The Dalai Lama and China’s Quest for Buddhist Soft Power

October 30, 2018 By Dr. Rinzin Dorjee, THE DIPLOMAT

Religion, particularly Buddhism, is relevant more than ever in today’s China, whose government is expected to invest more than $1 trillion in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). On one hand, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under Xi Jinping acknowledges that religion can be used to feed the social vacuum in capitalist China. At the same time, the CCP has not strayed far from the position of  Mao Zedong, who whispered to the Dalai Lamaduring the latter’s visit to Beijing in 1954 that “Religion is poison… both Tibet and Mongolia were poisoned by it.”

Under the current leadership in Beijing, China employs Buddhism as a vital asset to resolve both the domestic crisis at home and add soft power to its diplomatic relations. Internationally, the narrative of China’s leadership of the Buddhist world is generated from its heavy investment in building Buddhist institutions in China and its engagements with Buddhist countries.[Source]

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