Chinese authorities are looking into allegations by a whistleblower that a Shaolin abbot had sexual relations with a number of women and fathered illegitimate children.

According to state media, the State Administration for Religious Affairs said it would order its bureau in Henan Province to look into rumours surrounding the abbot, known as Shi Yongxin.

Shaolin abbot Shi Yongxin has been embroiled in controversy over allegations he is leading a double life. Photo: Sina.
A whistleblower claimed Shi Yongxin fathered illegitimate children, including one with a nun. Photo: Sina.

Rumours about the double life of Shi Yongxin emerged after a whistleblower called Shi Zhengyi posted the allegations on various online forums. Shi Zhengyi is reported to be a former follower of the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province.

The whistleblower appeared to back up a number of his claims with documents and photographs, including papers dating back to the 1980s that purportedly showed the Shaolin temple’s decision to expel Shi Yongxin for “applying for reimbursement with fake receipts” and “having serious financial problems.”

Side-by-side comparison of Shi Yongxin’s multiple identites. Photo: Sina.

The whistleblower also provided copies of documents showing the abbot’s two national identity numbers with different birth dates, and copies of the birth certificate of one of his illegitimate children.

It is not the first time the abbot has been embroiled in controversy. He has been dubbed the “CEO monk” for running the Shaolin temple like a business. Controversial business ventures have included plans to build a US$297 million 500-bed hotel complex in Australia, which would have included a temple, a live-in kung fu academy and a golf course.

Leaked documents purportedly showing Shi Yongxin being expelled from the Shaolin temple.

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Vicky Wong

Vicky is a British-born Chinese journalist with three years of experience covering UK politics. She previously worked for PoliticsHome and has interned at Sky News and CNN International. She also co-produced and filmed a documentary about the Hong Kong protests for MSNBC, which won the grand student prize at the 2015 Human Rights Press Awards. She has a BA in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading and moved to Hong Kong in 2014 to complete a journalism masters at the University of Hong Kong.