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BEIJING - The abbot of the Shaolin Temple has proposed protecting Buddhist heritage, but declined to comment on the fate of his commercially-run temple while attending the ongoing annual parliamentary session in Beijing.
Shi Yongxin, the high-profile monastery head of the birthplace of kungfu and a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), has shown reticence during this year's national meeting, shunning throngs of microphone-wielding reporters outside the Great Hall of People and their sporadic ambushes along his route.
Shi's proposals this year included enhancing legal protection on Mount Songshan in Central China's Henan province, where Shaolin is seated, banning sales and contractions of Buddhist temples, opening more religious sites to the public and promoting religious medicines.
"Some Buddhist temples in China have been sold to non-clerical people, who made profits by charging worshippers. It has hurt the feelings of Buddhist followers," said Shi.
Shi also called for legal protection on Mount Songshan, the newly-listed world heritage site, whose natural environment is now subject to damaging overmining and rampant tourist activities.
But Shi did not comment on Shaolin's recent failure to pass an inspection by the tourist watchdog due to flawed management.
A national committee on tourist site assessment recently issued a circular demanding that the temple overhaul its "chaotic operation" or forfeit its rating as a five-A tourist site. The circular said the temple had been overrun by vendors and rip-off businesses.
It was the latest scandal to hit the abbot, who has vigorously pushed the temple into movie-making and commercial kungfu shows, actions that have drawn criticism for alleged over-commercialization of the temple.