翻译:张博树:西藏问题的根本出路

张博树:西藏问题的根本出路

3 月份以来,西藏与奥运搅在一起,成为世界瞩目的焦点。国内短视的政治家沾沾自喜于煽动民族主义的小伎俩,一方面操控国内舆论,用所谓“主流民意”对抗国际社会的批评,另一方面抓紧对藏区的整肃,以期平安度过奥运。殊不知,今天的西藏问题已经成为影响中国未来的重大的危机因素。解决西藏问题需要大勇气、大智慧,小伎俩则可能葬送西藏,也葬送中国。

西藏问题究竟是如何发生的?

西藏问题首先是人权问题。

尽管当权者不愿意承认,我还是要直言,这个令中共领导人头疼的问题,究其源,实在是执政的中国共产党自己一手造成的。

我们不用把历史扯得太远。从元至清西藏政府与北京的关系是宗属关系还是平等关系,学界有争议,我们可暂且搁置,不去管它。重要的是1912 年以后的西藏确实有相当长一段时间处于事实上的“独立”状态。这种状况直到1951 年西藏地方政府与北京中央政府签署“西藏和平解放”的十七条协议,才宣告结束。虽然这个协议也是城下之盟的产物(昌都之役解放军重挫藏军, 已经打开进军西藏的大门),但总的讲,协议内容是温和的,也是建设性的。协议强调西藏是中国的一部分,同时认可西藏的现行制度不变、达赖喇嘛的地位不变,可谓当代中国最早的“一国两制”。1954 年,19 岁的达赖和16 岁的班禅双双进京参加第一次全国人大,成为毛泽东的座上宾,被分别安排为全国人大副委员长和全国政协副主席,西藏前途似乎一片光明。问题暴露始于1955 年。毛泽东的乌托邦社会改造工程从这一年开始加速,并迅速从内地波及昌都和川、滇、青、甘各省的藏区。这些地区不受十七条协议的约束,“民主改革”轰轰烈烈。激进的共产党地方领导人试图将“民主改革”和“社会主义改造”一次完成,“一步登天”,强力打击农奴主和他们的“代理人”,没收寺院的土地、财产,大力推行集体化,诋毁藏人的宗教信仰,强迫上层人士和喇嘛僧人“改造思想”,结果引起藏人的不满、反抗。195658 年,各地藏区武装叛乱从小到大,此伏彼起,但旋即遭到解放军的强力“平叛”、“会剿”。数以万计的康巴和安多藏人西涉金沙江,逃进西藏,这就为1959 年的拉萨“叛乱”埋下了种子,也为这样的“叛乱”何以能够发生、乃至何以必然发生提供了最基本的历史线索。

后边的事情就不用细说了。拉萨“平叛”胜利标志着中央政府用武力获得了对包括西藏在内的整个藏区的绝对控制权,也标志着西藏快速进入“社会主义”的开始。象我这个年龄的中国人是听着“雪山上升起了红太阳”之类的歌曲、看着《农奴》这样的电影长大的,那时真的相信在党的领导下“翻身农奴”们早已过上了幸福的生活。后来看了大量材料,才知道这些宣传有许多不真实的地方。中国共产党的党专制体制,领导人的无知、狂妄,以及他们在藏区推行的一套极“左”政策,给西藏僧俗人民带来深重的灾难。1962 年,位列“国家领导人”的班禅喇嘛致信国务院总理周恩来,痛陈他所看到、听到的藏人经历的种种苦难。由于班禅绝无反对共产党领导之意,而是披肝沥胆向党反映藏区真实情况,所以这份被称为“七万言书”的文件可视为那个年代描述藏民苦难状况的可靠文本。不妨在这里摘引几段:

――关于在藏区开展“阶级斗争”:“大部分或者不少地区,干部对运动是否细致和质量好不加考虑,一追求轰轰烈烈和恐怖尖锐,不看打击是否确,而把规模和数量为主要的目标”, 打击了多不打击的人。往往“被斗者虽然没有特别重的行和过,也要造许多重的行,并夸大,随心颠倒是非”。许多无的人不得已逃下来的人也生活在恐惧之中。

――关于藏区人民生活:“由于农地区发生了五风和对粮食抓得过紧,以及对群众留粮的标准低,因而造成口粮很紧”,有不少家口粮”,在一些地方至发生了饿死人的情况。“过去西藏虽是黑暗野蛮治的社会,但是粮食并没有那样,特别是由于佛教传广,不论贵贱任何人,都有济贫施舍的好习惯讨饭也完全可以生,不会发生饿死人的情况,我们也从来没听说过饿死人的情况。”

――“专政”造成大量人非正常死:“平叛”结束后,“全西藏关押犯的数达到了总人数的分之几,这是历史上所没有过的。”1959 年毛主席,由于西藏人少,应采取人或只杀极少数人的政策,但事实与此相反。上层人士的监狱情况,大部分关押普通犯人的监狱管理极其糟糕管人员不关心犯人的生活、康,恫吓打的事情时有发生。更甚者,监狱管理者“意把地势高低寒暖差大的北上下的关押犯迁去,以致土不被不能体,褥垫不能防潮帐篷房屋饱腹等等,生活十分凄惨,还起早摸黑动,并由于把最重最苦的动活给那些人去干,因而使那些人不可抵御地出现体力日衰疾病很多,加以休息充足医疗不完使大量关押犯遭到非正常的死。”

――关于宗教民族问题:“在所谓‘破除迷之下,反对宗教此其一;消灭、佛经和佛此其二;千计地使还俗此其。”在要还俗时,“首先在各寺以所谓习’发动义,将僧集中在大经或大子内,不分昼夜地紧张地学和强迫动员其相进行批评,尖锐的斗争浪潮;表示了信仰宗教的人,信分子和不喜革命等各种子,进行无法忍受的没头没的斗争和打击”。者,些地方“竟有喇嘛一边,尼姑和俗女站一边,强迫他()们挑选”的现象发生。在西藏,有各类寺2500 座,“民主改革”后仅剩70 ;原有僧总数约11 万人,1 万,也还有10 万,“民主改革”后仅剩7000 人。特别不能容的是一些地方“然无污辱宗教,把《大藏经》用于沤肥料,专门把许多的佛和经书用于制鞋原料等,何道理由于了许多子也难出的行为,因而使各阶层人民诧异透顶心绪混乱至极,极度灰心丧气,中流称:我们的地方成了地方(西藏俗,指没有宗教的地方)”1

呜呼!读着这样的文,我自己的也在流到发

这些问题中的大部分内地也有,但在西藏却具更恶劣的性质,以形式表现出来,加以放大。无论当政者试图用自己的社会理想改造西藏的始动机有多少意乃至崇高的成分, 造成这样人听的结果都是一种罪恶,是一种由于无知、狂妄、狂和狂暴造成的罪恶!

