This article describes the First International Symposium on Cultic Studies, sponsored by the Institute of World Religions of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. Two North American participants narrate their encounter with Chinese scholars, whose views about new religions diverge markedly from those in the West. The symposium revealed the various attempts by which "cults" are defined and understood by Asian scholars, and demonstrated a concern for protecting individuals from harm and for maintaining a stable society. Taking primarily a psychological rather than a sociological perspective, many conference participants focused on individual pathologies and charismatic leaders, although there were notable exceptions. The symposium revealed an openness to listen and to engage in dialogue by all participants that promises profitable exchanges in the future.
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