But there was a note of conciliation in the presence of Abbot Hsing Yun, one of Taiwan's most influential monks and an advocate for improved relations between the Dalai Lama and China.I don't understand religious leaders like Hsing Yun who advocate colonialism; I just steer clear of them. But it is interesting to note the key context that is entirely missing in the Reuters piece. It is correct to say that Hsing Yun is one of the island's most influential monks, but the Reuters piece should have mentioned that he was born in China, fled to Taiwan, and has served the KMT and Chinese nationalism ever since, advocating the annexation of Taiwan to China. He's not advocating annexation of Tibet and Taiwan to China out of some weird Buddhist commitment. [UPDATE 2: Hsing Yun, as this excellent overview of his political activities mentions, is a former KMT Central Standing Committee member.]
"All the exiled Tibetans should support China; the Communist Party should welcome them back," Hsing Yun told reporters on Friday. He noted the "positive merits" of the monk Beijing demonizes as a separatist.
Cooperating on the forum could help strengthen ties between China and self-ruled Taiwan, which have been warming since the Nationalists, or Kuomintang party, regained the presidency last year. Over 1,000 delegates fly directly to Taiwan on Monday, a trip that would have been impossible a few years ago.
"I hope for increased exchanges, back and forth. The more exchanges there are, the more people can't distinguish between the two, and that will lead to unity," Hsing Yun said.
It's also strange that the Reuters piece said it would have been impossible "a few years ago" for such a forum to occur. Strangely, a few years ago, the impossible occurred in 2006: China hosted the First World Buddhist Forum, with the same slate of attendees, including Hsing Yun from Taiwan. It might have been impossible in the 1990s, but after the Chen Administration negotiated on charter flights, it was easy.
UPDATE: Hahaha. The Taipei Times reported this morning, the day after I posted this, that Hsing Yun basically outed himself as a brainless tool of Beijing:
During a press conference at the forum on Friday in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, Hsing Yun said that “both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one family. There are no Taiwanese in Taiwan and Taiwanese are all Chinese.”Hey Hsing Yun! If we are all brothers and sisters, why are they threatening to kill us with bombs and missiles? The forum moved to Taiwan this week -- a clear indicator of its pro-annexation purposes, also identified in the Taipei Times piece:
“Which Taiwanese is not Chinese?” he asked. “They are Chinese just like you are. We are all brothers and sisters.”
Hsing Yun also said that opening the forum in China and closing it in Taiwan was especially meaningful because it would enhance cross-strait exchanges and help the unification of the two sides, the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ta Kung Pao reported on Saturday.
“The more [cross-strait] exchange we have, the more mixed we will be. Then we won’t be able to distinguish who’s Mainland [Chinese] and who’s Taiwanese — and we will naturally become unified,” Hsing Yun was quoted as saying.
Although organizers said the forum was purely a religious event, political remarks were heard throughout the meeting, drawing criticism from some Buddhists.I wish the Reuters piece had more clearly identified the forum as a propaganda tool for Beijing.
Daphne Young (楊馥華), a Taiwanese Buddhist and a member of the support group Taiwan Friends of Tibet, said the forum was a good example of political meddling in religion.
“The forum opens in China and closes in Taiwan — it’s obvious that they’re trying to create the impression that Taiwan is part of China,” Young said. “From what Taiwanese Buddhist leaders said at the forum, it’s also obvious that they are politically motivated.”
Young said it was ironic that China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs chief Ye Xiaowen (葉小文) attended the forum.
“Ye is the main person behind the new law regulating reincarnation of monks in Tibetan Buddhism, which destroys a core tradition in Tibetan Buddhism,” she said.
Tibetan Buddhists believe that spiritual leaders return through reincarnation. A set of procedures exists to identify reincarnated spiritual leaders. However, China adopted a law last year that stipulates that all reincarnations have to receive state approval.
“If [the Buddhist leaders] are benevolent enough, they should pay some attention to Tibetan Buddhists in Tibet who are repressed by the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] regime,” Young said.
Another senior Taiwanese Buddhist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had been invited to both last year’s and this year’s World Buddhist Forum, but rejected the invitation “because I don’t want to become a CCP tool in its unification war.”
UPDATE 3: Satirist Johnny Neihu ripped both Hsing Yun for essentially advocating ethnic cleansing by assimilation and the DPP for its display of wussiness against facism when it comes wrapped in the robes of religion:
For me, the most interesting aspect of this saga is not Hsing Yun’s tryst with the Chicoms but the response of those who ought to be aggrieved by all of this. According to the Neihu News Network (NNN) on Thursday, a few independence supporters spoke out, as did the ever-reliable Presbyterian Church, with the Reverend William Luo (羅榮光) accusing Hsing Yun of being prejudiced against Taiwanese and joining China’s United Front.
Hsing Yun responded to this by claiming he had said nothing remarkable and that attacks on him were worse than what used to happen in the “autocratic era,” NNN reported.
Yes, he really said that, too.
When a powerful Buddhist figure comes out with words advocating a form of cultural eugenics and stoking ethnic divisions — by denying the existence, or the entitlement to exist, of a group — it is the main opposition party that must lead the way.
Instead, the DPP responded to this venerable vilification with almost complete silence — apart from the whooshing sound of its legislators ducking for cover.
Forget consecutive election losses and quarreling over primaries. No greater illustration of the weakness and vulnerability of the DPP can be found than its utter helplessness over this incident.
You can advocate the total obliteration of Taiwanese by assimilation while denying that Taiwanese exist, but if people point out that you're a pro-China buffoon, they must be "autocratic."
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