在这种情况下,10 数万流度和海外其他地方的藏人呼吁全世界关西藏人权、西藏问题成为全瞩目的标志性问题之一,什么奇怪何况,当时还是冷战时期,西藏自然成为东西方意识形力和中、等不同国家基于民族国家利的一个交汇点。国中央情报局向西藏流人员提供金、技术等方面的支持,这种支持乃是制“ 共产主义张”力的一个成部分。中国人当然可以大骂美妄图“分中国”,居心叵测,但来,如果共产党自己不在西藏干了那事,得那多藏人四处流, 别人又怎么可能说道四,或者愣往里边

这里还没有说到文革。这“史无前”的“革命”一来,因为它“红”、“左”、,自然给西藏带来了大的灾难。本文就不再赘述。

开明的中共领导人反思“左”给西藏带来的灾难

客观地讲,中共领导人中不开明人士,他们在不同时期、不同位上制西藏工中的“左”的做法,尽管在那个大的历史背景下,能够得的成果有

西北出身、60 年代曾任国务院副总理兼秘书长的习仲勋,一直负责同班禅系,对班禅《七万言书》、向中央反映情况的过程十分清,也因此上“就、放班禅”的罪名。中共八届十中全会后习仲勋免职了“利用小说进行反党”这个主要罪名外,“就、放班禅”也是一条状。另一免职的中共员是老资格的共产党人、从1947 年起就出中共中央统战部长的李维汉1962 4 月到5 月,北京开民族工会议,会上一些民族宗教界人士发尖锐的意李维汉表现得十分冷静坦诚,他表示欢迎大家的批评,对严厉指出共产党的一些做法“太”的藏传佛教大绕嘉措甚至给予很高的评,称他“光明磊落如明”,是“民族宗教界一面国的旗帜”。但李维汉做法后来受到毛泽东的严厉批评,说“统战部不抓阶级斗争,搞投降主义”。2

文革结束后,西藏百废待举,民族政策、藏关系需要调整,藏民的生活需要改1980 5 月,刚刚在中共中央总书记职务上走马胡耀邦和万里一起飞赴西藏考察,在机上胡耀邦就对行的新华者讲“我们在民族地区的政策,一要实事是,因地制,要重西藏人民实行民族区自治的自主权,这是一问题的关所在”。5 29 胡耀邦在西藏自治区干部大会上作报告,强调西藏发展必解决的“件大事”:第一是“要在中央的一领导之下,分行使民族区自治的自治权利”,“中央和中央各部门发的文件、指规定是不适合西藏情况的,们不要执行。”“们根据你们自己的特点,制定具体的令、法规、条保护你们自己民族的特殊利。”第是“根当前西藏相当难的情况,要决实行休养的政策,要大大减轻群众负担。”“我们确在几年之内,去西藏人民的征购任务。”第,“西藏要实行特殊的活政策,便进生产的发展。”第四“要把国家支援你们的大量经,用到进发展农牧业和藏族人民常迫需要的用上来。”第五,“要在坚持社会主义方向的前提下,发展藏族的学文化教”。胡耀邦特别强调,“视西藏的历史、文、艺术是完全错误的。……热爱少数民族不是讲空话,要重他们的风俗习惯重他们的言,重他们的历史,重他们的文化,没有这个就叫空口白话。”最后一条,要藏族干部自己管理西藏,争两年内,藏族干部产干部总数的分之以上。“我们到这个地方,十年,完成了历史务嘛”现在西藏“队三十万族同志,这怎么呢!”以上这些,可以简单概括为,那就是“免税、放开、人”,此即胡耀邦为解决西藏问题力主推行的“非常措施”。3

这些主张,中时,当时即受到藏区上下的欢迎。当然,由于历史条件所,包括胡耀邦在内的中共开明领导人还没有能把西藏发生的问题上升到制度层面去检讨、去反思。胡耀邦在5 29 的大会上就强调不要历史细应该结起来向前看”。4 这反映了胡耀为政治家的老练、机,也折射出中共一代改革者的苦乃至无竟,当代西藏历史中的悲剧是和共产党的这个体制、和这个党推行的社会政策直接联系的,是这些政策的后果。不从根本上反思西藏问题产生的根源,就不可能真的解决这些问题。

改革年代西藏问题的新症候

改革开放、特别是进入90 年代和以来,中国的经有了大的发展,中央政府也的确向西藏入了金,制了一系列加快西藏发展的特殊优惠政策和措施成了国家直接投资西藏建设目、中央政府实行财政补贴、全国进行对口支援等全方位支援西藏现代化建设的格局,西藏经发展的总体平有了大提。但政治体制然如,党控制藏区政治、经、文化、宗教事务的总格局依然如为自治区、实际上并没有真正意义上的自治的可状况然如,西藏问题的核心并未真的解决,而且在的社会条件下产生了一系列问题。

市场变成权,内地如此,藏区同样如此。党专制体制和开放政策的结造就了的特权阶层,包括人,也包括那些在党政机和文化机构任职的藏人。面对经中内地人的蜂拥而入,拉萨等地的普通藏民大有被视乃至被边化的感觉的是无不入的宗教控制。从外表看,西藏的宗教生活已经恢复,国家花巨资维护那些标志性的佛教建,寺香火旺盛也不会发生把《大藏经》沤肥的事情。但这是事情的一个方面,是事情的面,问题还有真实、的一面被这种在的、有面的东西隐瞒了、遮蔽了。对西藏问题究的独立学者雄曾多次深入藏区考察,他的结论是:西藏并无真正的宗教自由。一方面,政府对登的寺宗教活动加管理,限定僧人“制”,禁止之间“串联”,规定不许宣传宗教另一方面,对自发的、政府控制之的宗教活动则严格取缔,绝不能使之产生影响。在康巴藏区,距离色拉县城不远的喇容山有一座五明佛学院,1980 创办30 多人,到了90 年代,已有藏众近万人,致政府的恐慌。当局严令佛学院规模规定原有的4000 藏族众只保留400 人,4000 众只准保留1000 人,1000 多来学佛的人则必全部开。这个要遭到院方主活佛的绝,因为对出家人来说,僧人还俗属于最重的破戒行为。政府于是自己动手,人强众居住房屋2001 7 10 达到拆房高峰,一天之内拆掉房屋1700 多座。“我听在的人描述当时面,一边是房屋声音此起彼伏,尘烟四起,一边是上千尼姑抱头痛天动地。那一段五明佛学院周山上到处都是成的流浪女尼,风宿躲避政府的追捕。”5

