More than 1,000 Buddhist monks, scholars and experts from around the globe gathered for the World Buddhist Forum in Hangzhou, China.
Sponsored by China's Buddhist Association and Religious Culture Communication Association, the forum is the first major international Buddhist conference since the founding of New China in 1949.
Liu Yandong, vice-chairwoman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said at the opening ceremony that governments and peoples should work together to Buddhism.
"Buddhism has made important contribution to world peace and human civilization in the history. The forum will play a positive role in exploring how Buddhism can contribute to building a harmonious world," Liu said.
The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, was not invited. State media quoted religious affairs official Qi Xiaofei as saying his presence might cause 'disharmony.' The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against occupation by Chinese Communist troops, who took control of Tibet in 1951.
Gyaltsen Norbu, 11th Tibetan Panchen Lama, attended and addressed the gathering. Tibetans do not accept him as the Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama traditionally chooses the person for this role. His choice was rejected by the Chinese government, and its chosen Panchen Lama has been in place since 1995.
The Dalai Lama's choice for Panchen Lama is believed to be under house arrest.
© 2006 Radio Free Asia