Investigation urged over temple demolition reports

Updated: 2013-04-12 01:27


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BEIJING - China's religion watchdog on Thursday urged investigation of planned demolition of buildings in a noted ancient temple in the city of Xi'an.

Media reports said some buildings in Xingjiao Temple, which was constructed more than 1,300 years ago during the Tang Dynasty, were to be demolished.

The temple is the burial place of many eminent monks, including Xuanzang, a Buddhist monk and Chinese pilgrim to India who translated the sacred scriptures of Buddhism from Sanskrit into Chinese.

The State Administration for Religious Affairs has urged religious authorities in Xi'an to investigate the case as reported by the media and consult local Buddhists before properly acting in line with relevant laws and policies.

The local government said the demolition was intended to clean up some unmatched buildings in the temple so that the site could have a better chance of applying for UNESCO World Heritage status.

Six countries including China had agreed to have historical sites along the Silk Road listed to the UNESCO's World Heritage List. Xingjiao Temple is one of the historic sites.

Many people, including some monks in the temple, have vocally opposed the demolition plan.

The temple on Thursday proposed withdrawing itself from the World Heritage status application in protest at the planned demolition, which it claimed has affected the lives of the monks.

"The reality of our temple as well as its status quo are far from meeting the requirement for World Heritage status," reads the application report from the temple, which was submitted to the Religious Affairs Bureau of Chang'an district, Xi'an city, on Thursday.

Bureau head Zhang Ning denied reports about the "massive demolition of temples," saying that none of those buildings intended to be demolished are cultural relics, nor are they the Xuanzang Stupa Hall.

The buildings to be demolished are all newly built ones, including the abstinence hall and monk domicile, according to a statement released by the city's world heritage status application office on Thursday.