Buddhists vote India, snub China

Dalai Lama avoids comments on cancellation of Sino-Indian talks

The Global Buddhist Congregation (GBC) 2011 which concluded here on Wednesday, resolved to set up an international organization with its headquarters in India. It will help “protect, preserve and promote” the Buddhist heritage worldwide, particularly in India and Nepal”.

The move came amid speculation of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s likely visit to Nepal around December 20 to formally launch a $ 3.0 billion project funded by a Beijing-based quasi-government organization to develop Gautam Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini, about 300 kilometers away from Kathmandu.

The project is believed to be close to Nepalese Maoist leader Prachanda’s heart and involves construction of airport, highway, hotels, convention centre, temples and a Buddhist University in Lumbini. Beijing-based Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation on July 15 had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with United Nations Industrial Development Organization for the project.

The GBC-2011, which has since triggered a row between India and China, also saw the top monks and nuns from around the world again endorsing Dalai Lama – the bete noire of Beijing – as the global leader of Buddhists. The Tibetan leader, who lives in exile in India, is likely to be one of the patrons of the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) – the global body conceived at the conclave.

The IBC, based in India, is expected to be an important instrument for New Delhi to respond to Beijing’s diplomatic campaign to reach out to the Buddhists around the world.
Beijing’s objection to Dalai Lama’s participation in the GBC-2011 and New Delhi’s refusal to stop him from addressing the valedictory session led to the postponement of India-China parleys on boundary dispute, which was scheduled to take place here on Monday and Tuesday.

India’s National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and China’s State Councilor Dai Bingguo were expected to hold the 15th round of Special Representative level talks in New Delhi on the protracted boundary dispute.

Beijing was anticipating that Dalai Lama might use the forum to highlight the restrictions on religious freedom in Chinese-occupied Tibet, where at least nine Buddhist monks and two nuns – mostly from Kirti Monastery – immolated themselves to protest repression and human right violation by the authorities in the communist country.

But the Tibetan leader on Wednesday made no such attempt and instead confined his speech to religious issues, particularly seeking to dispel the perception about a conflict among the three traditions of Buddhism – Hinayana, Mahayana and Bajrayana. When the scribes asked him on the postponement of the India-China he said: “It is a political question. So, no comment.”

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