Many Buddhist temples have been demolished since February across various provinces under the false pretext of “unapproved construction projects.”
Hou Aiyun, the 83-year-old caretaker of the Guangxiao Temple in Zhengzhou, was barely awake when law enforcement personnel carried her and her husband outside the temple in the middle of the rainy night of April 12. They were given no time to react, and their cell phones were seized as well. After that, more than 100 officers set about demolishing the Buddhist temple. The statues, electrical appliances, and other objects were all razed to the ground by two bulldozers and one excavator. By 3 a.m., the four-hour demolition drive came to an end as all three main halls of the temple lay in ruin.
The temple was built in 2016 by Li Shuangxi and was spread across 1000 square meters. The local authorities had written to Li prior to the demolition that the temple would be torn down due to the illegal land occupation.
Li has denied that claim. He also said that the district government leaders had examined the land previously and approved the construction of the temple.
According to a leak by an internal government employee, the Bureau of Religious Affairs on district, city and provincial levels all knew about the Guangxiao Temple demolition. While all of them indicated they would preserve the temple, the city and provincial levels of government began to pressurize the district level to carry out the demolition.
This is not the first such incident. Temples across Sichuan Zhejiang, Guangzhou, and other provinces have been demolished in the past few months following the implementation of the new Regulations on Religious Affairs in February this year. The Communist Party document, entitled “Opinions on the Implementation of the Strategy of Rural Vitalisation,” emphasizes the crackdown on illegal rural religious activities, excessive religious iconography and so on.
Because of the regulations, it’s not only the Uyghur and Christian people who are being suppressed. Even the traditional Chinese religion of Buddhism is being attacked as well, as evident by the Guangxiao Temple demolition. A local villager who requested anonymity, commented, “We commoners understand that all of the religious movements teach people to be good, but the government keeps suppressing religion anyway to the extent that complaints are being voiced all around now.”
Reported by Jiang Tao