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China shuns Christianity but dominates the market on U.S. Christmas decorations

The Capitol Christmas Tree glows from the 10,000 ultra-low wattage LED lights, after lighting ceremonies in Sacramento, Calif., Dec. 5, 2016.
The Capitol Christmas Tree glows from the 10,000 ultra-low wattage LED lights, after lighting ceremonies in Sacramento, Calif., Dec. 5, 2016. AP

Here’s something that President-elect Donald Trump won’t like: China has virtually cornered the market in Americans’ Christmas tree decorations.

The atheist Chinese government doesn’t recognize Christmas, but the country’s expanding legions of capitalists love it.

Chinese companies shipped $1.1 billion in Christmas tree ornaments to the United States in the first nine months of this year, monopolizing the entire American market in the shiny baubles.

That total accounted for 92 percent of all tree decorations imported by U.S. firms, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Chinese were almost as dominant when it came to Christmas lights. Eighty-seven percent of the imported beacons were from there, worth $346 million to the vast Asian country.

Trump made U.S.-China trade a focus of his campaign, accusing Beijing of employing devaluation and other unfair tactics at the expense of American companies.

“China is responsible for nearly half of our entire trade deficit,” Trump said in August in a major economic speech in Detroit. “They break the rules in every way imaginable.”

Chinese imports accounted for about $350 billion of the United States’ $800 billion global trade deficit last year.

With deficits falling this year, the U.S.-Chinese share has grown: The trade gap with China was just shy of $290 billion through October, almost three-quarters of the overall $410 billion deficit.

Despite China’s official aversion to Christmas, a small but growing number of Chinese, especially better-educated young people in big cities, exchange gifts and decorate their homes.

Government statistics peg the number of Christians at 28 million, about 2 percent of China’s 1.4 billion people, but the actual figure is believed to be at least twice as large.

The government has waged a crackdown on China’s unregistered “house churches,” according to the Washington Post, interrogating pastors, shadowing believers and tearing down crosses.

While the Chinese Constitution grants “freedom of religious belief,” the government steers people to state-run churches where sermons focus more on the grandeur of the Communist Party than on the glory of Christ.

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