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High-ranking Buddhist monk charged with sexual abuse in China

In a 95-page document submitted to the Chinese authorities in July, two male monks at the Beijing Longquan Temple accused Shi Xuecheng of having sexually harassed and assaulted several female nuns.

At a time when women in China are pushing back hard against widespread sexual abuse, in a similar way to the #Metoo movement in Western countries.

Xuecheng, abbot of the Longquan Temple, is a high-profile personality who heads the Buddhist Association of China and serves as a nationalist political adviser to the Communist government

The 51-year-old who, like most Buddhist monks, took a celibacy vow , issued a brief statement on Wednesday evening condemning all its allegations to its more than one million followers

The statement, issued in the name of the temple, claimed that the "organized and malignant" whistleblowers "forged material, twisted facts and spread false accusations "lead the public. He said the temple will ask the government to conduct an official investigation to "clarify the matter."

The Religious Affairs Administration said in a statement Thursday that the agency "attached great importance to the claims against Xuecheng" and "has begun to initiate investigations and verification work."

  The Buddhist master Xuecheng arrives at the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing on March 3rd.

Report censored in social media

The prosecutor's report contains numerous examples of explicit messages that Xuecheng allegedly sent to at least six nuns. In the news, Xuecheng is said to have demanded total obedience from the nuns, including sexual favors, as part of their study of Buddhist teachings.

It leaked online Wednesday and spread in Chinese social media before being censored [196592002] The document contains reports from a number of alleged victims, some of whom say they were so devastated by their experiences, that they became mentally unstable or even suicidal.

According to the document, a victim finally filed a police report in Beijing in June claiming that the abbot had sexually assaulted her and several other nuns

Shi Xianqi, one of the two monks behind the original document, the It also contains corruption allegations, CNN said on Thursday, that he and co-author Shi Xianjia stand by their words and cooperate with the authorities.

"We have provided more evidence," he said. "We will now wait for the result of the government probe."

CNN's repeated calls to Longguan Temple and Xuecheng on Thursday went unanswered. Local media said on Thursday that the driveway to the hill on which the temple is located was closed abruptly after the allegations surfaced, pointing to "landslides following the recent torrential rains"

& # 39; The evil in the robe of the Buddha & # 39;

In a statement to CNN, Xianqi described how he began investigating Xuecheng earlier this year when a "fearful and nervous" nun told him about the express messages she had received from the abbot.

After Receiving the News Legally, Xianqi said the whistleblowers had consulted with police and technical experts to rule out the possibility of the abbot's account being hacked.

  Robot monk distributes Buddhist wisdom to the temple in Beijing

"So many faithful Buddhist women wanted to join the temple and I always voted yes," he said Statement. "Little did I know that I sent her to the Tiger's mouth." (19659002) "The learned image of the abbot has fallen apart in my mind," he added. "All that's left is great fear, he's evil in the robe of the Buddha."

China boasts more than 240 million Buddhists, although the ruling Communist Party is officially atheist.

Xuecheng is one of the most prominent religious leaders in the country, author of numerous books and a globetrotter in promoting Chinese Buddhism.

The abbot is known for giving the old religion a modern twist, maintaining an active online presence and teaching Buddhist ideas through cartoons. In 2016, he attracted worldwide attention as he helped found a humanoid robotic monk to welcome young visitors to the temple.

His temple is also an intellectual bastion of highly educated young monks. The two whistleblowers earn their doctorate in engineering from one of China's most prestigious universities [194559002]

China's # MeToo Moment

Xuecheng is not the first prominent Chinese Buddhist monk who has been subjected to serious accusations in recent years. In 2015, Abbot Shi Yongxin from the Shaolin Temple, the country's legendary Kung Fu Monastery, was accused of being a misappropriated and womanizer with illegitimate children.

Recent Allegations Against Xuecheng Surprisingly Published in the English Edition of the State The tabloid Global Times is part of a series of allegations of sexual harassment that have ripped through China in recent months.

  Women in China face unique #MeToo challenges, but see progress
In July, a table of allegations against prominent men within non-governmental organizations as well as activist and media circles of Chinese women online.

It has made comparisons to the #MeToo movement in the West, which has uncovered a series of serious allegations against high-profile media and political figures as women resist systemic sexual harassment and abuse

Careful when they exclaim men whose work is important, many Chinese women have highlighted the hypocrisy of their perpetrators and the discrepancy between their public and private faces

"They are famous, they are powerful, and they make a great contribution (to society), and exactly this makes them think they have the power to sexually harass women, "said Xiong Jing, director of the Beijing-based Women's Media Monitor Network to CNN last month.

CNN's James Griffiths and Ben Westcott have contributed to this article.

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