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ARC Home > Projects > China Projects :
China Projects

China Projects

The great traditional religions of China are once again exerting influence. Thousands of Confucian, Daoist and Buddhist temples,shrines and monasteries have been re-opened and restored as religious customs are being revived. ARC is working with the Chinese Daoist Association, the Chinese Buddhist Association and the International Confucian Ecological Alliance to encourage and support their interest and involvement in protecting the environment.

The most encouraging thing has been the official response of the Chinese government in supporting this development after decades of persecution and the repression of religious ideas. The social and environmental realities of China's rapid economic development have raised pressing challenges for the authorities and they have increasingly been willing to look to China's ancient cultural traditions to find ways forward.

As a result of these developments ARC's work with Chinese faith groups has grown enormously and this website now has an extensive Chinese section for our partners and others in the People's Republic.

Daoist projects

Millions of people every year make pilgrimages to China’s Sacred Daoist Mountains; ARC is helping some of these pilgrims reflect for a moment on Daoist teachings about the environment.

The first Daoist Ecology Temple

ARC's first important project was at Taibai mountain (Taibaishan) in Central China helping to rebuild a pilgrimage temple - destroyed during the Cultural Revolution - as a Daoist Ecology Temple and setting up a series of major environmental workshops for Daoist monks and nuns. The first of these was held in July 2006, and led to the Qinling Declaration on environmental protection by Daoists in China.

Louguan: major green city development

A rich display of organic produce in the marketplace at Louguan
In early 2012 a team from ARC was able to visit the Daoist shrine at Louguan and see results of the $1.5bn investment in the city by a mix of private individuals and the Chinese government. Louguan, which is a member of the ARC-developed Green Pilgrimage Network, has been transformed into a model of sustainability through organic farming, green building design, renewable energy usage and environmental restoration.

As well as being a brilliant demonstration of good environmental practice the prestige of this vast development reflects the renewed status of Daoism in modern China.

Supporting an international Daoist presence

While the development of Daoism as a force for environmental change within China has been important, ARC has also supported the increasing visibility of the tradition outside China. In 2007 the organisation sent a representatives to the International Dao De Jing Forum in Xian, China, and delivered a powerful presentation exploring the deep-rooted links between the traditions and values of Daoism and environmental conservation.

In October 2011 ARC also sent a delegation to the International Taoism Forum, including our Secretary General, Martin Palmer, and our partner Allerd Stikker from the Valley Foundation, which sponsored the first Daoist Ecology Temple on Taibaishan.

Daoism also has an important role to play in reducing the international trade in animal body parts, often taken from endangered species like tigers, elephants and rhinoceroses. This illegal trade is highly profitable thanks to the demand for their use in commercial Traditional Chinese Medicine, a tradition that has its roots in Daoist principles of the harmony of nature. Daoist authorities, however, have pointed out that anything that has a destructive effect on nature cannot have positive medical properties so they are leading the promotion of sustainable remedies that should prove much more effective.

Link here for Daoist projects in China.

Buddhist Projects in China

In April 2006 a groundbreaking Buddhist conference in China issued two major agreements encouraging Buddhists to take practical steps to protect the environment.

From 2008 ARC worked with Chinese Buddhists and Daoists to look at the environmental impact of the tradition of burning incense when visiting shrines and temples. As Chinese people became more affluent with the country's economic growth this practice had been growing to the extent that the smoke generated was polluting the air and driving birds and insects from the holy places. The strategy has been to use more environmentally friendly forms of incense and to restrict the amounts used, and for the New Year celebrations in 2014 Chinese Buddhist leaders joined with Daoists to urge restraint in burning incense.

Link here for Buddhist Projects in China.

Mr Li Zhi, Deputy Director of the Confucius Foundatioon, presents HRH Prince Philip with books about Confucius

Confucian Projects

Like Daoism, Confucianism has also been allowed to flourish in the last decade, with hundreds of temples restored and reopened and the creation of Confucian academies to promote the tradition across China. An important milestone in the engagement of Confucianism with ARC's conservation work was marked in February 2013 when Mr Li Zhi, Deputy Director of the Confucius Foundation, attended an audience with HRH Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace, London.

During the audience, at which Prince Philip received an update on developments against the illegal wildlife trade in Africa and China, Mr Li presented Prince Philip with books explaining the principles of Confucianism. This event was picked up by the Chinese media and reported on by the China Confucian Temple website.

International Confucian Ecological Alliance (ICEA)

The links between Confucianism and the environment have been strongly identified within its revival and in 2013 the International Confucian Ecological Alliance (ICEA) was launched in the historic city of Deng Feng in Henan Province, central China. The ICEA brings together six important Confucian institutions to develop Confucian thought and action on the environment. In a historic development the Alliance produced the first ever Confucian statement on the environment which was presented to the international meeting of the Green Pilgrimage Network in Trondheim in July, 2013.

Further reading

In November 2013 the Chinese environmental website China Dialogue published a lengthy article by Martin Palmer on the valuable links between Daoism, Confucianism and the environment.

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