严格控制宗教的一个致命的结果是造成藏传佛教传承的可怕断裂。传西藏宗教本来有一套内部制约系如达赖、班禅虽有“世”制度,但格鲁派僧和寺持却实行期制, 由有真才实学的喇嘛争,获胜者才能成为葛丹寺主,且是达赖、班禅的当然老师。这个制度几延续保证了藏传佛教正教义的代际相传和“僧大”的不。但1959 年后这个延续过程被中80 年代至今,虽然面上宗教活动得以恢复,宗教的核心――通虔诚的信仰、深入的佛学钻研和教化活动启迪众――却已经难觅踪影。执政当对现逆淘汰选拔机制,“坚持宗教则、当当的僧都会遭到打整肃,判刑警示其他僧侣;对那些保持沉默、不惹麻烦,传地位比较高的僧,则当作‘统战对象给一定甜头,也把大终举在他们头顶;而对个人利至上,机,放宗教则,甘当政府工的僧,则给各种好处,安排人大、政协至政府官职,对其活动大开绿灯,提供源,使其成为吸引其他僧的样板”。总之,“今中共虽然标榜宗教自由,但是其宗教政策对佛教的破坏,并不毛泽东时代少。毛泽东是要彻底佛。历史上西藏也有过佛年代,但佛教仍然得以延续,因为宗教是在信徒的中,不能被在暴力消灭。而今中共的宗教政策造成僧阶层整体堕是佛教最致命的危险。”6

正是由于上述一,尽管西藏过去30 年来经上有了长的进步,普通藏人的生活也有了改, 有了提,但藏人还是不满意,藏区还是“事情”不,西藏问题仍然是一个“问题”,且不被国际社会所关。今年3 月份以来发生的“事情”,不过是这个没有中过的演变过程的最发展而已。

妖魔化达赖喇嘛愚至极

3.14“打、砸、抢、事件”发生后,中国政府立宣称这是“达赖集”指使、操纵的结果。4 月份奥运圣传递中出现的冲突,当局又断言是“达赖集”唆使“藏独分子”所为,目的在破坏奥运,为“西藏独立”张目。

用“分问题”代替人权问题,从根本上说,源于当权者的治需要,这是明人一看即知的事儿。但一要把屎盆子扣到达赖喇嘛头上,体现了中共传政治逻辑的荒谬无理,也暴露出执政者缺乏长远的识见和政治智慧。

达赖喇嘛是藏传佛教的精神领,也是当今世界备受关的政治人物。当年达赖仓皇出逃时才24 岁,半个世的流经历已经使这位藏族智者把佛门的深邃、宽宏和自由民主等当代人类文明的值融在一起。早在1987 年,达赖喇嘛就提出了解决西藏问题的“五点和平建议”,包括“使整个西藏变成一个和平区”、“中国放向西藏地区移植人政策”、“重西藏人民的根本人权和民主权利”、“恢复保护西藏的自然环境”以及“就西藏未来的地位和西藏人民与中国人民之间的关系问题挚的谈”。1988 年达赖喇嘛提出“斯特拉斯堡建议”,主张“西藏当成为一个由它自己配的民主的政治实体,同中人民共和国保持‘联关系”、“由中国政府负责西藏外交事务,但是西藏政府在国可以设立宗教、文化等方面的外交办事处”等等。7 年来,达赖喇嘛是在多种场合明确表示不寻西藏独立,藏区的真正自治在方和实现途径上,力主和平非暴力的“中间道路”,过与中央政府的真、谈解决问题。2002 年以来,达赖的特使已经同北京统战部的行过次会谈, 向中共执政当详细解释达赖喇嘛“中间道路”的立,但没有获得北京方面的回应

中共的僵硬姿态从当政者的传政治立好理解:西藏制度安排早就“大”,还有什么好谈的?认可达赖所说的“自治”将动摇党国根基,不可能有何松。在这个意义上,“会谈”对中共方面是敷衍,秀,当然不会有何实质性的进展。但这种拖延却给达赖方面带来越来越大的麻烦,因为达赖喇嘛有一个如何向他的海外藏人体和国内信众交代的问题。

海外藏人有各种各样的织、体,政治立也不尽相同。其中激进者如来引起人们关的“西藏青年会”(藏青会),其政治主张就与达赖喇嘛的“中间道路”差异甚大。这个织成立于1970 年,主要由流藏人的第代或第成,目前已有数万人规模,在全世界40 多个国家设有分会。藏青会最初赞成非暴力,但这些年态度发生变。2007 年这个开年会时,它的领导人就表示:达赖喇嘛倡导非暴力没有,但这长时间没有结果,“ 多人不相信了,这条路”。通怎么办?藏青会倾向于用暴力解决问题,包括在藏区酝酿“人民起义运动”。说已有700 多藏人自愿报名,要“不惜生命”来捍卫自己的“主张”。8 达赖本人则明确表示反对何诉诸暴力的企图和行动,如果真有这样的事情发生,他能以“辞”以示心迹。就在几天前,达赖受《亚洲周刊》访时还谈到,他相信放弃追求西藏独立、争取高度自治的中间道路仍然是流藏人中的主流民意,也是藏区人民的主流民意。对于藏青会要西藏独立,达赖喇嘛明,他告藏青会不要激进道路,但他无下命令藏青会闭嘴。9

北京可以不完全相信达赖喇嘛的表白,因为消除长期成的政治敌意需要时间、需要面对面的沟通;但不分青红皂地一把对方妖魔化,把达赖说成是“藏独”的总后台,是“披着袈裟的豺狼”,一要全国共诛之,天下共之,这样的结果,却只能把达赖置于尴尬的境地(当他试图给藏人中的激进加影响时),也把中共自己置于政治上的死(一副生、僵硬的专制者面),丢了政治谈有的地。这难道不是极其愚做法么

当然,归根结底,是中共顽固而僵化的传政治逻辑在祟,在这个逻辑关系中,没有平等谈的对手,死我活的敌人;更是当政者的利逻辑在祟,根这个逻辑,西藏“自治”要不得,它将对党国体制成根本的威胁,也对一大这个体制内的得利成威胁。在这样两个逻辑面前,达赖喇嘛的被妖魔化,也变得容易理解了。但是,天理何在?中民族大家的根本前途何在?看着来被精鼓噪起来的外新“拳民”幼稚而浅薄的“国主义”、“民族主义”狂,反我们这个国家面临的真正深入骨髓的问题,真到五杂陈,不能寐。

