Lumbini, the birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha, was a sleepy little hamlet in Nepal until recently. Now China and India are engaged in a battle for hegemony over the site and it looks as though China is winning.
On Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda, former military commander of rebel Maoist forces in Nepal, now chairman of the Unified Communist Party and chairman of the Lumbini Development National Directive Committee of Nepal (LDNDC), inked a deal with the China-backed Asia Pacific Exchange Cooperation Foundation (APECF) that will bring in a reported $3 billion to develop Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini.
Prachanda signed this Memorandum of Understanding with Xiao Wunan, executive vice chairman of APECF Foundation. Presumably, Prachanda took it upon himself to make the deal in his capacity as chairman of Nepal’s steering committee. But leaders of other political parties, including Dr. Minendra Rijal, member of LDNDC and ex-Minister of Culture, challenged Prachanda’s right to sign the deal unilaterally.
In October of 2012, Mikel Dunham ran a piece on Lumbini’s cultural and historical integrity once again being under fire – this time with the united forces of Chinese businessmen and a UK theme park developer. Billed as an “international peace city”, the dubious Chinese government-connected Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF) and the uber-commercial Britain-based Vertical Theme Park (VTP) Group signed an agreement to aggrandize the birthplace of Buddha, transforming the quiet dignity of Lumbini into an international tourist junket destination, replete with a colossal “Cloud Tower”. (For photos and article CLICK HERE.)
Dunham’s blog is full of excellent material on Nepal – well worth bookmarking. Here is the link to a collection of his articles specifically about what is happening in Lumbini: http://www.mikeldunham.blogs.com/mikeldunham/lumbini/
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