Taiwan, China to jointly host 2nd World Buddhism Forum

Taiwan and China, in a further sign of improved ties, will jointly hold the second World Buddhism Forum later this month to promote world peace, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

The China Times said that China has allowed Taiwan's Fokuangshan Monastery to join China in hosting the second World Buddhist Forum, dpa reported.

The meeting is expected to draw 1,200 monks and experts from 54 countries and regions. The participants will discuss world peace and deliver more that 100 theses related to Buddhism, the newspaper quoted Fokuangshan (Buddhist Light Mountain) Monastery as announcing.

The first part of the forum will be held March 28-30 in Wuxi, in China's Jiangsu Province. The second part, from March 30-April 2, will be held to Taiwan, the daily reported.

China's China Southern Airlines and Taiwan's China Airlines will operate five charter flights to take the delegates from Najing, capital city of Jiangsu Province, to Taiwan, it said.

The highlight of the Taiwan events will be a prayer meeting for world peace to be held at the Taipei Arena and attended by the delegates and 20,000 Taiwan Buddhists.

China proposed the first World Buddhism Forum in 2004 and won support to hold it from all Buddhist countries and major Buddhist institutions around the world.

The Fokuangshan Monastery said that the upcoming forum will address more issues than the first forum, including Buddhism education, organization, music and science.

The first World Buddhism Forum was held in April 2008 in Hangzhou and Zhoushan in China's Zhejiang Province, attended by more than 1,000 monks and scholars from 37 countries and regions.

But the forum was controversial because it was attended by Qoigyijabu, the then 16-year-old Chinese-appointed 11th Panchen Lama, the second highest leader in Tibetan Buddhism, but barred the exiled Dalai Lama, the highest leader in Tibetan Buddhism, from attending.

China is unlikely to allow the Dalai Lama to attend the second World Buddhism Forum. But if Qoigyijabu, the Beijing-picked reincarnation of the 10th Panchan Lama, visits Taiwan, he will certainly enrage the Dalai Lama's 500,000 disciples in Taiwan and anger the Taiwan public, who respect the Tibetan leader.

Hundreds of Tibetan exiles studying or working in Taiwan, who occassionally demonstrate against China's occupation of Tibet, are likely to respond to news of the co-hosted World Buddhism Forum.

The Dalai Lama, living in exile in India since 1959, drew large crowds when he visited Taiwan in 1997 and 2001 to lecture on Buddhism. He opened a representative office in 1998 in Taipei.

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