A memorial archway at one of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism has been forcibly demolished, and the president of the Mount Jiuhua Buddhist Association has been placed under house arrest.
The archway of Mount Jiuhua in Chizhou city’s Qingyang county of the eastern province of Anhui was forcibly demolished on October 19. It was built in 1994 after Mr. Ji Lianghua from Hong Kong donated 380,000 RMB (over 55,000 USD) for its construction.
Sources inside the government confirmed that the president of the Mount Jiuhua Buddhist Association had been placed under house arrest at his residence in Baisui Palace, which has also been raided.
The demolished memorial archway was at the very entrance to Mount Jiuhua. A local Buddhist monk said that its destruction had dealt a blow to Mount Jiuhua’s reputation as a sacred Buddhist site. He added that following its “sinicization” policy, the Chinese Communist Party has already hoisted a national flag at every Mount Jiuhua temple, and posters with the “core socialist values” and the new Regulations on Religious Affairs have been posted on the walls of all places of worship.
According to the monk, the government has now prohibited the burning of large incense sticks in temples. Each Buddhist worshipper is only allowed to burn three thin incense sticks of the smallest size, and government officials carry out inspections to ensure compliance.
Many monks have already been expelled from the temples on Mount Jiuhua, and the Dabeilou guesthouse in the area has been demolished. A Buddha statue carved in a cave has been smashed to pieces.
In early October, the authorities seized incense from 40 Buddhist shops on Wuxi Street at the foot of Mount Jiuhua, and the shops were forced to close down. According to a proprietress of one of these shops, during the seizure of incense, government personnel told her that Buddhism was a xie jiao (heterodox teaching) and that the shops were forbidden from burning or selling incense anymore. Another shop owner said helplessly: “Trying to resist the central government’s instructions is like courting death.”
On the signboards of some local shops, every sign with the Chinese character for “Buddha/Buddhism” (Fó) has been removed or modified, resulting in a different character (fú), which means “not.”
The crackdown against Buddhists is being carried out by the bureaus of Public Security and Urban Management. According to recent information, 17 temples in the Guichi district of Anhui’s southern city of Chizhou are facing closure or demolition.
Reported by Jiang Tao