China’s sex scandal monk resigns from key political advisory body
- Former abbot of Beijing’s Longquan Temple steps down from religious oversight committee
A former top-ranking Buddhist monk in China who was embroiled in a sex scandal earlier this year has now been stripped of his position on the country’s top political advisory body.
Xuecheng, who resigned as chairman of the Buddhist Association of China in August, has been under fire since a 95-page document accusing him of sexual harassment went viral on social media at the end of July.
At a meeting on Thursday the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) removed him as deputy director of its Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee. The political advisory body also accepted his resignation as a member of its standing committee, and as an ordinary member, according to Xinhua.
The 52-year-old former abbot of the well-known Longquan Temple was accused of sending suggestive messages to two nuns and making unwanted sexual advances towards at least four others.
Shi Xianjia and Shi Xianqi, the two women who compiled the report, also accused Xuecheng of building temples without obtaining official permits and embezzling temple funds.
Their document sparked widespread attention from the public as well as authorities thanks to China’s fledgling #MeToo movement.
An investigation by the National Religious Affairs Administration concluded at the end of August that the accusations against Xuecheng were credible.
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The authority said Xuecheng was suspected of “violating Buddhist principles”. He is now subject to disciplinary action by the National Buddhist Association.
Before he was forced to step down amid a public outcry, Xuecheng had served as chairman of the association since 2015.
Xuecheng had been highly thought of by Zhao Puchu, the association’s respected former chairman, and became abbot of Guanghua Temple, a key temple in southeast Fujian province, at just 23 years old.
He received his master’s degree from The Buddhist Academy of China in 1991.
Xuecheng had been abbot of Beijing’s Longquan Temple since 2005. Under his leadership, the temple expanded from just five monks to more than 100, with more than 1,000 volunteers and more than 10,000 lay Buddhists.