elderly than intrusively monitoring its citizens.
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