India biggest hurdle for China in promoting Buddhism

Beijing: India is the biggest roadblock for China to promote its Belt and Road project through Buddhism that can also help curb terrorism and separatism, Chinese scholars have said.

At a two-day symposium of Tibetan monks and scholars in Northwest China’s Qinghai Province on Tuesday, one of them said that the Dalai Lama had set up a “separatist” base at Dharamshala in India.

China has long been resentful towards India for sheltering the Dalai Lama who it accuses of fanning separatism in Tibet. Besides, New Delhi’s opposition to Beijing’s trillion dollar Belt and Road project is another irritant in their relationship.

The gathering discussed how Tibetan Buddhism could better serve China’s Belt and Road initiative and resist separatism.

“Guided by the core socialist values, the symposium aims to encourage Tibetan Buddhism to adapt to the socialist society and teach the religion to serve the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative,” the sitetibet.cn news website reported.

“Soft power like religion, if used properly, will convert to hard power,” one of the scholars said.

Qin Yongzhang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times that Tibetan Buddhism can serve as a bridge between Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries to better communicate with each other since the religious and cultural beliefs are similar in Central and South Asia.

“One immediate challenge of promoting BRI through Tibetan Buddhism comes from India, which has been holding back for geopolitical reasons,” Qin said.

Buddhism has a significant role in curbing separatism, religious extremism and terrorism while implementing BRI because it pursues harmony and opposes violence, said Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at Tibet University in Lhasa.

The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. India is also home to some 100,000 Tibetans.

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