Saturday, May 4, 2013

Shame on China II: Destruction of Buddhist Religious Heritage

Even after more than 50 years of communism, China remains a religious country.  Nevertheless, the officially atheist PRC not only harasses religious Chinese, but callously destroys China's religious heritage in the name of progress. 

CPO has reported on China's part in the planned demolition of an important Buddhist site in Afghanistan for profit, but religious sites at home fair no better.  For example, AFP is reporting on plans to bulldoze many of the buildings associated with a 1,300 year old Buddhist temple erected near where China's famous terracotta warriors were found.  Ironically, the supposed reason for the destruction is to assist with an application to make the area a "World Heritage Site."

Should the US State Department authorize repatriation of every last unprovenanced Chinese coin when China cares so little for major religious sites?

Update:  While archaeo-blogger Paul Barford contorts logic to justify the demolition of this important Buddhist site within China proper, far more troubling news has emerged that Chinese authorities have begun to demolish wide swaths of Tibet's capital, including another important temple, again in the name of progress.

1 comment:

Cultural Property Observer said...

Arthur Houghton asked me to post this:

Peter, the matter goes beyond the question of whether China cares a fig about its own cultural heritage, to the broader issue of the degree to which it will ignore international agreements that it is a party to, in order to serve its own development interests. A close read of the current MOU between the US and China, suggests that China is in direct violation of this agreement on a number of counts, even as it seeks a renewal from the US -- just how much in violation is something that really needs to be documented.

On close read, the MOU is a really odd document. Article II, para. 10, for example, puts the US government in the position of speaking for the US museum community. One would think that would have enraged our museum directors and boards -- but there is only silence on the matter. It is virtually a given that silence will continue.