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Former Shaolin monk, 15 associates arrested on suspicion of gang activity
China Daily
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Former Shaolin monk, 15 associates arrested on suspicion of gang activity

A group of 16 people, including their leader, a former monk from Shaolin Temple, were arrested recently on suspicion of gang-related crimes in Central China's Henan province amid an ongoing crackdown against organized offenses nationwide.

Police in Yanshi, Henan, issued a statement recently that they had busted the gang, led by Shi Yongxu, on allegations of fighting, illegal detention, blackmail and disturbing public order.

Details about the case, including specifics of the gang's crimes, have not been revealed by police.

The statement quickly aroused public attention, and information about Shi-that he was among the 33rd generation of monks studying the Shaolin discipline and in charge of the kung fu monks at the Shaolin Temple-hit Chinese media headlines.

Some media also said Shi attended events as vice-president of the Buddhist Association of Yanshi and member of the Yanshi committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Late on July 30, the Shaolin Temple-located at the foot of the province's Songshan Mountain and regarded as the cradle of Chinese kung fu-issued a declaration on its website, clarifying Shi as a monk in the 1980s who had left the temple on his own in 2003.

"Shi's activities have nothing to do with the temple, and we have never had a title called kung fu monk," the declaration added.

On July 31, the Buddhist Association of Yanshi also issued a statement via the city's website, saying they have removed Shi from positions at the association and dismissed him as abbot of Hongjiang Temple in the province, considering his suspected offenses.

A staff member of the Shaolin Temple also told Beijing News that Shi used to run a shop in the temple after becoming a monk, but he was not a master.

Huaxi Metropolis Daily, a newspaper based in Sichuan province, reported Shi was involved in several major cases. For example, it said Shi blackmailed a house owner and urged him to pay fees for what he claimed were house repairs.

A senior monk in the Shaolin Temple also told the newspaper that Shi still occupied four main halls, even though he left the temple.

"He asked the temple to give him 3 million yuan ($427,000) as compensation for moving out of the halls, but the temple refused to do that," the paper quoted the monk as saying.

The halls were cleaned up when newspaper staff went to the temple on Saturday.

All the information reported by the paper has not been verified by the police.

China launched a three-year campaign in early 2018 against organized crime, which also targeted officials who shelter criminal organizations.

Beijing courts released a statement saying they convicted 271 people for their involvement in 65 organized crime cases from January last year to the end of June, 46 of whom were sentenced to more than five years' imprisonment.

China DailyShen Yi

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