China’s top Buddhist monk accused of sexual assault, temple denies claims

Aug 3, 2018

China’s highest ranking Buddhist monk who is also a political advisor to the government has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting nuns at a monastery in Beijing.

Xuecheng, abbot of Beijing-based Longquan temple, has denied allegations he sexually assaulted and harassed nuns by “controlling their minds” in the garb of religious teachings.

This is the latest case in China’s escalating incidence of high-profile persons being accused of sexual misconduct. Hundreds of monks stay and study at the monastery located on the outskirts of Beijing.

Xuecheng is a member of the Standing Committee of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – the country’s top political advisory body – and head of the government-affiliated Buddhist Association of China.

Two monks from Longquan temple, Xianjia and Xianqi, said in a report submitted to the public security department (police) – which was leaked online on Wednesday – that Xuecheng “sexually harassed several nuns, including sending illicit messages to them and forcing them to have sexual relations with him”.

“However, the temple said the two whistleblowers have ‘forged materials, distorted facts and spread false information’ that misled the public,” the Global Times tabloid reported.

Investigations into the case began after the two monks submitted their report.

“Xuecheng was taken for questioning by relevant authorities days ago before being released,” the newspaper reported, quoting an anonymous source.

“Longquan Temple is under his spell. Xuecheng manipulated disciples to serve his ‘Buddhist Empire’…disciples under his control sacrificed their precious practices of Buddhist doctrines and violated these doctrines, even laws,” the report submitted by the two monks alleged.

The two monks started investigating Xuecheng’s messages after a nun, who stayed in Beijing in December 2017, showed them messages with sexual content.

The Global Times reported they contacted experts from the public security ministry to confirm the messages were sent by Xuecheng. “The messages showed that Xuecheng tempted or threatened at least six nuns to have sex with him, four of whom capitulated to his requests,” it added.

One of the nuns reported to a police station in Haidian district in Beijing on June 29 that Xuecheng had sexually assaulted her.

The man at the centre of the scandal seemed unperturbed.
He posted pictures of a national flag-raising ceremony on social media on Wednesday, vowing to carry forward the Communist Party’s campaign to infuse patriotism in religion.

China’s #MeToo movement has been slow to take off but appears to have escalated in July with accusations being levelled against influential persons, including a journalist and the founder of a charity. The movement seems to be gaining ground despite allegations that reports on it are being widely censored.

Source : Hindustan Times 

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