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Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 08:03 GMT 09:03 UK
China probes Taoist ritual

The authorities in China have launched a disciplinary investigation after officials at a local court hired a Taoist priest to perform ceremonies to exorcise evil spirits.

Local Communist party officials at the People's Court in Shuangfeng County called the priest to perform a five hour ceremony, after a guard fell to his death from a window. The cost of the ceremony was charged to the court. State news reports said the case undermined the government's campaign to combat superstitious practices.

A BBC correspondent in Shanghai says the case is an example of of the revival of traditional Chinese religions which have alarmed the government.

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