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Religious affairs officials accused of corruption

Beijing (AsiaNews): Ye Xiaowen, a former head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, and Zhu Weiqun, the former head of the Tibet section of the United Front Work Department, have been called out by a Tibetan scholar of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing for corruption in connection with the designation of Living Buddhas, or tulku.

“Director Ye, how much (money) did you dredge up yourself?” Jiangbian Jiacuo asked in a posting on a Weibo account on December 12. Although it was removed on December 18, the posting remained on the website of Beijing’s Pu Shi Institute for Social Sciences, as well as on Invisible Tibet, a Chinese-language blog managed by exiled Tibetan activist, Tsering Woeser, according to a UCAN report.

The broader issue began when authorities tried to undermine Buddhist tradition by taking over the task of designating who could be a Living Buddha.

Living Buddhas are in great demand among the country’s 200 million Buddhists, who are prepared to donate large sums for the honour of receiving their blessing. 

One result has been the buying and selling of the title, reportedly going for more than 200,000 yuan ($239,000). Recently however, this practice has come under closer scrutiny. 

As many as 10,000 people might be calling themselves Living Buddhas across China, even though the state has only recognised 1,700.

According to Jiangbian, officials with the United Front Work Department have turned a blind eye to the extra Living Buddhas for money.


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