Four years ago, eight senior monks, clad in scarlet-and-saffron-robes, filed in front of a golden Buddha and began chanting on stage in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou. It marked an important turning point in China's attitude toward religion.
This was the first World Buddhist Forum, attended by more than 1,000 monks, and held in China. Never before had the officially atheist country sponsored such a large religious conference.
The moment signaled Beijing's new proactive approach to religion and, in particular, its support for Buddhism, possibly as a counterweight to the explosion of Christianity in China.