The government of Chongqing municipality is demolishing Taoist and Buddhist symbols, as part of the nationwide crackdown on outdoor religious statues.
by Yu Shi
In the CCP’s war against all religions in China, even Buddhism and Taoism – the two of the Three Teaching of Chinese spirituality and religion, along with Confucianism, – don’t evade persecutions, as temples are destroyed, sealed off or repurposed for entertainment centers, and statues of deities and Lao-Tzu, the father of Taoism, are demolished.
Jade Emperor disappears
The Heavenly Mountain (天堂山) Scenic Area, known as “Jade Emperor’s Holy Land,” is located in Fengdu county under the jurisdiction of Chongqing, a municipality in southwest China under direct administration by the central government. In January, the county government ordered to “rectify” a 33-meter-tall sculpture depicting the head of Jade Emperor – one of the most important gods in Chinese Taoism – atop the mountain. The sculpture has been converted into a billboard reading “Heavenly Mountain Wonderland.”
The scenic area has been designated as a “Holy Land of Taoist Culture for Tourism and Sightseeing in the World” by the China and Overseas Travel Culture Association and the Religious Tourism Committee in China. Not wanting to admit that the statue has been altered as part of the anti-religion drive, the authorities claimed that the Jade Emperor’s head was “too tall.”
“The government is so immoral to alter the Jade Emperor statue,” local villagers commented with anger. “Those who dare to set themselves against the Heavens will not come to a good end.”
500 personnel sent to demolish a Buddha’s head sculpture
An 18-meter-tall sculpture of Buddha’s head at Dafo Temple (literally “Giant Buddha Temple,” located in Baijia town in Dianjiang county, under the jurisdiction of Chongqing) was also forcibly demolished because the officials decided “it was too tall.”
On May 14, the county government dispatched about 500 personnel to the temple, including special police officers and officials from the Public Security Bureau and Environmental Protection Bureau. Police officers guarded the scene and kept the person in charge of the temple under control. Within just two hours, two excavators demolished the statue of Buddha’s head, which was situated on the hill behind the temple, leaving only one of Buddha’s hands standing in isolation on the hillside.
The sculpture was built in 2012 with private funds, at the cost of over eight million RMB (about $ 1.12 million). In the second half of 2018, the central religious work inspection team discovered the statue using aerial photography. The officials designated it an “illegal structure” and ordered to demolish it. Attempting to save the statue, the person in charge of Dafo Temple covered it with a black sunshade net, but it was still destroyed.
In late July, the words “Heaven-Sent Buddha Mountain” on a memorial stone at the temple were painted over, and the Chinese characters for “Dianjiang Dafo Temple” above the temple’s entrance were smeared over with cement. One month later, three incense burners inside the temple were also demolished.
At the end of July, two Buddhist statues in the towns of Changsha and Dade (both in Kaizhou district of Chongqing) were also forcibly demolished. One villager said sarcastically, “The Buddhist statue was too big and was coated with gold powder. As soon as the sun came out, it gave off a golden glow, making Xi Jinping look inferior. That’s why it was demolished.”