Local management committee denies rumors of 'auction' for ancient giant Buddha statue
Published: Jun 27, 2023 11:53 PM
Tourists view the statue of the Leshan Giant Buddha in Leshan City, southwest China's Sichuan Province, March 23, 2020.(Photo: Xinhua)

Tourists view the statue of the Leshan Giant Buddha in Leshan, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, March 23, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

The management committee of a 5A tourist spot featuring China's largest stone statue on a cliff - the Leshan Giant Buddha in Southwest China's Sichuan Province - has recently responded to a viral online post claiming that the precious statue had been sold at an "auction" for 1.7 billion yuan ($235 million).

A screenshot of a post titled "the Leshan Giant Buddha was sold a few days ago; 30-year operation rights also sold for 1.7 billion yuan" has recently gone viral on the Chinese internet. The post shows what it claims a picture from an auction that says "overall transfer of 30-years of operation rights for the site's tour bus services and booths."

The information shown in the screenshot was later identified as having originated from the website of the Southwest United Equity Exchange and that it was related to the transfer of operating rights to the touristic spot.

Following hot discussions by netizens, the management committee told media on Monday that the "auction did happen a few years ago," but it "was held in compliance with regulations."

Cao Zhixi, a cultural heritage management expert, told the Global Times that netizens have very likely been misguided by the post's confusing title, and that the transference of "operation rights" and "ownership of cultural heritage" are "two utterly different issues."

In its response to the post, the site's management committee noted that in accordance to relevant administrative regulations the operation rights to the site were allowed to be auctioned publicly.

Cao told the Global Times that netizens need not worry too much as at cultural heritage sites like the Leshan Giant Buddha site it is illegal to sell world heritage resources without authorization.

Built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Leshan Giant Buddha was painstakingly carved by ancient Chinese craftsmen over a period of 90 years. Some 71 meters in height, it is the world's largest stone Buddha statue.

Global Times