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10 Shaolin monks sent to Yunnan
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Buddhist monks from Shaolin Temple, known for kungfu legends, have been sent to work at four temples in Kunming, Yunnan Province, its abbot Shi Yongxin said in a press release on Monday.

Master Yanlu, who is in charge of external relations at Shaolin, told China Daily yesterday that 10 monks have moved to Yunnan, where they will help with charity and maintenance work at the temples, and also assist with the preservation of relics.

"The move will help to build a bridge between the cultures of Henan and Yunnan, and increase the influence of Shaolin," he said.

A strict selection process was used to choose the temples, each of which has strong spiritual and historic links to the 1,500-year-old temple, he said.

Shaolin monks will be based at the Yunnan temples for the next 20 years, the press release said.

However, while they are there, any money earned by the temples will be used solely for their upkeep and development, Yanlu said.

In a separate interview with Sohu.com yesterday, Shi said Shaolin's advanced management system should be rolled out to more temples in China to help promote Zen Buddhism.

Dubbed the Shaolin CEO, Shi is a controversial figure who has challenged people's opinions of Buddhism and the role of the temple with his business-oriented management style.

His latest announcement has once again sparked controversy.

Sun Yuchun, a native of Henan, now living in Beijing, told China Daily yesterday: "The monks at the Shaolin Temple no longer practice real kungfu, they just do it to make money."

Similarly, Lin Bo, a student at Nanjing University in Jiangsu Province, said the Shaolin Temple should be "about culture, and not be run as a franchise store chain".

But not everyone thinks Shaolin's expansion plan is a bad thing.

An anonymous monk from the Buddhist Association of China said that under the right guidance, the Shaolin model could help improve the image of Buddhism.

There is a long tradition of senior monks going to smaller temples to help them spread Buddhist teachings, he said.

In 1994, under Yongxin's leadership, Shaolin became the first temple in the country to register its trademarks.

Shi, a former business administration student, is well aware of the commercial value of the "Shaolin" and "Shaolin Temple" brands.

The temple has also established institutes in Germany, Italy and Australia to promote Buddhism and martial arts.

In April, a company with close ties to the temple opened the online store Shaolin - Place of Joy, via e-commerce website Taobao.com.

(China Daily November 26, 2008)

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