China Hosts First World Buddhist Forum

April 13, 2006

Source: BBC News

On April 13, 2006 BBC News reported, "Buddhists from more than 30 countries are in China for the World Buddhist Forum - communist China's first international religious gathering. Hundreds of monks and scholars are visiting the eastern city of Hangzhou, but Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has not been invited. China regards the exiled Tibetan leader as a separatist. It has made its choice of Panchen Lama - Tibet's second most important figure - the figurehead of the conference... 'The Dalai Lama is not only a religious figure, but is also a long-time stubborn secessionist who has tried to split his Chinese motherland and break the unity among different ethnic groups,' said Qi Xiaofei, vice-director of the state administration for religious affairs. But China is trying to thaw relations with religious establishments, including the Vatican, our correspondent says. Beijing is also hoping that the meeting in Hangzhou will ease US criticism of China's religious freedoms ahead of President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington next week, he adds."