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China adopts ‘middle way’ theme for its World Buddhist Forum

Press conference of the 5th World Buddhist Forum opened in Putian city of Fujian province. (Photo courtesy: Xinhua)
Press conference of the 5th World Buddhist Forum opened in Putian city of Fujian province. (Photo courtesy: Xinhua)

(TibetanReview.net, Oct30, 2018) – China has adopted a ‘middle way’ approach, even if only rhetorically, to stake its claim to be a protector of Buddhism irrespective of the fact that its record and recent policy measures under the ‘Sinicization of religion’ campaign respects citizens’ belief systems only with ever more tightening of controls and restrictions. On Oct 28, its fifth World Buddhist Forum opened in Putian city of Fujian province with the theme of ‘Exchange with mutual learning: Middle way for perfect harmony’.

A record number of over 1,000 Buddhists, scholars and representatives from 55 countries and regions were attending the three-day event, which was jointly hosted by the Buddhist Association of China and China Religious Culture Communication Association, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Oct 28. Both the organizers are government-constituted groups.

The report said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had sent a congratulatory letter. Buddhist organizations in countries including Japan, the Republic of Korea, Canada, the United States, Russia, Cambodia and the Philippines were also stated to have sent congratulatory letters, no doubt on solicitation by concerned Chinese government functionaries.

The report cited Xiao Hong, deputy secretary-general of the China Religious Culture Communication Association, as saying the forum’s aims were to carry forward “the positive Buddhist cultural spirits, promote exchanges between Buddhism and other religions, and make contributions to building a community with a shared future for humanity”.

The report said several parallel sessions will be held as part of the forum covering issues such as Buddhism and Maritime Silk Road, Buddhism and philanthropy, Buddhism and environment protection, and Buddhism in other parts of the world.

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