Sat, 13 Apr 2013 10:53:31 GMT

Chinese Buddhist temple drops Heritage bid to avert demolition

From K J M Varma
Beijing, Apr 12 (PTI) A 1,300-year-old Buddhist temple in China housing the remains of Xuan Zang, the famous Chinese monk who travelled to India to retrieve Buddhist scriptures in the seventh century, dropped plans to get UNESCO Heritage status following public uproar to demolish parts of it.

Xingjiao Temple, a renowned Buddhist site located in Chang''an District of the provincial capital Xi''an, quit its participation in the application saying the demolition would affect its religious activities and normal life of Buddhists, state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.

"If they demolish the buildings under the current plan, it is still possible that the application for UNESCO Heritage will be vetoed by the international panel," Master Kuanshu, the temple spokesman said.

"But if Xingjiao Temple takes the initiative to quit, it will not affect the province''s application," he said.

According to the government''s plan, some of the newer buildings that are unmatched with the original style of the temple, including the dinning hall and dormitories, will be demolished by June 30.

The move is part of preparations for an application for UNESCO World Heritage status for several sites in Shaanxi province along the Silk Road, an ancient trade route running from the Middle East to China.

Xingjiao Temple holds the remains of Xuanzang, a famous Chinese monk who traveled to India to retrieve Buddhist scriptures in the seventh century and inspired epic Chinese classical novel ''Journey to the West''.

Zhang Jinlai, who played the Monkey King in a popular 1988 TV adaptation of Journey to the West in a comment posted on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog service, called on the religious affairs administration to interfere.

Zhang''s comments had been reposted more than 180,000 times and received more than 40,000 comments, most of which supported his appeal.

The Buddhist Association of China said it was shocked and worried about the plans for Xingjiao Temple, according to a statement posted on its website yesterday.

"Demolishing temple buildings without getting permission from the residing Buddhists seriously violates religious policy and laws, and infringes upon the legal rights of the Buddhist community," it said. (more) PTI KJV

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