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Hidden cameras found in abbot's bedroom

2013-07-15 14:59 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Wang YuXia

Surveillance cameras have been found in the abbot's room at Shaolin Temple, with one pointed at the abbot's bed.

An employee told yesterday's Economic Observer they were discovered during renovation work.

It's not known who installed the cameras but the employee believed there could be a link with disputes over the temple's growing popularity as a tourist attraction.

The temple in Dengfeng City in central China's Henan Province is renowned as the birthplace of kung fu.

Whenever there are disputes between the temple and other parties, rumors fly, the report said.

In 2011, it was said that Abbot Shi Yongxin had a mistress who was a student at Peking University and that he had US$3 billion deposited overseas. The mistress and an illegitimate son were said to be living in Germany.

A temple spokesman said later the rumor was not worth responding to.

It had spread after a city government bid to demolish a temple courtyard to build a hotel was foiled shortly before demolition started.

The lion's share of profits evolving from Shaolin Temple go to the local government, the report said.

Monks protested

Ticket sales alone amount to about 150 million yuan (US$24.4 million) a year, with the government taking 70 percent.

Sometimes the government delayed giving the temple its share, and Shaolin monks protested about that at the government offices. However, the temple was accused of being "too commercialized." Officials were reported to have said: "What's the use of so much money for you monks that should do no more than reciting your sutras?"

There was also a rumor that the temple was going to list on the stock market, something Shi has denied many times.

Shi is also said to have displeased the city government by taking center stage in group photographs with important visitors. Upset officials are said to have complained that Shi "didn't have the sense of ceremonial rules."

When gifts were presented to visiting officials, Shi waited for them to come forward. But some officials believe Shi should come forward to present the gifts in a respectful way, the report said.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the temple in March 2006, a provincial government official tried to put his seat at the same level with Shi, who was receiving Putin, but was stopped by one of Putin's bodyguards.

There are many people keen to cash in on the fame of the temple, the report said. Some companies registered trademarks including the word "Shaolin," for example, and various competitions such as a "Kung Fu Star" contest and a beauty contest were held near the temple. Kung fu training schools named after the temple were also being established.

The report said there had been many disputes since the Dengfeng government got together with China National Travel Service (HK) three years ago to develop the temple into a tourist destination.

To attract more investment, the local government gave up its controlling stake in the scenic area of the temple to the travel service at a low price. In return, the travel service was to invest in construction projects while expanding tourism.

However, over the past three years it had made huge profits from the temple's tourism industry but hadn't invested in any projects, the report said.

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