Local governments throughout China intensify efforts to annihilate Buddhist symbols, suppressing believers and spending a lot of money in the process.
by Gu Qi
Official fired, believer arrested
On September 14, a 21-meter-tall dripping-water Guanyin statue outside the Guanyin Temple in Wuhai city in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was forcibly demolished by the local government because “the statue was too tall.” The demolition lasted for ten days and cost about 4 million RMB (about $ 560,000).
According to an eyewitness, the local government dispatched about 100 police officers to guard the temple during the demolition, while more than a dozen Buddhists tried to prevent it. One of them was arrested.
A local Buddhist told Bitter Winter that the Guanyin statue, built with 3 million RMB (about $ 420,000) of donated money, used to attract believers and tourists from around the world.
A government insider revealed that the authorities ordered to tear down the statue earlier in the year, and the person in charge of the temple covered it in an attempt to save it. An official from the local Religious Affairs Bureau was dismissed for failing to enact the orders. The higher-ups then demanded to take down the statue before September 25, threatening to fire the city’s mayor otherwise.
“Prior to the demolition, government officials said the statue was too high, and we agreed to lower it according to their requirements. They then claimed that it was unlicensed, and the person in charge visited various government departments to apply for necessary permits but was rejected,” a local Buddhist explained. “Obviously, the government was coming up with pretexts to demolish the Guanyin statue.”
Millions spent on demolitions
The Huilongwan National Forest Park, a 4A level tourist scenic spot in Yichun, a prefecture-level city in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, was well-known for its three large outdoor statues of Linhai Guanyin, Maitreya, and Shakyamuni Buddha. The 26.8-meter-high Linhai Guanyin on Huize cliff was particularly popular with visitors who would come to pray for blessings.
In June, the local government demolished the three statues, claiming that “relevant procedures had not been completed and non-religious venues are not allowed to have outdoor Buddhist statues.” The demolition work cost over one million RMB (about $ 140,000).
The same amount was spent to demolish a 27-meter-high Guanyin statue, built at the cost of over 3 million RMB (about $ 420,000), that used to stand outside the Qingyun Temple in Heilongjiang’s prefecture-level city of Jiamusi. Started in November last year, the demolition lasted for two months.
In May, a 5-meter-high Guanyin statue in Jiaohe city in the northeastern province of Jilin was demolished on orders from the government because it was deemed too high.
Out of sight, out of mind
The CCP seems to believe that with no religious symbols in view, people will eventually give up their faith, and its ultimate goal of crushing any form of religion in China will be achieved. So, unable to demolish outdoor Buddhist statues in some cases, they are ordered to be modified, resulting in the most bizarre visions, or concealed.
In mid-September, a 16-meter-high Guanyin statue in Putian city in the southeastern province of Fujian was also concealed on directives from local officials. It was built with the donation money from local believers at the cost of 3.2 million RMB (about $ 450,000).
A 30-odd-meter-high Guanyin statue, located in Fujian’s county-level city of Nan’an, built with funds of over 5 million RMB (about $ 700,000) donated by local Buddhists, was unveiled in March. Soon after, the local government ordered to conceal it from people’s sight.