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Shaolin Temple seals Australian deal

Qi Xin in Zhengzhou
Updated: Feb 28,2015 9:47 AM     China Daily

Visitors wait to enter Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, Henan province, during the National Day holiday last year.[Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]

China’s legendary Shaolin Temple in Henan province is poised to build a complex in Australia that will include a temple, four-star hotel, kung fu academy and educational facilities.

The center is expected to boost the Australian region’s tourism industry and create hundreds of jobs.

Qian Daliang, general manager of Shaolin Intangible Assets Management, said on Feb 27 the temple has completed a land purchase deal initiated in 2006 by paying A$4.16 million ($3.26 million) to a city in Australia’s New South Wales state.

A concept drawing of the proposed Shaolin Temple complex at Shoalhaven in New South Wales, Australia.[Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]

Last week, Shi Yongxin, abbot of Shaolin Temple, presented the final payment to Joanna Gash, mayor of Shoalhaven, for Comberton Grange, a 1,248-hectare property.

“The Australian facility will mainly provide a place for foreigners to study and practice Buddhism,” Qian told China Daily on Feb 27. “It will be the largest of the 40 overseas Shaolin Temple centers approved so far.”

Details of the project will be announced in a month after the plan is approved by government departments in both countries, Qian said, adding that the project has received generous support from the Australian government.

A report on abc.net.au quoted Gash as saying that the Shoalhaven council is pleased with the outcome of the Shaolin project and looks forward to moving to the next stage.

“The money from China has been transferred to the Shaolin Temple Foundation, and we have received checks for the full amount,” Gash said. “That will allow the project to finally move forward.”

Patrick Pang, a Shaolin Foundation representative who has worked on the project since 2006, said the abbot had considered withdrawing many times during the past nine years of negotiations.

“It is the Shoalhaven mayor, the council and local residents that have made this project go ahead,” Pang said.

Sun Ruqi, a senior official at the Henan Provincial Commission of Ethnic and Religious Affairs, said Shaolin Temple has increased its influence at home and abroad by setting up many overseas centers in the past decade.

Since 2010, Shaolin Temple has had a presence on Sina Weibo, and it now boasts more than 77,000 followers. A gaming app is also being developed to teach users kung fu on their mobile phones.

“We have entered a commercialized society. ... People tend to evaluate things from the angle of commercialization,” said the abbot, one of the first Chinese monks to gain an MBA.

“But you need to look at what is behind the business practice,” he added. “Some people do business so they can survive, and some do it to seek their fortunes. Shaolin Temple just wants to survive, to practice Buddhism.”

Zheng Caixiong contributed to this story.

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