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Last Updated: Friday, 10 August 2007, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
China foils fake Kung Fu masters
A student from one of the Shaolin martial art schools demonstrates his skills at Changdian Chinese New Year fair in Beijing (file photo)
The real Shaolin monks are famed for their martial arts skills
The Chinese authorities say they have foiled a plot to smuggle people abroad by disguising them as martial arts performers from the Shaolin Temple.

Twelve young men were trained in traditional lion dancing and given fake passports before joining real monks going abroad, Xinhua news agency said.

They were caught trying to cross the border into Hong Kong.

One coach and a "snakehead" smuggler were said to be among those arrested in relation to the incident.

'Innocent victim'

It is estimated that every year tens of thousands of Chinese people, many from the coastal province of Fujian, pay large sums to gangs to be smuggled abroad to look for work.

Xinhua, China's official news agency, quoted a policeman in the eastern city of Changle, where the 12 men originally came from, as saying the Shaolin Temple had been an innocent victim of the conspirators.

The temple "had nothing to do with it", he said.

The 12 would-be immigrants, aged 17-19, were charged up to $90,000 (£45,000) for passage out of the country, Xinhua said. The group was reportedly headed for Canada.

The 1,500-year-old Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan province has fought hard against exploitation by martial arts schools, films, and consumer products.

It became known in the West as the training ground for Kwai Chang Caine, played by David Carradine, in Bruce Lee's 1970s Kung Fu television series.


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