Biyun Temple decorated with PRC flags (by Outlookxp [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons)

Biyun Temple, in central Taiwan’s Ershui Township, Changhua County, faces partial demolition after it was turned into a Chinese Communist shrine.

In 2010 the Temple was taken over by a retired military officer and constructor named Wei Ming-jen (魏明仁), who in 2012 evicted the nuns, giving rise to a dispute that has yet to be settled.

At a press conference held in 2010, the secretary-general of the Chinese Buddhist Temple Association (中華佛寺協會) Lin Jung-chih (林蓉芝) explained that in 2002 the nuns at Biyun Temple wanted to construct a new building, but they worried about the cost. Wei Ming-jen approached them and offered to lend them NT$30 million on the condition that he be the contractor.

Wei was supposed to finish the job within two years, but when the nuns moved back into the temple, the construction works had not been completed. As a result, they refused to pay the last installment, amounting to over NT$10 million.

Wei Ming-jen sued them and won. The temple was seized and auctioned by the government. Wei’s sister acquired the property rights for NY$40 million and transferred it to the family.

After Wei evicted the nuns, he began turning the Temple into a Chinese Communist shrine. He renamed the temple into “People’s Republic of China socialism, nationalism and patriotism base” (中華人民共和國社會主義民族思想愛國基地). Having removed Buddhist statues and symbols, he replaced them with portraits of Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Xi Jinping and other Chinese Communist leaders.

In January 2017 he gave an interview to the Chinese Communist Party newspaper Global Times, where he described himself as a “small propaganda soldier of the Communist Party in Taiwan” (共產黨在臺灣的宣傳小兵). He said that “Taiwan has always been part of China’s territory” and that he hoped that China would “soon liberate Taiwan.”

To show his loyalty to the PRC, he and his followers perform a flag-raising ceremony every day at 8 a.m., and a flag-lowering ceremony at 5 p.m., during which they sing the PRC national anthem.

However, following complaints by the nuns as well as local residents, the government of Chang-hua County found that the additional buildings Wei erected on the premises do not have the necessary permits. The authorities notified Wei that they would cut off his water and energy supply before proceeding to demolish the illegal structures.

On September 21, before the scheduled arrival of government officials, Wei held a press conference. He said that he does not recognize the government of the Republic of China (中華民國政府) and that his aim is to “overthrow the regime of the Republic of China” (推翻中華民國政權). He argued that Taiwan is part of the territory of the PRC. Then he warned the government not to lay hands on his property, threatening that whoever dared to do so would be severely punished once Taiwan was “reunified” with China.

When government officials arrived to cut his water and electricity, Wei attacked them. During the scuffle, he punched and injured a government official surnamed Zhao. Wei was subsequently arrested.

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