Bitter Winter continuously receives reports about the regime’s attacks on Buddhist and Taoist temples, which are destroyed, sealed-off, or repurposed.
by Zhou Xiaolu
According to received information, no fewer than 50 temples were demolished in Yanchuan county, administered by the prefecture-level city of Yan’an, in China’s northwestern province of Shaanxi between August and September 2019.
Government-hired workers destroyed the Guanyin Temple in Hejiawan village in the county’s Dayu sub-district in August. Demolished during the Cultural Revolution, the temple was rebuilt at the cost of over 100,000 RMB (about $ 14,000) a few years ago. “The government is adopting the same measures as during the Cultural Revolution,” a villager told Bitter Winter helplessly. “We often burned incense in the temple to worship Buddha; this was an important part of our spiritual life.”
In late September, the Bodhisattva Temple in Yanchuan county’s Gaojiawan village was also dismantled. According to a village resident, to save the temple, villagers spent over 100,000 RMB (about $ 14,000) on bribes, but to no avail. He added that even the stone cattle statues, guardians of fortunes and health in Chinese tradition, outside the temple were also removed. “This is the government’s policy, and anyone who protests against it will be arrested,” the resident lamented.
A man from Dumuyuan village in the county told Bitter Winter that the county government hired people from out of town to raid the village temple, who smashed all doors and windows, destroyed statues, wrecking the entire place. He also said that the government took away the temple’s incense burner, which is a valuable antique, made during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).
“The government is not only suppressing religion but also plundering valuables, like regular bandits,” he said with anger.
In Panlong town, administered by the Baota district of Yan’an, 17 temples were demolished.
At least 100 temples in Baoji, a prefecture-level city in the west of the province, were closed down, their entrances blocked with bricks and concrete.
A temple in Yudan village, administered by Fengming town in Baoji’s Qishan county, suffered numerous attacks by the government last October. It was eventually repurposed, and chess and mahjong tables, as well as other entertainment items, were brought into the temple. Religious statues were replaced with President Xi Jinping’s portraits and quotations.
The entire Taibai Temple in Baoji’s Jintai district was enclosed with a huge banner promoting the core socialist values as a message from the government that worshiping Buddha is prohibited, and only studies of communist ideology are allowed.
On orders from the Qishan county government, religious statues in the Kuixing Temple in Wulipu village were covered up, and the donor recognition plaque was buried. The temple’s eaves were sealed with plywood, and a signboard “Entertainment Center for Seniors” now hangs above the entrance.
A Buddhist in her 70s from Xinglin town in Baoji’s Fufeng county told Bitter Winter that even after their temple was sealed off, local believers still wanted to practice their faith. “In early December, we secretly made a hole in the fence and sneaked into the courtyard to burn incense under cover of darkness,” the woman remembered. She added that all of them felt very uneasy doing this, but the government is forcing people to worship in secret.
According to an elderly believer from Wujing town in Fufeng county, after her temple was closed down, she still burned incense outside the temple when it got dark. A county government official threatened to demolish all temples that are not sealed, as part of the nationwide campaign “to clean up gang crime and eliminate evil.”