U.S. Embassy Requests Explanation for Chinese Detention of U.S.-Based Buddhist Leader

August 19, 2004

Source: The Washington Post


On August 19, 2004 The Washington Post reported, "Chinese authorities have detained a prominent, U.S.-based Buddhist leader in connection with his plans to reopen an ancient temple complex in Inner Mongolia province and have forced dozens of his American followers to leave the region, local officials said Wednesday. The U.S. Embassy here said it has requested an explanation from the Chinese government and plans to protest the treatment of the Americans, several of whom accused police of physically removing them from the temple and seizing their property. The embassy also urged the Chinese government to respect the rights of the detained spiritual leader, Yu Tianjian, 53, a Chinese citizen who holds a U.S. green card and has been the abbot of the Dari Rulai Temple in Los Angeles for nearly five years. His students consider him a 'living Buddha,' or an enlightened teacher who has been reincarnated, and the 'dharma king,' or leader, of a branch of Buddhism with perhaps millions of adherents worldwide. Yu's detention is the latest sign of an official crackdown on unauthorized religion in China that appears to have intensified in recent months. Eight Roman Catholic priests were arrested in a raid last week in Hebei province, a U.S.-based rights group said Wednesday, and another U.S.-based rights group reported the conviction of three underground Protestant leaders in Henan province this month on charges of 'providing state intelligence' to overseas organizations."