Harsche Methoden: Peking gegen ausländische Tempel-Renovierer: It was supposed to be a heartfelt cultural exchange between Chinese and Americans, a $3-million gift from followers of a Buddhist group in Los Angeles to repair a centuries-old temple in China. The site, reportedly built during the rule of Kublai Khan eight centuries ago, was desecrated during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution and was badly in need of help. After months of renovation, invitations were printed up for the grand reopening of the Dari Rulai Xingyuan Temple in Inner Mongolia. Three hundred Buddhists from China, Japan, the United States and Canada were descending on the small town of Kulun to celebrate. Suddenly everything went wrong, followers said Thursday. In the days leading up to the party scheduled for last Saturday, police, firefighters, undercover detectives and army troops broke down temple doors, arrested the church's spiritual leader on charges of "inciting superstition," carted away two truckloads of precious artifacts and closed the temple, citing "structural danger." "They invited us in, said, 'You did a beautiful job,' took our money then kicked us out," said Robert Stubblefield, vice abbot of the City of Industry-based Dari Rulai Temple, who had stayed at the Kulun temple for eight months. "This has been a huge shock to everyone." Followers of the 1,400-year-old Hanmi Buddhist sect say that all the necessary permits were approved and that their members were warmly embraced by Kulun officials keen to boost tourism and the local economy. As is often the case in China, questions about whose fist came down and why outnumber answers. The impetus may have come from above. The central government hasn't been particularly warm toward religion recently — despite the right to practice freely enshrined in the Chinese Constitution.
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