After the knife attack at the southwestern China’s Kunming train station that claimed 33 lives and a vehicle ploughing into tourists at Tiananmen Square in October, labelled as a suicide attack, China remains jittery.
After all the international media attention these attacks attracted, the folks that make up China’s “temple authorities” have also stepped in with a plan of their own, setting up an “anti-terrorist” squad made up of monks at one of the country’s most touristy temples, a first for such initiatives at Chinese temples.
The unit at the Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, consists of 20 monks and 25 security officers donning protective gear and carrying shields, batons and pepper spray.
As the peak tourist season approaches for this 1,700-year-old site, temple master Jueheng, also a member of the squad, said, “The Lingyin Temple receives about 10,000 visitors and worshippers every day. With this group, we can raise awareness among monks about how to respond to sudden terrorist attacks and ensure visitors’ and worshippers’ safety.”
To be considered for the anti-terrorist unit, the monks have to be robust and agile, and between 20 and 40 years of age.
Some of China’s netizens have written that they are saddened that a place of peace, serenity and contemplation has had to form an anti-terror unit. One such comment reads, “We go to the temple to purge ourselves and be free, kind and trusting. I wonder why even monks have to learn anti-terror tricks now.” Another netizen wrote, “Why can’t we leave the monks alone and just let them pray?”
Other Internet users have made light of the news, comparing it to China’s famous Shaolin Temple, best known for the training it provides in martial arts.