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China's Shaolin Temple plans to open branch in Taiwan

TAIPEI, Wednesday 15 December 2010 (AFP) - The Shaolin Monastery, an icon of Chinese kung fu, plans to open a branch in Taiwan, cashing in on the fast warming ties between the island and the mainland, a tourism operator said Wednesday.

The monastery in central China's Henan province has authorised Liu Cheng-chih, who heads a foundation that promotes tourism between the two sides, to build the Taiwanese branch.

"We've been authorised by the Shaolin Monastery to set up a branch in (the central county of) Miaoli," Liu told AFP.

The complex will stretch over 30 hectares (81 acres) and may cost up to one billion Taiwan dollars (33 million US), he said.

"The branch will help spread the legacy of Shaolin Monastery that for hundreds of years has become an important element of the Chinese culture," Liu said.

Construction is due to be completed in 2014, but monks from the Monastery may start teaching martial arts within eight months using existing facilities at the venue.

Taiwan branch will eventually provide programmes such as Chinese Zen Buddhism and Shaolin medicine, he said.

Liu said the investment plan would not have been possible if tensions between Taiwan and China had remained high and exchange of visits by people from the two sides restricted.

Ties between the former cross-Strait rivals, split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, have improved markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power in 2008 on promises of ramping up trade and allowing in more Chinese tourists.

MySinchew 2010.12.15


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