在宪政框架内寻西藏问题的真正解决

西藏问题首先是人权问题,但仅仅是人权问题。人权灾难仅仅是“果”,而不是“因”。不理的专制政治制度才是造成西藏问题的总根源。共产党当不是想为西藏人民、为万“翻身农奴”好事、带来福祉?我相信是这样的。但历史上好心办坏事的比比皆是。晚清时朝廷大力整顿藏务,推行改革,以防止列强力继染指西藏。1907 年张荫向清廷提出“治藏大纲十四款”,19051911 年赵尔丰在川、康两省推行“改土归流”,巩固清廷,本意上也有移风易俗、为藏族姓“好事”的一面,但这些“改革”遭到了藏民的强烈制。半个世后共产党在藏区重了同样的事情,且加系雄心勃勃,其结果,则是对藏区生、藏区宗教文化规模破坏

事实上,20 中国的共产主义革命,已经被历史明是一个错误,是年社会型中一个大的方向性扭曲。它不但给民族带来不幸,也给其他少数民族带来了不幸。如今,人们正在深入反思这段历史。过去发生了的事情当然不可能推重来,但牢历史教训、用更科学的态度面对今天、面对未来是当今一代人的责任

民基本权利的重,对特殊文化传重,必须落实到宪政制度层面,才能真正获得保证。这是解决西藏问题的根本出路。

台湾岛上成功完成的第轮政党轮替,是民主制度越性的一次彰显,同时,也一次反衬出大陆政治体制改革的必要性和紧迫性。明显,大陆的共产党党专制体制容纳不了台两岸的一,也容纳不了西藏的真正自治。有解这个体制,建立符现代文明值和则的宪政民主制度,台湾最终回归祖国和西藏获得度自治、藏人民和谐相处的时代才会到来。

从上个世60 年代始,位于度达兰萨拉的“西藏流政府”已经尝试建立民主的政权建。达赖喇嘛的“斯特拉斯堡建议”也主张“西藏政府应该过全民选举出的独立的行政、立和司体系成”。达赖至力倡改变西藏的政教一传,哪自己成为西藏历史上的“世达赖”。10 藏人已经为实民主制度了必要的备,那北京的中央政府是否应该做同样的

无疑问,对掌权的中共决策人来讲,改变现有制度体系,寻建立的制度框架,需要大勇气、大智慧。这不仅仅是为了西藏,为了台湾,也是为了十亿中人民共和国的国民。说,即便今后在中国建立起宪政民主体制,如何找到民族地区自治和大国治理间的交汇点,也不是一件容易的事情。我过一篇文章“双轨共和制:关于中国宪政国家结改革的一种设想”,其中达了这样的点:“分权”、“自治”有助于提升民的权利意和对共事务的参与,是一个不争的事实(就民族地区而言,自治还有助于维护本民族的文化传和特殊利但问题还有另一个方面,那就是利的膨胀本性及其体现的“集体行为的逻辑”,后者必造成一系列“用地的境”,其解决必须依靠超越地方利的上一级共权力机的介入,特别是中央政府的介入。所有这些都提醒我们不能在传的“一制”或“邦制”的一轨道内考虑问题。如果说国家结构形式的调整、治理的多元化已经成为当今一些中等规模以上国家的现实,那中国――由于它的大的人口规模、极不均衡的地区发展平、杂的民族生态状况和历史遗下来的不同政治实体并的现实――更有理由、也有够的必要去考虑设计一种更复杂的、超越“一制”或“邦制”一逻辑的制度体系,这就是我所谓的“双轨共和制”。这个框架还是个在这个框架内解决西藏的行政区划和体制度安排,还有大量事需要究、实可行的方案。如“大藏区”念可行不可行?可行, 怎么和大国的一治理相协调?不可行,如何说藏族兄弟步?要论。这些都需要大智慧,需要瞻远瞩的思,也需要宽广的胸怀。当然,要到这些,建立起宪政民主体制是前提,没有这个前提,上述一都无从谈起。

下,就中央政府而言,解决西藏问题的机会还是有的。这个机会就是真地和达赖喇嘛进行对。最北京已经表示愿意恢复接触,这就好。即便是姿态性的,也有积极意义。大家都希望会谈产生货真实的结果,趁达赖喇嘛在时,建、藏民族和睦的桥梁。这个问题处理不好,则“分”有可能成为真的、现实的危险。我为中国民的一员,当然不希望西藏真的从祖国大家中分出去,但历史究竟向哪个方向决于人们的良愿望, 而要看各种政治力量间的博。总的说,我们应该相信,人类文明发展的趋联合大于分联合有助于解决人类今天面临的许多现实问题。但联合是共同利基础上的自愿联合。强扭的瓜不。这个简单道理同样用于政治。(本文2008 4 2228 ,北京)

介】张博树,1955年出生于北京,1982年获中国人民大学经学学士学位。1985入中国社会学院究生院哲学系,究方向为现代西方哲学中的欧陆批理论,分别于1988年、1991年获哲学硕士、哲学博士学位。1991年起任职院哲学究所至今。年一直致力于年来中国民主型和制度现代化之成败教训的苦苦索,并逐渐确20中国专制主义批究主题。

Zhang Boshu: The Way to Resolve the Tibet Issue

张博树:西藏问题的根本出路

(Brief introduction of the author) Zhang Boshu 张博树 was born in Beijing in 1955. He received an MA in economics from Zhongguo Renmin Daxue in 1982 and in 1985 passed the entrance examination for the Institute of Philosophy of the graduate school of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. His research has been on critical theory in continental Europe in modern western philosophy. He obtained MA and PhD degrees in philosophy in 1988 and 1991. He has held a post in the Philosophy Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences from 1991 to the present. In recent years he has striven to understand the lessons of success and failure in the history of the past century of China’s democratic transition and institutional modernization. He has gradually settled upon criticism of 20th Century Chinese despotism as his main research topic.

Ever since March 2008, the issue of Tibet and the Olympics have been stirred up together, drawing the attention of the entire world. Short sighted politicians in our own country have been pleased that their petty schemes to stir up nationalist sentiment have been so successful.  This not only manipulates domestic opinion but also uses so-called “mainstream public opinion” to stand oppose the criticisms coming from international society.  On the other hand, this serves to push for the consolidation of the situation in Tibet in the hope of getting through the Olympics peacefully. They did not realize that the Tibet issue has already become a major factor affecting China’s future. Solving the Tibet issue will take courage and great wisdom.  Petty scheming could run Tibet and ruin China.

