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China cracks down on Buddhist books amid religious suppression

Books of Buddhist leaders from China and Taiwan have been banned and destroyed

Tibetan monks (Getty Images photo)

Tibetan monks (Getty Images photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China is tightening its grip on religion with its latest round of crackdowns targeting publications by renowned Buddhist leaders.

A campaign has been waged against unauthorized books at dozens of Buddhist temples across Shanxi, Jiangxi, Shandong, and Jilin provinces since May. The temples have been raided by the authorities with seized books destroyed, reported Bitter Winter, a Chinese magazine dedicated to human rights and religious freedom in China.

Ninety-two-year-old Venerable Master Chin Kung (淨空法師) is among the Buddhist gurus specifically targeted. The monk, known for his teachings promoting interfaith harmony, has been accused of colluding with the West and his works defamed as disseminating “fallacious arguments” and “endangering national security,” according to an account from an abbot.

Publications of spiritual leaders from Taiwan, including Master Huei Liu (慧律法師) and Master Cheng Yen (證嚴法師) have also been banned, replaced with books introducing Confucius and Mencius ideologies. A librarian at a Buddhist library in Jilin said the staff was asked to dispose of books from Taiwan and Hong Kong amid the unrest in the semi-autonomous territory of China.

Beijing has been relentless in its effort to suppress religious freedom. In a press conference for the release of the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report in June, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed the CCP for ordering religious groups to “infuse communist dogma into their teachings,” in addition to acts such as detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and continued repression of Buddhists, Christians, and Falun Gong practitioners.