“As evil as a mafia,” devastated Buddhists and Taoists say about China’s government after numerous temples in the province were suppressed at the end of 2019.
by Wang Yichi
Worse than Cultural Revolution
The Shengshou Temple in Xingyang, a county-level city in Henan’s Zhengzhou city, was originally built in 1048 during the reign of Emperor Renzong of Song (1010-1063). The Buddhist temple was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and rebuilt in 2012 at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by residents in 2009. It was demolished for the second time at the end of 2019 after government officials declared the temple “an illegal construction.” Similar and other pretexts are often used by the authorities in China that attempt to conceal the fact that places of worship are destroyed because of the ongoing religious persecution.
The Xingyang city government sent over 70 employees on December 30 and set up three checkpoints along the road leading to the temple, blocking vehicles and pedestrians, to prevent worshippers from hindering the demolition process. Soon after, the entire temple, including many Buddha statues and other valuable religious items, was turned into ruins.
“The temple was built with the approval of the government that encouraged masses to help with the construction at the time,” a local Buddhist told Bitter Winter. “They now ordered to demolish it. This is really a waste of workforce and resources!”
According to a source, in early November, the local government ordered the temple manager to demolish a newly built dormitory for monks and a hall for chanting, and burn all the books by Venerable Master Chin Kung. The 16 Buddhists living on the temple’s premises have been expelled.
Video: The Shengshou Temple is being demolished.
Declaring allegiance to the CCP doesn’t help
On October 26, Hongfu Temple in Jicheng town of Zhengzhou’s Zhengdong New District was demolished for “illegally occupying the land.”
A local Buddhist told Bitter Winter that the temple was built on the wasteland rented by its manager in 2008. After the construction was completed, the manager raised the national flag and put up posters with President Xi Jinping’s quotations in the temple to show allegiance with the CCP.
This didn’t save the temple. Ten days prior to the demolition, government personnel took the manager to the local police station, where officers threatened to keep him until he signed a statement promising to unconditionally cooperate with the government’s demolition of the temple. He had no choice but to compromise.
“Unconditional cooperation with the government means that no photos of the demolition can be taken, no negotiations initiated, and no compensation demanded,” a local Buddhist explained helplessly. “This is typical behavior of the CCP government.”
“The Communist Party is as evil as a mafia,” a local worshipper said. “Under the tyranny of those modern bandits, even sacred Buddhist temples cannot enjoy peace.”
A similar fate befell a Taoist Baiyitang Temple in Henan’s Xuchang city. The temple was built during the reign of Guangxu (1871-1908), the 11th emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), and was demolished on orders from the local government on October 10.
On November 12, another Taoist temple, spanning a history of over 500 years, was also demolished.
The Buddhist Changshan Temple, located in the prefecture-level city of Suizhou in Hubei, a province adjacent to Henan, was demolished in late November. Since the in-charge of the temple refused to sign the statement agreeing to destroy the temple in September, government officials threatened to dismiss her son from public office. They later held her for four days in a government building until the woman surrendered.