How did the Tibet issue arise?

The Tibet issue is first of all a human rights issue.

Although the authorities are not willing to admit it, I want to say it plainly. This problem that plagues the leadership of the Communist Party, if we look at its origin, was created by the Chinese Communist Party itself as the ruler of China.

We don’t have to look too far back in history. Whether in fact from the Yuan Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty the relationship between the Tibet government and Beijing was one of relatives or of equals is a matter of dispute among academics.  For now, we don’t need to pay any attention to controversy. What is most important as that from 1912 onwards, Tibet was for a long period in a de facto “state of independence”. That situation continued until 1951 when the Tibet local government signed an agreement with the Beijing central government — the “Seventeen Point Agreement on the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet”. The document was moderate and constructive.  The agreement stressed that Tibet is part of China but also recognized that Tibet’s current system would not change and that the Dalai Lama’s position would not change. We can call that the earliest version of “One Country, Two Systems” in contemporary China.

In 1954, the 19 year-old Dalai and 16-year old Panchen both went to Beijing to take part in the First National People’s Congress, attending as honored guests of Mao Zedong. They were appointed respectively as the Vice Chair of the NPC and the Vice Chair of the National People’s Consultative Congress. Tibet’s future seemed bright. Problems began to appear in 1955. Mao Zedong’s utopian socialist social transformation began to accelerate that year. Ripples spread from the Chinese interior to Changdu and the Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai, and Gansu Provinces. In these areas, which were not bound by the 17 Point Agreement, “democratic reform” broke out on a spectacular scale. Radical local Communist Party leaders sought to carry out “democratic reform” and “socialist transformation” simultaneously so as “to make spectacular progress in just one step”. They struck hard against the masters of the serfs and their “representatives”, confiscating the lands and property of monasteries and forcing collectivization, slandering the religious beliefs of Tibetan people, and forcing upper class people, lamas and monks to “reform their thinking”.

The result was that they stirred up dissatisfaction and resistance among the Tibetan people. During 1956 – 1958, armed conflicts in the Tibetan areas grew larger and larger in scale. When one died out another arose but were soon were put down by campaigns by the PLA to put down rebellion and wipe out rebels. Ten of thousands of Kam and Amdo region Tibetans fled across the Jinsha River into Tibet. This sowed the seeds for the 1959 Lhasa “rebellion”. These historical circumstances led to the “rebellion” and indeed were a necessary condition for that event to occur.

There is no need to go into detail about what happened after that. The victorious “suppression of the rebellion” at Lhasa showed that the central government had achieved absolute control of all the Tibetan areas including Tibet itself. It also marked the rapid move of Tibet towards “socialism”. Chinese of my age grew up hearing songs like “The Red Sun is rising about the snowy mountains” and seeing movies like “Serfs”. In those days we really believed that under the leadership of the Communist Party “the serfs have been liberated” and were living happy lives. Later, after reading a lot of historical materials, I learned that there were many untruths in the propaganda.

The dictatorship system of the Communist Party, the arrogance and ignorance of leaders, and the extreme leftist policies pursued by them in the Tibetan areas brought terrible disasters to both the religious and lay people of Tibet. In 1962, the Panchen Lama, who was ranked as a “national leader” wrote a letter to Premier Zhou Enlai expressing his deep sorrow at what he had seen and heard of the suffering of the Tibetan people. Since the Panchen Lama was certainly not opposed to the leadership of the Communist Party, and was loyally and faithfully reporting to the Party the actual situation in the Tibetan areas, this letter called the “70,000 Character Document” can be seen as a document that accurately reflects the difficult situation of the Tibetan people during those years. I might as well quote from it here:

On “class struggle” in the Tibetan areas: “In most or in many areas, the cadres didn’t care if the campaign was planned or carried out well. They were intent on making a spectacular display that would strike terror in people. They didn’t care if they attacked the right people. The objective was to do the campaign on a big scale and achieve numerical targets.” They attacked many people whom they shouldn’t have attacked. Often “those who were the objects of struggle meetings had not done anything particularly bad or committed serious errors. So they had to make up many false and serious accusations. They exaggerated at will, turning truth and falsehood upside down.” Many innocent people were forced to flee abroad against their will. Those who stayed behind lived in terror.”

On the lives of the people in the Tibetan areas: “Because of the rise in the agricultural areas of the five unhealthy tendencies [Tr. Note: post Great Leap Forward Party critique of GLF excesses — wu feng 五风 – 共产风、浮夸风、瞎指挥风、强迫命令风、特殊化 over-egalitarianism, the common practice of exaggeration, confused orders, too many compulsory orders, and special privileges. End note] and excessively tight controls on grain, and the standards for the amount of grain the people could retain was set too low, a severe grain shortage resulted, …and many households had no grain. In some areas some people even starved to death. “Formerly Tibet was a dark and barbarous feudal society but there had never been a shortage of grain like that, especially since Buddhism permeated the society, everyone rich and poor, had the custom of helping the poor and giving alms. People could easily support themselves as a beggar, so we never of anyone ever having starved to death.”

Implementation of “dictatorship” resulted in the improper deaths of many prisoners: After the “suppression of the rebellion”, the proportion of prisoners in the Tibetan population reached several percent, something completely unprecedented. ” In 1959, Chairman Mao set forth a policy that since the population of Tibet was small, people shouldn’t be killed or at most only a few people should be killed. But in fact, just the opposite happened. Except for the somewhat better treatment of imprisoned members of the upper classes, most people who were locked up in prison endured very bad conditions. The prison wardens didn’t care about the lives or health of the prisoners. They often verbally abused and savagely beat prisoners. Moreover, wardens deliberately moved prisoners back and forth between very warm and cold places so that the prisoners could not adapt and their clothes were always unsuitable. Their clothes could not keep them warm, their mattresses were not waterproof, and the wind and rain entered their cells. They never got enough to eat, living in miserable conditions yet they still had to get up early to do work. The hardest work was always given to these people. Their became worn out physically, often came down with diseases. As a result of no rest and inadequate medical care, many prisoners died who they should not have. (Tr. Note. Chinese text: 非正常之死)

