Academy apologizes for Taoist blessings at nuclear project
Published: May 01, 2018 11:13 PM

The Chinese Academy of Sciences apologized on Monday for a lamb-butchering Taoist ritual held at the founding ceremony for a nuclear project in Northwest China's Gansu Province and vowed to enhance political and ideological education to avoid similar incidents.

The Beijing-based academy apologized for not restraining the behavior of its partner, claiming the ritual was "against the spirit of science" in a statement released on its official Sina Weibo account on Monday.

He Zhanjun and Cao Yuxiang, employees at the academy's Shanghai institute of applied physics, were suspended on Monday after the institute found they were present at the ritual but did nothing to stop it.

The Thorium Molten Salt Reactor Nuclear Energy System is a project developed by the academy and the Gansu government at a total cost of 22 billion yuan ($3.48 billion).

Seven officials from Minqin county, Gansu Province are also being investigated by a local discipline watchdog after pictures of the ritual went viral.

The photos showed a Taoist monk holding religious items and reciting incantations as a lamb was slaughtered and yellow papers with Taoist spells were burned in front of him.

Internet users denounced and defended the ostensibly superstitious ceremony at the launch of some of China's most advanced technology.

The heated debate, whether for or against, was valuable in attracting public attention to projects involving large amounts of public money, noted Zhao Chu, a Shanghai-based columnist and military affairs specialist.

"At a time when knowledge and sciences are advocated, we should also reserve some respect for historical and cultural heritage as well as local and religious customs," Zhao wrote in an article posted on news site on Tuesday.

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