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China unification 'inevitable,' says Taiwanese monk

'There are no Taiwanese in Taiwan,' claims Master Hsing Yun as forum arrives in Taipei

Yeh Hsiao-wen, Director of the China National Religions Office, greets attendees at the 2nd World Buddhist Forum and Welcoming Banquet March 30 at the...
China unification 'inevitable,' says Taiwanese monk

Buddhist Forum Welcoming Banquet held at Grand Hotel

Yeh Hsiao-wen, Director of the China National Religions Office, greets attendees at the 2nd World Buddhist Forum and Welcoming Banquet March 30 at the...

A peripatetic Buddhist conclave backed by the Chinese government wrapped up yesterday in Taiwan amid support from the ruling Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) and identification with Beijing's aims for both the island and Tibet.
"The World Buddhist Forum," which opened in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi on Saturday, is the latest example of rapidly improving relations between China and Taiwan.
It featured a mainland-born Taiwanese Buddhist master spouting Beijing's line on the inevitability of unification between the sides, and a high-level Tibetan monk refuting Tibetan claims that Chinese actions in the Himalayan region undermine religious freedom there.
Taiwan and Tibet share similar predicaments in their relations with China.
Both are territories that Beijing believes should be under its rule. Despite a failed 1959 uprising that sent the Dalai Lama into exile, China controls Tibet and has refused the Tibetan religious leader's demand for greater autonomy.
While Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, Beijing still regards the democratic island as part of its territory, and has threatened war if it moves to make its de facto independence permanent.
Flawed DPP policies
Conference co-sponsor Master Hsing Yun, a mainland-born Taiwanese Buddhist leader, said during the conference that the previous government's pro-independence policies were flawed, because Taiwanese and Chinese belong to the same family, and unification is inevitable.
"There are no Taiwanese in Taiwan while there are many Chinese in Taiwan," he said.
His pro-China remarks were echoed by the Panchen Lama - rapidly emerging as Beijing's choice to supplant the Dalai Lama as Tibet's designated religious leader - who praised the mainland for its "social harmony, stability, and religious freedom."
"I sincerely thank the (Communist) Party for giving me these bright eyes to allow me to tell right from wrong, to recognize who really loves the Tibetan people and who is willing to take any measures to destroy the peace and stability in Tibet for their own purposes," he said.
Magnet for KMT officials
After the conference moved to Taipei yesterday, it became a magnet for senior officials from the island's ruling Chinese Nationalist Party, including party Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin.
Taiwan's president, a Nationalist, Ma Ying-jeou is a strong supporter of closer economic and political ties with China.
Since taking office last May, Ma has turned the corner on his predecessor's pro-independence line, sanctioning a rapid expansion in commercial relations across the 100-mile (160 km) wide Taiwan Strait, and pushing for a formal peace treaty with Beijing.
He also reversed previous Democratic People's Party government policy on the Dalai Lama, declaring that he would not allow the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit the island.
In another sign of the Buddhist conference's pro-China inclinations, it hosted Hong Kong Home Affairs Secretary Tsang Tak-sing, who became the first senior official from the former British colony to visit Taiwan since it reverted to Chinese control in 1997.
Known for his pro-Beijing views, Tsang once served as a representative to the National People's Congress, China's rubber-stamp parliament.