On religion and nationalities issues: “Under the so-called “elimination of superstition”, the first priority was opposing religion. The second priority was destroying images of the Buddha, Buddhist scriptures, and stupas.” When they demanded that monks and nuns return to secular lives, they “first in all the temples and monasteries, under the pretext of “study” and “mobilization”, they brought all the monks and nuns together into a large hall or room, and made them study nervously day and night, forcing them to criticize each other in order to create a big wave of sharp struggles and attacks. People who openly express their belief in religion were given labels such as a superstitious element or someone who doesn’t like the revolution. They were constantly attacked without rhyme or reason. Even worse, in some places they made the lamas stand on one side and nuns and lay religious women stand on the other. They were then forced to chose each other in marriage. In Tibet, there were originally over 2500 temples. After “democratic reform” there were only 70 left. Originally there were 110,000 monks and nuns. Ten thousand fled abroad, leaving 100,000 behind. After “democratic reform” there were only 7000 monks and nuns left. What especially cannot be condoned is that in some areas there was deliberate desecration and insults to religion such as the Buddhist Canon used for compost. Many paintings of the Buddha and scriptures were used to make shoes or other objects. There is absolutely no reason for this. Because there were many insane things done that even a lunatic wouldn’t do, people in all classes of Tibetan society were deeply shaken. Their emotions were in chaos and they became exceedingly sad and shed tears. They said “Our land has been made into a dark place.” quoting a Tibetan proverb that means “a place without religion”.

Alas, when I read these characters, my own heart bleeds and my face burns.

Most of these problems also existed in the Chinese interior as well. But they were more serious in Tibet. They were more extreme and more widespread there. No matter how well-meaning or noble the initial motivation of those in power was to use their social ideals to transform Tibetan society was, what its shocking results are all crimes. These are crimes that resulted from ignorance, arrogance, rage and violence.

Under these circumstances, the over 100,000 Tibetans who fled to India and other foreign countries called upon the entire world to support the human rights of Tibetans. Therefore the Tibet issue became a symbolic issue for the entire world. What can be surprising about that? Moreover, this was going on during the Cold War and so in the minds of western people, Tibet became a focal point in the game of competing national interests in which china, the Soviet Union, India, the United States and other countries were engaged.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency did in fact provide funding, technical and other support to Tibetans in exile. That was part of the effort of the United States to contain the “spread of communism”. Chinese can of course curse the damn Americans for plotting to “split China” without revealing their real intentions. But on the other hand, if the Communist Party had not done so many stupid things in Tibet and forced Tibetans to flee into exile, what would other people have been able to say? What pretext could they have to butt in? I haven’t even mentioned the Cultural Revolution. That “historically unprecedented” “revolution” because it was even redder and even further left, it was even more extreme and more cruel. Of course it created even greater disasters for the Tibetan people. I won’t discuss them here.

Enlightened Communist Party Leaders Once Reflected on the “Leftist” Misfortunes that Brought Disaster to Tibet

Objectively speaking, there has been no shortage of enlightened people within the Chinese Communist Party leadership. At different times and in different positions they have opposed leftist work methods in Tibet. However, under these historical circumstances, they could achieve only limited results.

Xi Zhongxun, from northwestern China, was a Vice Premier and Secretary General of the State Council in the 1960s. He was responsible for contact with the Panchen. He made a very complete report to the State Council about the how the “Seventy Thousand Character Document” came to be written by the Panchen and so was charged with “accommodating and not interfering with the Panchen. The Tenth session of the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party dismissed Xi Zhongxun and, in addition to the major crime of “using a novel to attack the Communist Party” was also charged with “accommodating and not interfering with the Panchen.”

Another dismissed, high level Communist Party official was Li Weihan, who was an old communist who had been head of the United Front Department since 1947. During April and May 1962, at a Nationalities Work Conference held in Beijing, some of the nationalities religious figures offered some sharp criticisms. Li Weihan remained calmly and honestly said that he welcomed criticism from everyone. He praised the talk of the Tibetan Buddhist Lama Xijiashenzhi [romanization of Chinese name], saying that he was “open and above board, with a heart as clear as a mirror” and stands as a symbol of “patriotism in the area of national minorities religious affairs”. Li Weiquan’s action was later severely criticized by Mao Zedong who said that “The United Front Department is neglecting the class struggle and is being capitulationist.” 2

After the end of the Cultural Revolution, many issues in Tibetan affairs were neglected. Nationalities policy and the relationship between the Han nationality and the Tibetan nationality needed to be adjusted and the lives of Tibetans needed to be improved. In May 1980, just after Hu Yaobang had become General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Hu and Wan Li flew to Tibet for an inspection visit. On the plane, Hu said to the accompanying Xinhua News Agency journalists “In our policies in the national minority areas, we must always seek truth from facts, and adjust measures to suit local conditions so as to fully respect the autonomy the Tibetans have to govern their minority area themselves. That is the crux of all the Tibet issues.” On May 29, in the work report that Hu Yaobang presented at the meeting with the cadres of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, he stressed that the development of Tibetan must resolve “six big issues”.

The first is, under the unified leadership of the center, fully implement the autonomy rights in the nationalities areas. “Any document, order or regulation which is not suitable for the conditions of Tibet should not be implemented.” “You should according to your own characteristics, draft specific decrees, laws and regulations, and rules to protect the special interests of your own nationality.” The second is “Under the present difficult conditions of Tibet, you should carry out a policy of recuperation and rebuilding and considerably reduce the burden on the people.” “We have decided that within several years required purchases by Tibetans will be abolished.” Third, Tibet should implement special flexible policies to promote the development of production.” Fourthly “Devote the resources that the state is providing to Tibet to the development of agriculture and herding and the daily necessities most needed by Tibetan people.” Fifth, “With the condition that the socialist road be followed, develop science, technology and education in Tibet.”

Hu Yaobang especially stressed, “Looking down on Tibetan history, language and art is totally wrong… Loving the minority people is not a matter of empty words. Their social customs and habits must be respected. Respect their language, respect their history, respect their culture. If you don’t do that you are only speaking empty words.” Finally, Tibetan cadres should manage Tibet. Within two years, Tibetans should make up two-thirds or more of the cadres in Tibet. “We have been here for thirty years. We have completed our historical mission.” “Today there are 300,000 ethnic Han, including military, in Tibet. How can that ever do?” The above can be summarized in six characters “cut taxes, open up, and withdraw personnel”. These were the “emergency measures” energetically promoted by Hu Yaobang to resolve the Tibet issue. 3

These views, strong criticisms of social evils, were enthusiastically welcomed in the Tibetan areas. Of course because of historical conditions, the enlightened leaders of the Chinese Communist Party were unable to discuss and consider institutional perspectives on the problems that occurred in Tibet. Hu Yaobang in his May 29th speech said that we should not look back on the past but rather “unify ourselves and look to the future”.4 This reflects Hu Yaobang’s experience and resourcefulness and the frustrations of a generation of reformers in the Chinese Communist Party. After all, the many of the tragedies in contemporary Tibetan history are directly linked to the Communist Party system and the social policies that that Party carried out. This is all a result of these policies. If we do not reflect upon the origins of the Tibet issue, then we will not be able to resolve it.

