BEIJING – Chinese border police collared a dozen would-be illegal immigrants masquerading as the famed kung fu monks of Shaolin Temple, state media reported Friday.
The 12 had joined a team of genuine martial arts masters headed to Canada for performances, the Xinhua News Agency said.
Their sole experience with martial arts was a one-day training session at a hotel to teach them the basics of the art of Chinese lion dancing, it said. Xinhua said the group was stopped after border guards' suspicions were aroused, but gave no details.
It quoted a policeman in the eastern city of Changle, from which the bogus monks originally came from, as saying the Shaolin Temple had been an innocent victim of the conspirators, led by a pair of martial arts coaches and a local people smuggler, or "snake head."
"The Shaolin Temple had nothing to do with it," Xinhua quoted the officer, identified by his surname, Wang, as saying.
The coaches and trafficker had charged the 12 hopeful immigrants, aged 17-19, up to US$90,000 for passage out of the country, Xinhua said.
The 1,500-year-old Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan province has fought hard against those its sees as exploiting its name for martial arts schools, performances, movies and consumer products.
In recent years, it has set up a corporation, Henan Shaolin Temple Industrial Development Ltd., and trademarked the names "Shaolin" and "Shaolin Temple."