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November 13, 2009

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Hacker ridicules Shaolin abbot

A HACKER has broken through the legendary kung fu defenses of Shaolin Temple by paralyzing its Website and faking a letter from its abbot saying he was "deeply sorry" for exploiting the Buddhist heritage in the hustling commercial world.

The letter, written under the name of abbot Shi Yongxin, appeared on the news section of the Shaolin Website at around 3am on Wednesday along with a picture of Shi meditating.

The letter said Shi was ashamed because the nearly 1,500-year-old temple had "lost itself and tilted from its proper position in the world." It also said Shi accepted guilt for the temple's fall.

The letter went on to listed the "sins" of the abbot including auctioning the temple's secret martial arts scripture, holding a kung fu talent show and sending monks to Las Vegas to perform.

The letter said Shi destroyed the solemnity of Shaolin in exchange for fame.

The Website has been unavailable since early Wednesday. The temple's Webmaster, surnamed Li, said it will take at least two days to repair the site and that cyber attack was the second in a week. The matter has been reported to police.

Monk with an MBA

The post was defamatory, said Shi Yanyu, a senior monk at the temple. He said the abbot was on a business trip and would never write such a letter. The abbot could not be reached for comment.

Shaolin Temple is famous for its influence on Chinese martial arts. But Abbot Shi has generated controversy with bold business moves, including starting a beverage factory using Shaolin's "secret recipe," taking over other temples and creating overseas branches in the United States and Hong Kong.

In its latest move, the legendary temple in Henan Province said it will spend 2 billion yuan (US$292.9 million) on rebuilding its northern branch in Tianjin Municipality.

Shi, the first monk in China with a master of business administration degree, was dubbed the "CEO" of Shaolin by the Discovery Channel. Though Shi has received plenty of online criticism accusing him of betraying his Buddhist beliefs, the abbot has denied he is exploiting the temple for commercial gain.


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