Saturday, January 21, 2012

China vs. India: the battle for Buddha

With competing conferences, organizations, and cultural tours, both China and India have sought to leverage their historical ties with Buddhism for so-called soft power in the region.

India seeks to use its common cultural heritage to overcome China's ethnic ties to the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, and China seeks to limit the damage from its repression of religious freedom in Tibet and its incessant sparring with the Dalai Lama.

“This is part of China's effort to use Buddhism to gain an entry into Nepal, [and] to show to their Buddhists that they're showing equal attention to Buddhism outside the country,” Jayaveda Ranade, formerly additional secretary for East Asia with the Indian government, said of a Chinese proposal for the development of Lumbini.

Yadav, Nepal's president, made no mention of China before the crowd gathered at Buddha's birthplace, though in Kathmandu Wen pledged more than $140 million in aid for the building of infrastructure and other projects. Wen also agreed to consider Nepal's request to extend the 1,200 mile Qinghai-Tibet railway onward to Kathmandu and Lumbini....

Continue reading at Global Post.

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