In the northeastern provinces of Liaoning and Jilin, CCP is intensifying its campaign against large outdoor religious symbols.
The destruction of large Buddhist and Taoist statues has become an ideological matter for the Chinese authorities, an integral part of the unprecedented struggle to rid the country of anything religious that is not controlled by the CCP. In the past year, numerous Buddhist statues have been removed or demolished; temples shut down and destroyed.
Built during the reign of the Northern Wei Dynasty that ruled northern China from 386 to 534, Qingyan Temple, located on a mountain in Changxingdian town, under the jurisdiction of Jinzhou city, has a history spanning over 1,500 years. China’s largest Buddhist venue and a famous tourist attraction nicknamed the “First Arhat Mountain of China,” the temple and 800 white marble Arhat statues surrounding it was designated a national 4A-level scenic spot. In 1986, the provincial government certified it as a religious activity venue.
In September 2018, Jinzhou authorities ordered the temple to remove all 800 statues. The destruction lasted for over a month and cost the temple more than 500,000 RMB (about $ 75,000).
All that remains of the once-magnificent Arhat Mountain are the statues’ bases, but even the inscriptions on them have been scrapped off.
The dismantled Arhat statues wrapped in yellow fabric and covered with tarps have now been abandoned at a dog-breeding farm.
In Daheishi Tourist Scenic Area, located in Liaoning’s Dalian city, authorities hired a crane to remove 508 Arhat statues because they were deemed illegal. Some of the sculptures were damaged in the removal process.
The statues were carved out of white jade, at the cost of more than 1.5 million RMB (about $ 230,000), collected by local believers.
Also in September, a 24-meter-tall reclining Shakyamuni Buddha statue was removed from Lingbao Temple in Jilin Province’s Hunchun city, under the absurd pretext that “open-air Buddhist statues are exposed to the wind and rain, which is disrespectful to Buddha.”
In April, authorities ordered to remove a 10-meter-tall Shakyamuni Buddha statue from Yongning Temple, located in Wensheng district of Liaoning’s Liaoyang city. The person in charge of the temple had to hire a crane to take it down.
“This is a national policy. The central government wants to get rid of all religious belief, just like during the time of Mao Zedong, when all ‘monsters and deities’ were swept away, and people weren’t allowed to believe in anything,” said a local elderly person.