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Making Saints in Modern China$
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David Ownby, Vincent Goossaert, and Ji Zhe

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190494568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190494568.001.0001

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Comrade Zhao Puchu

Comrade Zhao Puchu

Bodhisattva under the Red Flag

9 (p.312) Comrade Zhao Puchu
Making Saints in Modern China

Ji Zhe

Oxford University Press

Zhao Puchu was the leader of the state-run Buddhist Association of China from the 1950s until his death in 2000. A lay practitioner in pre-Communist Shanghai, Zhao had extensive ties with the Communists (and was perhaps a secret party member) and was thus tasked with the management of the association under the new regime. He performed ably in diplomatic functions when Buddhism served as a tool in forging links with other Buddhist countries in Asia, and was particularly appreciated for his poetry and calligraphy. He served the party loyally and thus presided over considerable destruction of the Buddhist church, particularly during the Cultural Revolution, although he did try to repair some of this damage in later years. After his death, Zhao has been celebrated as a new sort of “saint,” one who administers the faith in the interests of the party-state, and his calligraphy is nearly omnipresent in Buddhist institutions.

Keywords:   Zhao Puchu, Poetry, Diplomacy, Buddhism, Communist Party, Calligraphy

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