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Religious authority against listing temples on stock market

(Xinhua)

08:25, June 06, 2012

SHANGHAI, June 5 (Xinhua) -- China's State Administration for Religious Affairs is against plans to list temples on the stock markets by some local governments, a top official said Tuesday.

Listing the temples on the stock exchanges harms the legal rights and damages the image of the religious community. It also harms the feelings of the believers, said Liu Wei, a deputy department director of the administration.

Temples are the sites for believers to carry out religious activities and are non-profit organizations. There is no precedent in the world to list the temples on the stock market, Liu said at a meeting in Shanghai.

Developing the economy should have its limits and should not cross the moral lines, he said.

Many of Chinese Buddhist and Tao temples have long been tourist sites and sources of revenues for local governments, which have a strong desire to make the temples more attractive and more lucrative. Listing in Shanghai or Hong Kong is a natural choice for them.

Famen Temple, dubbed as the ancestor of pagoda temples in northwest China's Shaanxi province, was expected to be listed in Hong Kong in 2013. The Baoji municipal government postponed the plan at the end of April as the second phase of the expansion project had not started construction.

Shaolin Temple, China's most famous Buddhist temple in central Henan province, was also pushed to be listed on the stock market at the end of 2009 to attract more investment and tourists. The plan was aborted due to pressure from the Buddhist abbot Shi Yongxin and religious authorities.

China currently has about 139,000 religious sites. Of them 33,000 are Buddhist temples, 9,000 Tao temples, 35,000 mosques, 6,000 Catholic churches and 56,000 Christian churches.

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