In Henan, the authorities are forcing shop-owners to either change the name of their shops or shut down if they have any kind of religious significance.
Bitter Winter has previously reported about Muslim shop-owners being forced to remove the word ‘halal’ from their shops and products. We now have reports that Christian shop-owners are facing a similar kind of crackdown.
On August 10, authorities in Dengzhou city demanded that “Hallelujah Jianli Auto Maintenance Service and Paint Shop” remove the first word from its name.
Government officials said that according to national policies, store names are not allowed to use vocabulary related to religious belief. They also revealed that a shopkeeper was fined 20,000 RMB for using the word ēncì (“grace”) when naming their store.
Meanwhile, in Shangqiu city, officials showed up at the “Immanuel Pure Cotton Home Textiles,” and demanded that the proprietor remove the store’s signboard immediately. The shop-owner was threatened that if he did not comply, the shop’s signboard would be forcibly demolished and he would be fined.
The same day, government personnel went to a children’s clothing store, and demanded the removal of the store’s signboard, which read “Immanuel Cool Babies Chain Store.”
However, this is not limited to Henan. In Heilongjiang Province’s Daqing city, a resident went to the local Administration Bureau for Industry and Commerce to register the store name Shèngdiǎn Měifà (“Holy Canon Hair Salon”). But the bureau’s computer was unable to process the word, “sheng,” which is the Chinese character for “holy.” Instead, the system showed that the usage of the word was “prohibited in the national character database.”
The employee then revealed that as of this year, the government has been implementing policies that forbid the use of Chinese characters that have religious connotations.
Not only that, the government is targeting products that are sold in shops. In Henan’s Jiaozuo city, officials harassed a local ceramic tile manufacturer and forced him to remove 174 designs from his portfolio because they had religious overtones. In another case, the Sanmenxia municipal government investigated and removed tiles containing “Immanuel” or other religious content from the doorways of almost 4,000 buildings.
In Linzhou city, the officials forced another ceramic tile shop owner to destroy some products even though the owner insisted that their design had nothing to do with religion. According to reports, keeping a product with religious connotations can invite a fine of at least 1,000 RMB.
Reported by Jiang Tao