New Symptoms Arose in the Tibet Issue During the Years of Reform

With opening and reform, especially since the early 1990s and the turn of the new century, the Chinese economy has grown very quickly. The central government has also certainly invested a lot of capital in Tibet and devised a series of special preferential policies and measures to accelerate the development of Tibet. There have been direct state investment construction projects, Chinese central government financial subsidies, and support for projects from partners around the country for the modernization and construction of Tibet. The overall economic level of Tibet improved considerably as a result. However the political structure remained the same as before with the Party exercising control over political, economic, cultural, and religious affairs just as before. An autonomous region in name, but in actual fact, autonomy was in the same lamentable state as before. The core of the Tibet issue has not been truly solved, and under the new social conditions a variety of new problems have arisen.

The market economy has become the economy controlled by influential people. It is that way in the Chinese interior, and it is that way in Tibet. The blending of the system of Party dictatorship and the policy of opening up created a new privileged stratum that includes Han and as well as Tibetans who have positions in Party and government institutions and cultural institutions. Faced with swarms of merchants coming from the Chinese interior, many ordinary Tibetans in Lhasa and other areas fell discriminated against and marginalized.

Even worse is the all encompassing control of religious affairs. On the surface, religious life in Tibet has already been restored. The state spent great sums repairing damage and protecting symbolic Buddhist structures, the temples are filled with burning incense. The Buddhist Canon will never again be used for compost. But this is just the surface of things. There is a deeper reality that is hidden behind these things as if beneath a mask.

The independent scholar Wang Lixiong, who has done much research, including many research trips to Tibet. His conclusion: in Tibet there is no true religious freedom. On one hand, the government strictly controls the registration of religious activities in the temples, limits religious personnel to a certain “authorized personnel complement”, and forbids ties between temples. Religious activities outside the temples are forbidden. On the other hand, spontaneous religious activities outside government control are rigorously suppressed so that they will not have any influence.

In the Kang region of [Tr. note: ethnographic] Tibet, not far from the county seat of Sela County, is the mountain valley of Larong with its Wuming Buddhist Institute. [Translator’s note: also known as the Sertar Tibetan Buddhist Institute, Sertar, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, China 四川甘孜州 色达县 喇荣五明佛学院 End note.] When founded in 1980, there were only 30 or so people at the Institute. At the end of the 1990s, there were nearly 10,000 Tibetan and Han monks there. This worried the Chinese government. The authorities ordered that the reduce the number of its personnel from the authorized number of 4000 nuns to just 400 and 4000 monks to just 1000. All the 1000 Han who had come to study Buddhism were forced to leave. This requirement was rejected by the Living Buddha who ran the Institute because to make a monk return to secular life involves a serious violation of vows. The government took action, sending people to destroy the housing of the monks. On July 10, 2001 during the height of the destruction of monastic housing, 1700 monastic cells were destroyed in a single day. “I have heard people describe that scene, the sounds of houses being destroyed, the dust rising up everywhere, on one side one thousand nuns crying, as if the world itself were shaking. In the area around the Wuming Buddhist Academy were many nuns in groups in the countryside hiding out to avoid pursuit by the government. “5

An even more deadly consequence of the strict control of religion have been breaks in the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism. Traditional Tibetan religion has an internal control mechanism. For example, although their is a reincarnation system for the Dalai and the Panchen, but in the Geluga School, eminent monks and heads of monasteries have a set term of office. They are chosen from among the most learned lamas. The winners in the competition can become the head of the Ganden Monastery –that is a natural teacher for the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. This system has continued for several hundred years without a break, thereby ensuring the authenticity in the transmission of the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism from generation to generation and ensuring as well the excellent character of eminent monks. But since 1959 this continuous process has been interrupted. From the 1980s to the present, although on the surface religious activities have been renewed, it has become hard to find a trace of the very core of the religion — the pious beliefs of eminent monks, deep research into Buddhism and teaching aimed at enlightening all sentient beings.

The governing authorities operate a “reverse elimination” selection system among the leaders of the monks. “Any monk leader who insists on religious principles, refuses to be a tool of the authorities, will be subject to pressure and purging or even sentenced to prison as a warning to other clergy. Any monk with a relatively high traditional rank who keeps silent, doesn’t cause trouble is a candidate for recruitment by the United Front Department. He will be given rewards but a club will be always be ready to intimidate them. Any monk willing to be personal advancement first, who is opportunistic, gives up religious principles, and willing to be a tool of the government will be given all sorts of advantages, membership in the National People’s Congress, the National People’s Consultative Congress or even higher government positions. The green light will be given for their activities, resources will be provided so that they will be a model who can draw in other leaders among the monks.” In sum, therefore, although the Chinese Communists boast of religious freedom but their religious policy is aimed at the destruction of Buddhism, no less than it was in the days of Mao Zedong. Mao Zedong wanted to completely extirpate Buddhism. In Tibetan history there were eras when Buddhism was extirpated yet Buddhism still continued because the religion lived in the hearts of believers and so could not be destroyed by an external force. Today the Communist Party religious policy is aims at the degeneration of the monk stratum of Tibetan society. This is a mortal danger to Buddhism.” 6

As a consequence of all this, although Tibet has made considerable economic progress over the past thirty years and the lives of ordinary Tibetans have improved, but Tibetans are still dissatisfied and “events” occur over and over in the Tibetan regions. The Tibetan issue is still “an issue” that is the focus of constant international attention. Ever since that have occurred since March are just new developments in the course of this ongoing transformation.

Demonizing the Dalai Lama is Extremely Stupid

After the “hitting, smashing, stealing and burning” event of March 14, the Chinese government immediately announced that this was instigated by the “Dalai Clique”. When in April there was interference with the transmission of the torch, the authorities again asserted that the “Dalai Clique” had instigated “Tibet independence elements”, with the aim of destroying the Olympic Games, in order to further the cause of “Tibet independence”.

