Another Chinese foundation plans to raise $ 3b to make Lumbini ‘magnet for Buddhists’
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 20, 2011
Buddha Center hogged media headlines there comes news that a Chinese-backed foundation is planning to raise $ 3 billion to help Nepal develop Buddha’s birthplace.
According to Reuters, the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation plans to raise the aforesaid amount at home and abroad “to build temples, an airport, a highway, hotels, convention centres and a Buddhist university in the town of Lumbini.”
Interestingly, UCPN (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is the vice-chairman of the foundation which aims to transform Lord Buddha’s birthplace in southern Nepal “into a magnet for Buddhists in the same way as Mecca is to Muslims and the Vatican for Catholics”, the report adds.
The foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with Nepal government last month to jointly develop and operate Lumbini.
According to the report, the foundation also pledged to bring communications, water and electricity to Lumbini.
“Lumbini will transcend religion, ideology and race. We hope to rejuvenate the spirit of Lord Buddha,” Xiao Wunan, a devout Buddhist who is executive vice president of the foundation, told the news agency.
The development of Lumbini will also help boost government revenues, create jobs and improve infrastructure in the impoverished corner of Nepal, the report cited the memorandum as stating.
Xiao hopes Lumbini can bring together all three schools of Buddhism — the Mahayana, or “Greater Vehicle” which is dominant in China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan; Tibetan Buddhism; and the Hinayana, or “Lesser Vehicle” which is popular in Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
He further said that the foundation hoped to talk to New Delhi about the possibility of developing Bodh Gaya in eastern India where Buddha attained enlightenment, and Kushinagar, where he died.
In November last year, Beijing Zhongtai Jinghu Investment Company headed by the former Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Li Debiao, was granted permission by the Nepal government to start work on a Rs 8 billion construction project that was said will include a 100-meter Buddha statue and some new constructions and renovations to develop Lumbini as an International Buddha Center.
The Ministry of Culture told a leading news media back then that the project proposes construction of a 100-meter Buddha statue, excavation of the remaining part of the Maya Devi Temple, construction of an international Buddhist Museum and operation of green buses in the Lumbini region.