Well that's something you don't see every day...
A joint venture between Dengfeng, the city where the ancient Buddhist temple is located, and the state-run China Travel Service (CTS) will be listed in either Hong Kong or Shanghai in 2011.
CTS (Dengfeng) Songshan Shaolin Cultural Tourist Company Ltd will have the temple's annual ticket sales of 150m yuan as part of its revenues. However, a government source said that the temple's buildings would not be included in the new company.
More than 1.6 million tourists visited the site in Henan province last year in order to visit its prayer halls and see the temple's monks perform their kungfu show. The Shaolin Temple also performs a stage show that has toured London and New York.
According to legend, the destruction of the temple by its enemies in the 17th century helped to spread martial arts across China as five fugitive monks carried their kung fu with them...
CTS is expected to take a 51[%] stake in the venture after contributing a cash investment. A spokesman for the travel agency said he could not comment on the deal. According to the Oriental Morning Post newspaper in Shanghai, the two sides signed a draft agreement on October 21 and Dengfeng city has agreed to inject 6m yuan into the venture.
The IPO will do little to help the public image of Shi Yongxin, the 44-year-old abbot who has presided over the monastery for a decade, transforming it into a global brand.
Mr Shi's critics claim that he has allowed one of the cradles of Zen Buddhism to become crassly commercial.
My first reaction was "utterly ridiculous," but on thinking about it, maybe it's not so ridiculous. After all, I did recently say that having some outside income source tends not to drive "practice for money," and I suppose as long as it's up front about what's being charged for money, it's not very much different from what some teachers in the US & Japan do, except in scale. In fact, I'd say it's substantially more ethical than charging large amounts of money for important Buddhist names, which is a charge levied against some Buddhist priests in some temples Japan.
There's more from China Daily.