The CCP’s campaign to eliminate Buddhist icons across China continues unabated for nearly three years. More accounts of demolitions.
by Lu Xiaojing
The Yunxiao Buddha Temple in Shehong city’s Jinjia town in the southwestern province of Sichuan had to hire a construction team in May to hide its 28-meter-tall statue of Buddha. Luckily, the icon was preserved, but nobody knows for how long. Since the CCP’s campaign to eliminate all large outdoor Buddhist statues was launched nearly three years ago, an incalculable amount of religious icons disappear every day.
The 14-meter-tall white Guanyin statue outside the Jade Emperor Temple in Xiangshan, a town in Suining city’s Daying county, was demolished in October last year. A county resident recalled how about 20 local officials and police officers arrived at the temple that day and blocked all roads leading to it, prohibiting residents from approaching and threatening to detain and fine those who dared to “make troubles.” The temple director was later hospitalized due to health complications resulting from stress.
An 18-meter-tall ten-faced Buddha statue in the Huilongxi Hot Spring Resort in Yanjiao, a town in Guizhou’s Liupanshui city, was also removed for being too tall in the first half of last year. The order came from the local Religious Affairs Bureau.
“The order to destroy the statue came from the provincial government, and the Tengzhou city mayor supervised the demolition on the spot,” an inside source told Bitter Winter. “This is a political task. Not obeying it means dismissal.”
“The government doesn’t want religions to exist; crackdowns on them is a national policy,” a staff member at the Longshan Scenic Area said. “If everyone converts to Buddhism, who will believe in the Communist Party?”
A 30-meter-tall Guanyin statue in the Zhujia Villa, a scenic spot in Shandong’s Zaozhuang city, was demolished on January 6 last year.
In 2018, the Tancheng county government in Shandong’s Linyi city demolished a 16-meter-tall Maitreya statue in the Guangfu Temple, originally built in the Tang dynasty (618-907) and destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
The Chongfu Temple in Xingtang, a county in Hebei Province’s Shijiazhuang city, first built in the Ming dynasty’s (1368-1644) Hongwu period (1368-1398) and rebuilt in 2017, was popular with worshipers for its Hall of Great Strength, Temple of Heaven and a 30-meter-tall white marble Guanyin statue.
The 30-meter-tall white marble Guanyin statue, built at the cost of 7 million RMB (about $ 1,060,000), outside the temple, was demolished in the winter of 2018. In May this year, the government ordered to remove all statues from the temple, threatening to bulldoze the building otherwise.
“Xi Jinping follows Mao Zedong’s steps in sweeping ‘cow demons and snake spirits,’” a local government official commented, referring to a term used during the Cultural Revolution to demonize perceived enemies.
The 20-odd-meter-tall gilded copper statue of Shakyamuni Buddha in the Qinglong Temple in Fushun city’s Zhengjia village in the northeastern province of Liaoning was built at the cost of nearly ten million RMB (about $ 1.5 million) and attracted numerous visitors. According to a local source, a central government inspection team visited the temple last year and ordered to remove the icon, threatening to fire city officials if the order were not implemented. Some residents filed a petition to the government hoping to save the statue, but officials threatened to detain anyone who protests the demolition.
A 4.8-meter-tall Guanyin statue outside the Puji Temple in Linhai, a county-level city in Zhejiang Province’s Taizhou city, was demolished in January. In September last year, a 6-odd-meter-tall Guanyin statue in the city’s Duqiao town was removed because the authorities claimed that it “distracted drivers.”
In December 2019, Xiangyu village officials in Fujian Province’s Fuzhou city demanded to remove the Tathagata Buddha statue atop a mountain in the Rulai Park, but local Buddhists managed to preserve the icon by wrapping it with green iron sheets. Believers continue to worship in front of the concealed statue.