Two Chinese science institute employees sacked over Taoist ritual at building site
Two employees from a government-backed scientific institute have been sacked and come under Communist Party investigation after a Taoist ritual was performed during a groundbreaking ceremony for a building in western China.
The ritual took place at the construction site of the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics’ experimental thorium reactor in Wuwei, Gansu province, on Thursday.
The institute is part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the country’s top state scientific research body.
Photos and footage posted online showed a man – reportedly a farmer – dressed as a Taoist priest and “ridding the site of evil” at a table laden with sacrificial offerings.
The institute was soon criticised for organising the religious ritual, prompting one apology on Saturday and another on Monday.
In China, all religious activities come under the close scrutiny and control of the officially atheist party.
In a statement on Monday, the institute said two of its employees had been fired and subjected to party disciplinary procedures. While neither had taken part in the ritual, they had failed to stop it, it said.
“This activity has created a negative influence on society. We recognise our mistake, and hereby express our deep apologies to our colleagues in society,” the institute said.
City and county officials called in the construction company for meetings after the incident. The deputy director of the management committee of the industrial district, and seven other public officials who attended the ceremony were subjected to government disciplinary action.