Thu, Sep 27, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Changhua County razes temple turned into CCP shrine

By Chen Kuan-pei and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Excavators yesterday start to demolish Biyun Temple, later used as a center for pro-China and pro-communist activities, in Changhua County’s Ershuei Township.

Photo: Chen Kuan-pei, Taipei Times

The Changhua County Government yesterday demolished a former temple that had been converted into a shrine to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), while the owner protested by raising aloft the Chinese flag a final time.

Wei Ming-jen (魏明仁), a contractor and former military officer, bought the property and used it as a conduit of Chinese influence and his own interests, an official said Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

The temple was ordered demolished and its water and power supplies cut by the county on Friday last week. Changhua County Deputy Commissioner Lin Ming-yu (林明裕) yesterday oversaw the demolition work, which he ordered to commence at 10:05am.

The county said Wei would be responsible for paying the NT$5 million (US$162,882) cost for demolition, adding that the work would take one week to complete.

On Tuesday, about 20 people showed up to support Wei, who wore a People’s Liberation Army uniform during the flag raising.

Wei told his supporters that the demolition had historical significance, adding that the communists would “rise up again at their base in Ershuei (二水)” — the township where the property is located.

Wei ended his speech by chanting: “Long live the Chinese Communist Party. Long live the teachings of Mao Zedong [毛澤東]. Long live the People’s Republic of China.”

He said his supporters should trust him, because their “great China dream would one day be revived.”

Before the demolition began, Wei raised the Chinese flag at the temple, gathered his belongs and left, accompanied by members of the pro-unification Concentric Patriotism Association (愛國同心會).

The nearly 100-year-old temple originally served as a place of worship for local Buddhists. The temple had hired Wei to build an expansion, but later lost the building to him due to a property rights dispute.

Wei kicked out the nuns residing at the temple and replaced Buddhist statues with images of Mao, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and other CCP icons.

The Changhua County Cultural Affairs Bureau said the temple was built in 1922 and expanded in 2002.

The temple had agreed to pay NT$70 million for the expansion, but as the work progressed, Wei increased the cost to NT$90 million, which the temple was unable to afford, the bureau added.

Wei took the case to court, where it was tied up for nearly 10 years.

The Changhua District Court ordered the temple be auctioned off.

Wei’s remodeling of the temple with CCP propaganda and Chinese flags caught media attention, with the New York Times running a feature story on Sept. 19.

The nuns have been forced to live as squatters in a makeshift shack next to the property, the temple priest said, adding that he hopes “everyone can help rebuild the temple someday.”

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Changhua County Councilor Hsu Shu-wei (許書維) said he was grateful to Changhua County Commissioner Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷) for taking the lead in having the temple demolished, but added that only in deciding who had the rights to the land would justice be served.

At a news conference yesterday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman An Fengshan (安峰山) said: “This clearly demonstrates the DPP’s indulgence of Taiwan-independence activities while it attacks and persecutes Taiwanese who advocate unification.”

Additional reporting by Chung Li-hua

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