China cracks down on profiteering at temple sites By: Harold Mandel
he Buddhist Channel has reported today: "China wants to stop profiteering at temple sites." Chinese authorities have announced a ban this week on temples selling shares to investors after it was revealed leaders of several popular temples planned to pursue stock market listings for them as commercial entities. In fact, even the Shaolin Temple of kung fu movie fame has been rumored to be planning a stock market debut, as critics have slammed such plans as being a step too far in China's already unrestrained commercial culture. Fu Runxing, a 40-year-old accountant who said he recently went to a temple where incense was priced at 300 yuan ($50) a stick, has complained: "Everywhere in China now is about developing the economy. It's too excessive. It's looting." According to Chinese state media the centuries-old Buddhist pilgrimage sites Mount Wutai in Shanxi province, Mount Putuo in Zhejiang and Mount Jiuhua in Anhui all were moving toward listing on stock markets in recent months in order to finance expansions.The Chinese government's religious affairs office has called on local authorities to ban profiteering which is related to religious activity and has told them not to allow religious venues to be run as business ventures or listed as corporate assets. There are strict controls on religion by the Chinese government, with temples, churches and mosques run by state-controlled groups. Nevertheless, religion appears to be a booming business in China, along with tourism, which has been giving some places a chance to cash in. The Southern Metropolis Daily has said in an editorial that the ban on profiteering from religious activity is "just a reflection of the terrible reality of the over-commercialization in recent years of temples and other places."