Hacks of Chinese temple were online kung fu, abbot says

A hacker who posted a fake message on the Web site of China's famous Shaolin Temple repenting for its commercial activities was just making a mean joke, the temple's abbot was cited as saying by Chinese state media Monday.

That and previous attacks on the Web site were spoofs making fun of the temple, Buddhism and the abbot himself, Shi Yongxin was cited as telling the People's Daily.

"We all know Shaolin Temple has kung fu," Shi was quoted as saying. "Now there is kung fu on the Internet too, we were hacked three times in a row."

The Web site of the Shaolin Temple, China's most famous ancient temple for kung fu training and a major tourist spot, has been down since a fake letter attributed to the abbot was posted there two weeks ago saying he felt ashamed of the temple. The abbot regretted sacrificing the temple's sanctity to bring it expansion and fame, the fake letter said, according to a copy of the Web page cached by Google.

One online example of the Shaolin Temple's commercial endeavors is on Taobao.com, China's biggest online auction and retail site, where the temple's official store sells bead bracelets, incense burners and pricier items like official Shaolin swords for around 10,000 yuan (US$1,466).

"I do not dare to pray for the Buddha's forgiveness, I only ask that I will not go farther and farther down the no-return path of commercialization and become a sinner of Shaolin Temple and Buddhism," the fake letter on the Shaolin site said.

Earlier this month a message, written in traditional Chinese calligraphy, was posted on the temple's Web site telling Shi to "go and die."

Shi replied to the allegations of commercialism by saying he supported the abolition of entry tickets for the temple, for which the temple splits revenue with the local government, the People's Daily said. The attacks on Shaolin's Web site should spur monks to improve themselves, Shi was cited as saying, adding the temple had not considered legal action in response.

Shaolin Temple, in China's eastern Henan province, was founded in the year 495 and a group of its monks fought for the Chinese emperor during a war in the seventh century, according to the temple Web site. The iconic temple is known among tourists for the legions of young, robe-wearing devotees who practice martial arts and perform shows on its grounds.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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