Chinese authorities destroyed a 99-foot-tall Buddha statue and forced Buddhist monks to watch, reported Radio Free Asia.
After “official complaints that the statue had been built too high,” Chinese authorities destroyed the statue in the Tibetan county of Drago over a period of nine days, starting December 12, the story said. Radio Free Asia confirmed the destruction by satellite images. The statue used to stand under a large, white canopy. Now, it’s a pile of rubble.
“It was just like the [1966-76] Cultural Revolution, when the Chinese government destroyed everything that was old in Tibet,” said one Tibetan living in India. It seems the Chinese authorities intentionally made the destruction more disrespectful to Buddhists by destroying 45 prayer wheels that were used by worshipers as well, the story went on to say.
The statue was relatively new, and its destruction signals the increasing brutality of the Chinese regime in recent years:
With construction completed on Oct. 5, 2015, the Buddha statue in Drago had been built with contributions of around 40 million yuan (U.S. $6.3 million) by local Tibetans and was designed to withstand earthquakes, said a former Drago resident named Palden, now living in India.
“And it had the full approval of the local authorities,” Palden said, adding that Chinese authorities later withdrew their approval and said the statue had been built too high.
“But in reality, their intention is to completely destroy Tibet’s identity by eradicating Tibetan religion and culture,” he said.
As Brahma Chellaney pointed out on Twitter, China is taking a page out of the Taliban’s playbook. The Taliban destroyed countless religious artifacts in Afghanistan during their first reign before the U.S. invasion. Their most notable targets were two massive Buddha statues in Bamiyan that were built in the sixth century.
The justification is likely similar: Adhering to Buddhism precludes strict adherence to the regime. In Afghanistan, that regime is radical Islam as determined by the Taliban. In China, that regime is Communism as determined by Xi Jinping.
The Winter Olympics begin in Beijing in 29 days.