Monday, March 30, 2009

China calms Taiwan with Buddhism?

Reuters came out with an article on China's use of Buddhism to "calm" Taiwan (corrected link). The weirdly-titled article contains, after a discussion of Tibet, and some fine quotes from the (CCP tool) Panchen Lama, a few remarks about Master Hsing Yun, who runs Fo Guang Shan in southern Taiwan, one of the island's most important Buddhist temples:
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.

"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.
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.]

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.”

“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.
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:
Although organizers said the forum was purely a religious event, political remarks were heard throughout the meeting, drawing criticism from some Buddhists.

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.”
I wish the Reuters piece had more clearly identified the forum as a propaganda tool for Beijing.

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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Readin said...

Mr. Turton makes a good point about Reuters not mentioning Hsing Yun's past or his reasons for supporting China.

Similarly, although Reuters mentioned that the "Penchan Lama" they quoted was selected and raised by Beijing, they made no mention that the Beijing candidate is not regarded to be the Penchan Lama by many Buddhists. Nor did they say anything about the boy who was selected by the Buddhists monks to be the Penchan Lama and who was then seized by Beijing and has since disappeared.

David said...

Reuters has issued another version of the article. I am sure you were not the only one to complain about it. It still fails to tell the full story though.

Any mention of the so-called CCP installed Panchen Lama should refer to him as a fake and a fraud. The real Panchen Lama (Gedhun Choekyi Nyima) was disappeared by the CCP when he was just five years old. There has been no information about his whereabouts for 14 years. Yet Reuters obviously dares not speak truth to Chinese Communist power.

Michael Turton said...

Well, they did say in the first sentence that Panchen Lama was a CCP tool. And today's headlines should have removed any doubt that Hsing Yun is an airheaded Beijing tool. Priceless!

Michael Turton said...

David, that new version exist just to correct a spelling error. LOL.

Jenna said...

I'm really sick of hearing about "warming ties" between Taiwan and China. Warming between the two governments, maybe. But it makes it sound as if the citizens of Taiwan are warming up to the idea of Big Red...which is quite clearly not the case.

TicoExpat said...

Warming between the CCP and KMT, not even between governments. All negotiations are dealt with at party level, excluding supervision, checks and balances.

Anonymous said...


It makes good copy. Reporters/editors attempting to create a story when the old story gets stale.

Thomas said...

"I'm really sick of hearing about "warming ties" between Taiwan and China."

I was thinking exactly this yesterday. "Warming ties" seems to be the buzz-word of the hour for international news agencies covering cross-strait affairs.

It is a dangerous over-generalisation that, at once, legitimises and advocates the approach of the Ma administration. As warmth is good, an international Buddhist conference attended by China-friendly parties from both Taiwan and China necessarily becomes a positive. Moreover, as the conference is happening now, and as ties are said to be warming, the conference itself must be revolutionary. How could it not be revolutionary in a time of warming ties? And since "warming ties" is so convenient a generalisation, it would be inconvenient to include more realistic voices in the reporting.

Anonymous said...

"I'm really sick of hearing about "warming ties" between Taiwan and China. Warming between the two governments, maybe."
That's what's so funny about Mr. Ma wanting to negotiate a peace treaty between Taiwan and China. There were never any hostilities between Taiwan and China - only the CCP and the KMT. Why don't they bury the hatchet between themselves????

Anonymous 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."
Hahahahaha, now that is hilarious!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well, you see, the KMT government has the One Chinese policy. Recognizing his filial duty to the Yellow Emperor, Hsing Yun has just taken it one step further to create the "One Chinese Buddhist" policy.

Anonymous said...

Well, hope nobody will be used as political tool, either CCP tool, or tibet tool, or Taiwan indedendence tool.

Anonymous said...

"Well, hope nobody will be used as political tool, either CCP tool, or tibet tool, or Taiwan indedendence tool."

What does this mean, Anon 10:32 p.m.? It looks to me like everyone who has commented here is thinking for himself or herself. And the "Panchen Lama" is obviously being used as a CCP tool. So why say something like this when what you fear is clearly already happening? Why not begin criticizing the CCP right now?

Sorry, but what you wrote struck me as incomprehensible. Perhaps if you clarified...

Anonymous said...

just imagine catholics talking a same trash.. holy wars ahoi!

Anonymous said...

Hsing Yun is an immigrant from Jiang Su China and a former central standing committee member of the KMT.

Hsing Yun may be a monk, but he also has no balls. As soon as he came back to Taiwan, he started saying that no, no, we are all people of Earth (as if this were ever contentious). Hmm... faulty memory... saying one thing outside Taiwan and another thing in Taiwan...

Kuo Kuan-ying?

Ma Ying-jeou?

A peculiar common thread...

Michael Turton said...

He's a former Central Standing Committee member! (!@#*$&@(#*&

Anonymous said...

has served the KMT and Chinese nationalism ever since - Please check your fact clearly before making such sweeping statements. where is your evidence?

Michael Turton said...

Anon, on what planet do you live? Hsing Yun was a central standing committee member of the KMT and is a lifelong, ardent advocate of annexing Taiwan to China.

Really, do they have Google where you live?

Howard said...

I agree 100%. Fo Guan Shan and its leadership should be ashamed of themselves by saying that Taiwanese are Chinese. Why do they allow themselves to become tools of red China?

If China and the CCP are so great, how come they ran away to hide in Taiwan.

Remember that CCP China murdered 80million people since its existence. They destroyed over 6,500 Buddhist monestaries in Tibet. There used to be about 20 million monks and nuns in China before Mao. Now nothing! Nothing that is not truly free from "patriotic" state control. That is not the Dharma at all.

The Dharma is about compassion and liberation; none of these things exist in communist China! As much as I love the Dharma, The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan has it right politically. Taiwan Buddhist practicioners have got to wake up before it is too late.

Long live His Holiness The Dalai Lama.


Howard G. Fass

Bruce said...

It's funny you "Buddhists" all claim you practice compassion and tolerance. But when it comes to cases like this. Your prejudice and racism all comes flaring out from your consciousness. Please do not name drop "Dalai Lama" when you make these divisive comments.

Do you really think protesting and demonising China is really going to help Tibet and Taiwan in the long run?

Maybe it's time you "Buddhists" start practicing the Dharma, instead of just reading and talking about it?

Bruce said...

Ha ha, you "Buddhists" are so compassionate, tolerant, and wise...