While countless Buddhist temples are being destroyed across China, statues of deities are being replaced with those of Mao Zedong in the remaining places of worship.
As part of Xi Jinping’s “sinicization of religion” policy, countless Buddhist temples in various provinces have been either destroyed or repurposed. To make the remaining temples “more Chinese,” authorities “decorate” them with Communist propaganda or images and statues of Party leaders, former and current alike.
At the end of August 2018, authorities removed statues of religious deities from a Buddhist temple in Yucheng county of Henan’s Shangqiu city and have turned it into a “worship place” for Mao Zedong. His statue made of plaster has been placed inside. Chinese characters “一代伟人” meaning “a titan striding the earth, or a leading figure of the generation” have been written above the entrance.
A local village cadre said, “It is imperative that we demolish and repurpose temples.” He revealed that officials in other villages had been fired for “not performing well enough in implementing religious policies.”
At around the same time, another Buddhist temple in the same county was similarly taken over by the CCP. The temple was re-purposed so that it was impossible to tell from the outside that it used to be a place of worship. Also, portraits of Mao replaced the statues of deities.
In March, a statue of Mao was erected outside the Zhengxin temple in Xinzheng city. Also, portraits of not just Mao but President Xi Jinping were also put up at a temple in Shangqiu.
Locals have sarcastically remarked that if they want to protect temples from being demolished, they’ll have to start “worshipping” Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping. Given that the village cadres have been told to destroy more than 95% of the temples in their jurisdiction, this does not seem to be far from the truth.
On June 27, in Henan’s Zhengzhou city, local officials assembled over 200 personnel who demolished the Tianwang temple in Jicheng town without informing anyone. The owner of the temple incurred losses totaling nearly 160,000 RMB (over 23,000 USD).
Later, on August 10, the Tiandi temple in Lema township of Henan’s Shangqiu city was demolished as well.
In September 2017, the Taizhou city government in Zhejiang assembled a total of 100 personnel, including demolition workers and police station officers for the Baiyun temple demolition. Without providing a warrant or any authorized document, they claimed that it was an “unapproved construction project” and razed the newly constructed temple to the ground. As per reports, believers had raised nearly 650,000 RMB or 94,000 USD to build the temple.
Reported by Jiang Tao and Lin Yijiang