The Religious Affairs Bureau took ownership of the 34-meter-tall statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy in June and ordered its demolition a few months later.
Standing at 34 meters, the bronze Jiuding Lotus Mountain Guanyin Statue in Shandong Province’s Zibo city cost 8.88 million RMB (about $1,287,500) to build. It was privately funded and built in 2009 and has, since it was erected, served as a tourist attraction for Buddhists who’ve come to worship.
According to eyewitnesses, on September 21, all intersections leading to the Jiuding Lotus Mountain Guanyin Statue were blocked by more than 200 SWAT and regular police officers, and the mountain pass was cordoned off. During the demolition, the authorities used isolation boards to block off Lotus Mountain and prohibited anyone from climbing the mountain to take videos or photos. According to sources, more than 100,000 RMB (about $14,500) was spent on the isolation boards alone. Afterward, the authorities sent personnel to turn off all the surveillance equipment on the mountain and ordered workers to destroy the Guanyin statue.
The demolition work continued until the evening of September 23. The entire Guanyin statue was cut up into pieces. According to one villager, a person who funded the statue rushed to the scene and tried to stop the authorities from taking down the statue, but a government official said: “You already handed the Guanyin statue over to us. It doesn’t belong to you anymore.”
In accordance with the requirements of the Religious Affairs Bureau, sources said, the funder applied to have a permit reissued for the Guanyin statue, but the officials from the bureau didn’t process it for him, saying the relevant permits could only be reissued if he transferred ownership of the Guanyin statue to the government.
In order to save the statue, the funder had no choice but to transfer ownership of the Guanyin statue. He put forward a condition, demanding that the authorities guarantee that the Guanyin statue and Lotus Mountain’s Buddhist culture remained intact and unchanged. After agreeing to this condition, the Religious Affairs Bureau signed a contract with the funder on June 2. But a mere three months later, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), violated the agreement and destroyed the statute without giving the funder any warning or explanation.
“The government dug a pit for me to jump into. The contract said that the statue would remain intact and unchanged,” the funder said. But “after handing [rights and ownership of the statute] over, I no longer have the final say.”
Since last year, when China’s State Administration of Religious Affairs issued a document stipulating that “no organization or individual is allowed to invest in the construction of, or undertake operation of, large open-air religious statues,” the CCP has intensified its nationwide crackdown on large open-air religious statues. Outdoor religious statues throughout China are being forcibly demolished one after another.
Reported by Jiang Tao