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'CEO monk' set to franchise Kung Fu Shaolin shrine
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Pretty soon, it won't be necessary to go to the famed Shaolin temple in China's Henan Province to learn its famed kung fu fighting style. You'll be able to get your kicks at a franchised "offshoot" in Yunnan Province.

Shi Yongxin, the abbot of the 1,500-year-old Shaolin temple in Henan, has announced that his temple will introduce a "trusteeship" system at four 2,000-year-old temples in Yunnan. He'll send Shaolin monks to those temples, whose earnings and donations will go to the Shaolin temple.

Shi said that the trusteeship period will be about 20 years.

"Our management model centers on culture, martial arts, education, charity, and zen Buddhism. We hope these will help promote the popularity of the four temples," said Shi.

Shi is also known as the "CEO monk" because of his tendency to run the temple like a business. Under his management, Shaolin has gone into film production, e-commerce and kungfu shows.

The latest commercial move, not surprisingly, exposed Shaolin to a new round of harsh criticism, with reaction online overwhelmingly negative.

"The temple has been degraded to a company," an anonymous netizen from central Henan said.

Shi rejected the idea that the "chain store" temple model is just too commercial. "I did so at the invitation of officials in Yunan," he told Xinhua.

But Shi's supporters said it is a good way to develop Shaolin in such a brand-oriented society, because commercialized operation helps to protect and spread Chinese kung fu.

(Xinhua News Agency November 25, 2008)

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