High-ranking Chinese Buddhist monks accused of sexual harassment-Sino-US

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High-ranking Chinese Buddhist monks accused of sexual harassment

Photo: CNN

One of the highest-ranking Buddhist monks in China has been accused of sexually harassing multiple female nuns and coercing them into having sexual relations with him.

Shi Xuecheng, 51, who the abbot of prominent Beijing Longquan Temple, heads the Buddhist Association of China and serves on a political advisory body to the central government.

In a 95-page report submitted to the Chinese authorities in July, two former monks in the temple accused Xuecheng of sexual misconduct, with at least one victim committing suicide.

In response, Xuecheng posted a brief statement on China's Twitter-like Weibo on Wednesday night, denying all accusations against him.

The statement, issued in the name of his temple, said, "The falsified evidence is based on a deliberate attempt to frame Master Xuecheng, and can be considered a crime."

"This incident has its roots in revenge, an operation motivated by malice. Beijing Longquan Monastery calls on the government and religious affairs authorities to form an investigative team to look into the matter," it added.

The State Administration for Religious Affairs said in a statement on Thursday that the agency "attaches high importance" to the claims against Xuecheng and "has started investigation and verification work".

The accusations came at a time the Me Too movement is gaining ground in China.

On July 24, Zhang Wen, a veteran journalist and online political commentator, was accused of raping a 27-year-old legal worker and six other women.

Two days later, Zhu Jun, a CCTV Spring Festival gala host, was accused of sexual harassment by an intern working on his show Artistic Life in 2014.

Several college professors were accused of sexually harassing their students.

The latest claims against Xuecheng prompted an outcry on Chinese social media and unusual coverage by state media.

According to the state-run tabloid Global Times, Xuecheng had been brought in for questioning by the authorities but later released.

Chinese netizens voiced their opinions on allegations against Xuecheng, calling on the public to continue to pay attention to this matter and urging government agencies to strengthen supervision on religious affairs.

China boasts more than 240 million Buddhists despite the ruling Communist Party being officially atheist.

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