Chinese driving test centre told to delay opening until it ‘improves’ after monks bless its fleet of cars

Video clip appears to show traffic police attending religious ceremony but authorities deny they took part in ‘superstitious activity’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 June, 2018, 5:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 June, 2018, 2:15pm

Traffic police in central China told a private driving test centre that was about to open it could not do so until it “improved”, after a video clip of monks holding a religious ceremony on the premises was posted online, state media reports.

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The footage, which has been widely circulated on the internet, shows five Buddhist monks blessing a new fleet of cars at the centre in Hengyang, Hunan province. One of them can be heard saying, “We begin the prayer ceremony to bless these driving test cars for the road.”

It generated interest online because security guards seen in the video looked like they were wearing the blue uniforms of traffic police, China Youth Daily reported on Sunday.

While the ruling Communist Party officially recognises five religions, including Buddhism, its members are supposed to be atheists and cannot take part in “superstitious activities”. So it would be considered inappropriate for traffic police, who oversee driving test centres, to attend a religious ceremony.

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But in a statement on Sunday, Hengyang traffic police denied its officers were involved in the ceremony, saying it was just staff from the driving test centre and security guards who took part and police had no prior knowledge of it.

It added that the new centre had not yet been approved by the authorities.

In an open letter, Leiyang Jintai Vehicle Driving Test Centre apologised for “causing trouble to the authorities”, saying the ceremony had been arranged by the car dealership that sold the centre its fleet, according to the report.