Related: Ancient temple, modern monks
ZHENGZHOU -- The gift of a luxury sports car by the Dengfeng City government
to a monk for his contributions to the local tourism industry has stirred up a
heated debate on the Internet.
The abbot of the Shaolin temple in the central
province of Henan, Shi Yongxin, stands beside a spectacular sports sedan
worth 1 million Yuan (US$125, 000), which is awarded to him for his
contributions to the local tourism industry. [Dahe
Shi Yongxin, the abbot of Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng in Henan Province,
received the one million yuan (US$125,000) vehicle eight days ago at the city's
tourism promotion conference.
"I will try my best to promote martial arts to the world in an attempt to
boost local tourism. I dream of getting a bigger prize next year," said the
abbot who is in charge of the place widely considered to be the birthplace of
China's famed kungfu.
Following the award ceremony, tens of thousands of netizens pasted their
opinions on net forums or surveys conducted by China's major web portals,
including sina.com, sohu.com, yahoo.com and netease.com, to discuss the
Results of the survey show that about three-quarters of the respondents
consider that giving a luxury sedan to a monk is inappropriate.
"Shaolin monks are renowned for their austerity, transcriptions of religious
classics and marvelous martial arts, but now, luxury goods have entered their
lives, proving that the religious world has been violated by worldly concepts,"
an anonymous netizen wrote.
The netizen called for spiritual encouragement for religious people rather
than material rewards.
Some of the criticism targets monks, saying they should not enjoy modern
luxury goods in temples. "They have forgotten what their purpose is and are
concentrating on what they shouldn't do," wrote a dissenter with the internet
"His duty is to boost the martial arts spirit. Even if
he contributes a lot to local tourism he should not be given a car," commented a
netizen, adding that it is wrong to spend one million yuan on a car in a
Agriculture-oriented Henan is the most populous province in China with 96.67
million. The population will top 100 million in 2009.
Poor villagers struggle to make a living. One of the most tragic aspects of
Henan life is the existence of "AIDS villages" harboring people who contracted
AIDS from dirty needles when they sold blood to illegal blood
Those support the move consider the award is proper because driving and
praying do not conflict each other in a monk's life.
"The Shaolin temple has made a large amount of profits over past years as its
fame has escalated around the world. It is proper to reward the abbot with a
sedan," a supporter with net-name of "Shaolin-believer" wrote.
"It is reasonable to award a person who made contributions to local tourism,"
a post says, adding that those who oppose the move may have never achieved
"There aren't any laws to stipulate that monks can't drive a car," says
another post, adding that the temple does a lot for local tourism due to their
Shaolin Temple, built at Songshan Mountain in 496 during the Northern and
Southern dynasties (420-581), has attracted nearly three million domestic and
overseas tourists and gained an income of 75.5 million yuan (US$9.4 million), up
49 and 65.4 percent respectively over the same period last year.
Shaolin's martial arts has been gaining influence worldwide as actors of
Chinese origin, such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, use its stunts in a wide
range of overseas films.