Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin(L) shakes hands with the 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu during the World Buddhist Forum in Hanghzou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province April 12, 2006. (Xinhua Photo)
HANGZHOU, April 12 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government
will go on supporting the role of Buddhism and other religions in the course of
building a prosperous and harmonious world, a senior Chinese official said here
Meeting participants at the First World Buddhist
Forum, Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's
Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said, "Building a harmonious world
requires the concerted efforts of the people of all nations and an active role
played by various civilizations and religions."
The theme of the forum -- "A harmonious world begins
in the mind" -- was very significant, said Jia, adding the forum would
strengthen exchanges and cooperation between Buddhists worldwide.
The First World Buddhist Forum is being held in the
scenic city of Hangzhou and nearby Zhoushan in the eastern Zhejiang Province
from April 13 to 16.
More than 1,000 monks and religious experts from 33
countries and the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan will attend.
The theme enunciates the call of Chinese President Hu
Jintao for a harmonious society and a harmonious world, and coincides with
"harmony", the creams of traditional Chinese culture.
Participants will focus on issues of Buddhism's unity
and cooperation, social responsibilities and peaceful missions to spur efforts
for a peaceful, prosperous and harmonious world.
Buddhism has been developing in China since its
introduction from India more than 20 centuries ago. It is estimated there are
approximately 100 million Buddhists in China.
"The Chinese government has fully implemented the
policy of religious freedom," Jia said, noting that all religions were treated
on an equal footing.
His words were echoed by Qi Xiaofei, vice-president
of China's Religious Culture Communication Association, who pledged the
government would continue to safeguard freedom in religious belief.
But the official, also deputy director of the State
Administration of Religious Affairs, acknowledged that Buddhism, with such a
long history in China, is more closely related to Chinese traditions with a
profound impact on Chinese culture.
"Chinese culture values the concept of harmony, which
is quite similar to Buddhist doctrines. That's why Buddhism is more popular in
China", he said, adding that it demanded the consensus and support of believers
as well as public understanding and cooperation for the sake of holding an
international religious conference.
"Everything hinges on the essential conditions. These
things happen naturally if conditions are ripe," he said in response to a
question on the possibility of holding international forums on other religions.
The forum, the first of its kind in China's 2000-year
Buddhist history, is sponsored by the Buddhist Association of China and the
China Religious Culture Communication Association.
The forum was first proposed in 2004 by eight disciples from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, a proposal that won ensuing support from Buddhist circles in 41 countries worldwide including Japan and the Republic of Korea. Enditem