August 15, 2018 / 5:59 AM / 3 months ago

Buddhist monk master in China resigns after sexual misconduct allegations

FILE PHOTO: Xuecheng, the delegate of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the abbot of the Longquan Temple, attends an opening session of the CPPCC at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 3, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - One of China’s highest-ranking Buddhist monks quit as the head of the country’s Buddhist association on Wednesday after facing a government investigation over accusations of sexual misconduct.

The abbot of Longquan Temple on the outskirts of Beijing, who is also a member of the Communist Party’s top political advisory body, has denied accusations of harassing and demanding sexual favors from several nuns.

The Buddhist Association of China said in a statement on its website that it had accepted Master Xuecheng’s offer to resign from the chairmanship and other posts on Wednesday, without elaborating on the reasons.

China’s religious affairs administration launched an investigation following accusations leveled against the abbot in a document prepared by two former monks at the monastery.

Xuecheng issued a denial on his Weibo microblog account, saying the allegations stemmed from “fabricated material” and “distorted facts”.

The case is one of the most prominent to have arisen since the #MeToo movement began to gain momentum in China.

The Chinese #MeToo-style movement came in December last year and the hashtag #MeToo has so far appeared more than millions of times on Weibo, and while issues like sexual assault have traditionally been brushed under the carpet, the movement is changing mindset among the younger generation.

Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Philip Wen

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