The annual World Fellowship of Buddhists conference in South Korea was supposed to unite Buddhists from all traditions and "transcend sectarian barriers." But the fellowship instead ended up highlighting some political barriers: a delegation from China left the conference one day early to protest against the fact that Tibetans were also allowed to participate, Phayul reported.
Three Tibetans attended the conference, the Associated Foreign Press reported. In a particularly rare move, Seoul's government approved a visa for Samdhong Rinpoche, an ex-prime minister of Tibet's government-in-exile, to come to the conference. The 17 Chinese delegates in attendance were not pleased.
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A spokesman for the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) told the AFP that the Tibetan delegates were forced to leave a delegates assembly meeting after the Chinese delegates threatened a boycott. "The WFB secretary-general accepted the Chinese demand that the Tibetans leave so the meeting could go smoothly," she told the AFP.
But the Chinese delegation decided to walk out of the conference's opening ceremony Tuesday night anyway, and wanted the Tibetans to leave the conference completely. When the Tibetans refused, the Chinese left the conference early instead, The Korea Herald reported.