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Politics dominate China’s Second World Buddhist Forum

April 5, 2009

Tibetan Review
April 3, 2009

China co-organized its second World Buddhist
Forum with a Taiwanese religious group in Wuxi in
Jiangsu Province and Taipei from Mar 28 to Apr 1
by trumpeting three key facts: that the Chinese
government appointed Panchen Lama Gyaltsen Norbu
delivered his speech at the forum’s opening
ceremony in fluent English, that there was
religious freedom in “liberated” Tibet, and that
the Dalai Lama was not among the over 1,700
delegates from nearly 50 countries and regions
attending it because he, being a “splittist”, did not deserve an invitation.

However, the most famous figures the official
China Daily newspaper Mar 28 cited were its own
publicised Panchen Lama Gyaltsen Norbu and
Venerable Master Hsing Yun, founder of the Fo
Guang Shan Buddhist Order in Taiwan.

The forum’s theme was, "A harmonious World, a Synergy of Conditions".

Although panel discussions were held in 17
sub-forums on nine topics, including "the
opportunities and challenges faced by Buddhist
education", "Buddhism and environmental
preservation", "Buddhism and science", and "a
harmonious development of Buddhist thoughts and
business", the overriding aim and consideration
was the political aspect of the forum. In
particular, photos and praises of Gyaltsen Norbu
were ubiquitous in almost every report on the forum.

Taiwan was also a focus. "The improved relations
across the Taiwan Strait since last year made the
forum possible," Xinhua Apr 1 quoted Wu
Poh-hsiung, Chairman of Taiwan’s the Kuomintang
party, as saying. "This is very significant."

China held its first World Buddhist Forum in Apr
2006, in Hangzhou and Zhoushan of Zhejiang
province. It met with little success in trying to
promote Gyaltsen Norbu as a major Buddhist figure.

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