Ancient or new, Buddhist, Taoist, and folk religion temples continue to be suppressed; even those with proper government certification and approval are demolished.
by An Xin
Taoism and Buddhism have a long history in China, with numerous ancient temples scattered throughout the country, some of which are designated as protected historical and cultural sites. However, in the height of the CCP’s crackdown on religion, both old and new places of worship are facing closures and demolitions. Even traditional folk religion temples are not spared.
Fujian: Five temples destroyed in Jianxin town in just two days
Located in Jianxin town, in Cangshan district of Fuzhou city in the southeastern province of Fujian, Fuxing Temple was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and covered the area of 4,000 square meters. As a member of the local Taoist Association, the temple was paying several thousand RMB in membership fees each year, and also had a religious activity venue registration certificate. Regardless, the local government forcibly demolished it, claiming that the land is needed for the construction of a hepatobiliary hospital.
On April 30, more than 1,000 police officers were deployed for the demolition, three cranes and two excavators were brought in. Shield-carrying riot police surrounded Fuxing Temple; the area was cordoned off, prohibiting anyone from entering under threats of arrest. In just half a day, the temple was gone. An over 10-meter-tall Guanyin statue was also dismantled and hauled away.
Video: Fuxing Temple is being demolished, as riot police guard the scene
According to a villager, at least 300 local officials and police officers blocked off all the roads in Xishan village and prohibited residents from approaching the temple. In just over 10 minutes, the temple was turned into a pile of ruins.
Video: Folk religion General Temple in Meiting village is being demolished with numerous riot police present at the scene
Hebei: More than 20 temples demolished on Fenglong Mountain
Fenglong Mountain is a famous tourist attraction in Shijiazhuang, a city in the northern province of Hebei. Over nearly 30 years, elderly temple masters have built more than 20 Buddhist temples on the mountain. Each year, from the first to the 15th day of the third lunar month, a grand temple fair is held here, attracting numerous believers and tourists.
On March 12, the local government blocked off all the intersections on Fenglong Mountain and used excavators to demolish the temples. All the items inside the temples were smashed.
The head of one of the temples presented to government officials the documents obtained when the temple was built. This was not enough to save the temple. “Xi Jinping is in charge now. All the documents that were previously obtained are useless. If Xi Jinping says to demolish, we will!” this was what the officials said in reply.
“We’ve lived on the mountain for nearly 30 years. We spent more than 10 million RMB (about $ 1,455,000) on building temples, paving roads, and drilling wells. All the money was donated. Now, the government wants to chase us down the mountain. We have no source of livelihood and nowhere to live,” the head of another temple said worriedly.
Liaoning: 15 Buddhist and Taoist venues sealed off in Gaizhou city
In Gaizhou city of the northeastern province of Liaoning, 15 Buddhist and Taoist venues were closed down because officials claimed that they had been built without receiving government approval. This was stated in a notice ordering the demolition that was issued by the city’s Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau on May 29.
Qingyun Temple, one of the closed down Taoist places of worship, was built before the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949. Therefore, the government’s claims that it was built illegally are completely absurd, local believers think. One of them said that Qingyun Temple was built more than 70 years ago, and the local Taoists, mostly in their eighties or nineties, cannot present any documentation to prove its validity. “How can the government claim that the temple was built without prior approval?” the believer asked in confusion.
He also revealed that a week before the notice was issued, the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau prohibited the personnel at Qingyun Temple from wearing Taoist attire; the burning of incense was also forbidden. The temple’s entrance was sealed off, windows, incense burner, and statues covered up. The temple’s nuns and priests were all driven out.
The local government established a “three-level management team,” consisting of town and village officials, as well as police officers, that frequently visits Qingyun Temple for inspections to prevent believers from resuming their religious activities.