Using various trumped-up pretexts, the CCP continues its campaign to eliminate outdoor religious statues across China.
by Hu Ke
The 17.56-meter-high Guanyin Statue on the Customs Island of Nanzhao, a Level 4A national tourist attraction in Dali Town in southwestern Yunnan Province, was demolished in July of l last year because she was “too big”.
The icon was built with 269 marble stones, and according to some Chinese tourist sites it was considered the tallest white marble statue in the world dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy.
“Central government ordered to destroy Guanyin statue,” said tourist attraction staff member Bitter winter. “The demolition process took four months. Local authorities threatened to close the site if the statue was not demolished. They only allow us to believe in the Communist Party, not Buddhism.
Buddhism played an important role in the history of the city of Dali, so its inhabitants were bowled over by the demolition of the statue. “It has to do with our faith,” said a town resident. “We asked the government to keep the statue, but to no avail. The residents did not dare to demolish it, so the authorities hired workers from outside the city.
In the county town of Mile, Yunnan, a 9.9-meter-tall statue of Guanyin dripping with water, along with traditional Chinese omens of good fortune – golden boy and jade girl – were demolished in June of last year in the city’s Puti temple. A resident explained that the order came from the local religious affairs office. “They said the temple did not have a religious activity place registration certificate and was not allowed to have outdoor statues,” he said.
The temple, originally built in 1817, underwent extensive reconstruction and expansion in 2014. In March of the same year, Bhikkhu Ananda, a famous Nepalese Buddhist scholar and messenger of peace, was awarded a title by the United Nations to distinguished personalities, visited the temple and planted a Bodhi tree, considered a sacred symbol in Buddhism. Because of this act, the temple changed its original name to “Puti” – Chinese for Bodhi.
According to a local source, the municipal government ordered the temple to be converted into an activity center for the elderly, but its director refused, shutting down the place instead.
In November last year, the government of Meishan City in southwestern Sichuan Province demolished a 42-meter-tall statue of Amitabha in Huazang Temple, a thousand-year-old sacred Buddhist site. .
The statue, also known as “Meizhou No. 1 Large Buddha”, was cast over ten years ago at a cost of 3.5 million RMB (approximately $ 510,000). A monk in the temple said Bitter winter that more than 200 police and government workers surrounded the site on the day of the demolition, setting up checkpoints on the roads leading to it. People were prohibited from approaching the temple or taking pictures.
“The government said the temple did not have permission to build the statue,” the monk said. “The number of worshipers dropped dramatically after the demolition, and we now rely on others for a living. “
Prior to the demolition, the government banned believers from worshiping and praying at the Amitabha statue for a year for “potential security risks.” “It’s so unfair that the authorities said the statue should be demolished for safety reasons,” said another temple monk.