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The government of Nepal has rejected a $3 billion offer from a Hong Kong foundation to turn Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, into a tourist mecca.

According to the Buddhist Channel website:

Less than a fortnight after a Chinese nongovernmental organisation announced its plan for what amounted to a virtual takeover of Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha in Nepal, Nepal’s government on Thursday unceremoniously rejected it, saying it would not entertain any deal struck in a third country without the participation of the actual stakeholders.

“Nepal is the actual stakeholder,” said Modraj Dottel, spokesperson of Nepal’s culture ministry that governs Lumbini in southern Nepal — the destination of thousands of pilgrims and Buddhist scholars worldwide, and a Unesco-declared World Heritage Site. “How can we own a deal struck in a third country without the formal consent of the actual stakeholder?”

According to the Buddhist Channel:

The unambiguous official rejection came after reports in the Chinese media earlier this month that a Hong Kong based NGO, the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation, had signed a memorandum of understanding with the UN Industrial Development Organisation for a $3 billion project to develop Lumbini into a “Buddhist Mecca”, complete with hotels, an international airport and other tourism-related infrastructure.

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