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December 18, 2009

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Officials deny report of Shaolin Temple listing

A LOCAL government yesterday denied a report it was trying to have the world-famous Shaolin Temple listed on the stock market in two years.

The government of Dengfeng, Henan Province, did admit it was negotiating with China National Travel Service (HK) Group Corporation (HKCTS) on cooperation in tourism of Songshan Mountain, home to the Shaolin Temple, but said "no formal contract has been inked yet."

"Sixteen cultural relics of national and provincial levels, including the Shaolin Temple, in the area will not be managed by the new joint venture," a statement said.

According to the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post, the Dengfeng City government had signed a framework agreement with the Hong Kong-based company to establish a joint venture with 100 million yuan (US$14.7 million), which was to manage the tourism-related assets of the 1,500-year-old temple.

The newspaper said the HKCTS would take a 51-percent stake and the venture was to be listed in 2011.

The report sparked criticism of the Dengfeng government, as critics say it is selling state assets at a low price and the agreement would hurt the feelings of Shaolin monks and religious people.

"We are against being listed and this attitude will never change," said Qian Daliang, head of the intellectual property and intangible assets management center of the Shaolin Temple, who often acts as spokesman for Shaolin's abbot, Shi Yongxin.

Qian said Shaolin Temple and Shaolin culture belonged to all the people.


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