A joint venture which would be authorized to sell Shaolin Temple tickets may be publicly listed on the Hong Kong or Shanghai market, according to media reports Wednesday.
The reports said Dengfeng municipal government of Henan province, where the temple is located, signed a framework agreement with China Travel Service (HK) on October 21 to establish a joint venture named Dengfeng Songshan Shaolin Culture and Travel Company.
According to the agreement, the two sides will invest 100 million yuan ($14.6 million) in the new joint venture which will go public on the Hong Kong or Shanghai bourse by 2011.
The Hong Kong travel company will hold a 51 percent stake in the venture and the Dengfeng government holding the remaining 49 percent of the company that will sells tickets to Shaolin Temple and nearby sites.
The venture would regulate all ticket sales, hotels, cable cars, movie theaters, and tourism at the temple and the agreement will be effective for 40 years.
But the temple part of the complex was not involved in the negotiation process since the government did not inform the people at the temple.
"The government did not inform the Shaolin Temple part know the agreement, because we haven't announced the operation to the public yet," said Cui Shiying, the head of the Dongfeng city party committee's publicity department.
The possible listing of Shaolin Temple led to an array of opinions.
Hong Liang, travel economist from China Galaxy Securities, pointed out that if the income from tickets sells does not belong to Shaolin Temple, it will be a great challenge for its further development since the income from admission tickets makes up the majority of the temple's income.
"Although the temple has some derived industries like martial arts school, but the incomes from these are just a small part," he said.
Executive director of China NPO Network Shang Yusheng pointed out that the listing of the temple's assets have some issues that need to be clarified, such as the temple property.
Hong also said that Shaolin Temple should be a national asset, not of Shaolin Temple itself or of the local government, and the local government does not have the right to make the decision on its own.
He added that the local government's plans could result in a negative perception of the temple, the 1,500-year-old shrine where kung fu was born, and the spiritual home of some of China's most formidable martial art exponents.
Ticket sales at Shaolin Temple average 150 million yuan annually.
Cui responded Thursday that the media reports of the "temple listing" is a misunderstanding of the issue. "The agreement we negotiated with the travel company is an overall cooperation project of the whole Songshang area, and Shaolin Temple is just one site in the area," he said, but did not disclose other details.
Agencies and Li Na contributed to the story
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