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Tomb relocation suspended after triggering concerns


14:52, November 22, 2012

BEIJING - A massive "tomb-relocating" operation has been suspended in Zhoukou city, Central China's Henan province, after the move triggered grave concerns among the public.

An official with the Zhoukou city government affirmed the suspension Wednesday, but declined to give reasons for the act.

Zhoukou city has launched a campaign this year to encourage local villagers to relocate the tombs of their deceased family members to public cemeteries to reclaim farmland. As of Nov 3, statistics from the city government showed that more than 2 million of Zhoukou's 3.5 million tombs had been relocated, regaining 30,000 mu of farmland.

The move, however, has triggered concerns among the public.

As of Wednesday, more than 300 scholars, experts and business people, have signed an online proposal, labeling the move as failing to uphold the Chinese tradition.

They claim that the tomb relocation is being carried out "forcefully," goes against Chinese culture and seriously hurts people's feelings.

"Worship of ancestors is the most important belief of the Chinese people, and actions of filial piety are one of the most important Chinese traditions," according to the proposal.

On Sina Weibo, the popular Twitter-like microblogging platform, netizen "warfa" commented, "The civil affairs authorities should have known that it's a great taboo to dig up the tombs of others' ancestors."

But local government has denied that there was anything that is "forcefully" during the tomb relocation, and said all villagers' participation is voluntary.

The government has not forced anyone to remove any tombs, said Meng Qingwu, head of the city's civil affairs bureau, adding that no complaints have been received during the operation.

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