The “human rights issue” was substituted for the “independence issue” to serve the needs of people in authority. This is easy to see. But in their effort to dump this pile of shit on the head of the Dalai Lama, we can see how preposterous the traditional political logic of the Chinese communists is. This also reveals that the rulers lack a long term strategic vision and political wisdom.

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. He is also one of the most famous political figures in the world. The year the Dalai Lama fled Tibet he was 24 years old. In half a century of exile, this ethnic Tibetan sage has blended the essence of Buddhism, magnanimity, liberal democracy and other universal values of contemporary civilization. Already in 1987, the Dalai Lama proposed the “Five Point Peace Proposal” which includes the suggestion that Tibet become a “peace zone”, that “China end its policy of moving settlers into Tibet”, “respect for the human rights and democratic rights of the Tibetan people”, “Restore and protect Tibet’s natural environment”, and “hold sincere talks about the future status of Tibet and the relationship between the Tibetan people and the Chinese people”.

In 1988, the Dalai Lama also made the “Strasbourg Proposal” in 1988, which proposed that “Tibet should become a self-ruled democratic political entity in union with the People’s Republic of China, in which “the Chinese government would be responsible for Tibet’s external affairs, but Tibet could establish offices overseas for the religious and cultural aspects of foreign relations” etc.7

During the last seven years, the Dalai Lama has at many times and in many places stated clearly that he does not seek Tibet independence, only real autonomy for Tibet. On the methods and ways of achieving this he strongly calls for a peaceful “middle way”, which would involve honest dialog with the central government and negotiations to resolve issues. Ever since 2002, the Dalai Lama’s special envoy has met with representatives of the United Front Department in Beijing six times in order to explain to the ruling Communist Party rulers the “middle way position” but have not gotten any response to the proposal.

The rigid stance of the Chinese Communist Party is very easy to understand from their political tradition: the institutional arrangements for Tibet have already been decided. So what is there to talk about? Accepting the so-called “autonomy” of the Dalai would shake the foundations of the party-state, so there can be no yielding on this point. Therefore, “talks” are for the Communist side just a perfunctory exercise and only done for show, and so of course there can be no concrete results from them. Yet these delays cause more and more difficulties for the Dalai since he has to explain things to both the Tibetan exiles and to believers within Tibet.

There are many different organizations and groups among the Tibetans in exile with different political positions. There are radical ones like the “Tibet Youth Congress” which has attracted a lot of attention lately. It’s political position is very different from the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way”. The Tibet Youth Congress was founded in 1970 mostly by second and third generation Tibet exiles. Membership is now several tens of thousands with organizations in 40 countries. At the outset the Tibet Youth Congress stood for non-violence, but is has changed its position over the past several years. At its 2007 annual meeting, the leader of the Congress said that the non-violence propounded by the Dalai Lama is good, but he has been saying this for many years without result. “Very many people don’t believe in it. They say it doesn’t work.” If it doesn’t work , then what? The Tibet Youth Congress is inclined to use violence to solve the problem, including preparing a “popular uprising movement” in the Tibetan areas. It is said that over 700 Tibetans have volunteered that they are willing to give up their lives to protect what they “stand for”.

The Dalai has stated clearly that he opposes any scheme or action involving the use of violence. He said that if such an act should occur, he may have to “resign” to show his true position. Several days ago, the Dalai during an interview with Asia Week [Yazhou Zhoukan] said that he believes that giving up the Middle Way of giving up efforts to achieve Tibet independence and seeking a high degree of autonomy is still the mainstream view of Tibetans in exile as well as the mainstream view of people in the Tibetan areas. As for the Tibet Youth Congress, the Dalai Lama said that he can only admonish the Tibet Youth Congress not to take the radical road. However, he has no way to order the Tibet Youth Congress to shut up. 9

Beijing may not completely trust the statements of the Dalai Lama because overcoming political enmity built up over a long time will take time and face-to-face communication. However, indiscriminately demonizing the other side, charging that the Dalai is the commander in the “Tibet independence camp” and should certainly be punished by the entire nation, and reviled by everyone, can only put the Dalai Lama in a difficult situation (while he is trying to put pressure on radical forces among Tibetans) and put the Chinese communists into a political dead end (frozen into the rigid face of the dictator ), giving up the freedom of maneuver needed in political negotiations. Isn’t this an extremely stupid way to behave?!

Yet, in the final analysis, this is the obstinate and stubborn traditional political logic that haunts the Communist Party. According to this logic, there can be no equal negotiating partners. There can only be enemies locked in a life and death struggle. Even worse is how the rulers are haunted by their own logic of interests — for according to this logic, Tibet “autonomy” is intolerable. It would be a fundamental threat to the party-state, and a threat to a large group that benefits from this system. Considered in terms of these two logics, the demonization of the Dalai Lama becomes easy to understand. But where is justice? What are the prospects for the great family of the peoples of China? Considering the puerile and shallow “patriotism” and “nationalism” shown in the recent turbulent tide of meticulously planned and instigated demonstrations in both China and abroad by the new “Boxers”, as well as the very deep problems facing the country, one is left with a bitter and confused taste in one’s mouth and troubled deep into sleepless nights.

The Solution to the Tibet issue Should be Sought Within a Constitutional Framework

The Tibet issue is first of all a human rights issue. But it is not only a human rights issue. Abuses of human rights are an “effect”, not a “cause”. An irrational system of political dictatorship is what caused the “Tibet issue.”

Didn’t the Communist Party initially seek to help the Tibetan people and the million “liberated serfs”? I believe that this is true. Yet the history of the world is full of examples of evil deeds done with good intentions. During the late Qing, the court made great reforms in Tibetan affairs and promoted reforms in order to prevent the great powers from continuing to encroach upon Tibet. In 1907, Zhang Yintang gave to the Qing Court “Twenty-four proposals for the governance of Tibet”. During 1905 – 1911, in the the provinces of Sichuan and Kang, a reform to “change from indirect control through local chiefs to direct control by the central government”. The purpose in addition to consolidating Qing rule was to transform social traditions for the “good of” ordinary Tibetans. However, these “reforms” were strongly resisted by Tibetan people. Half a century later the Communist Party did the same thing in the Tibetan areas, albeit more systematically and with more determination. The result was larger scale harm to the people, religion and culture of the Tibetan areas.

In fact, history has already shown that China’s 20th century communist revolution was a mistake. It was a big wrong turn during a century of social transformation. It not only brought misfortune to the Han nationality, it also brought misfortune to the minority peoples. Today, people are thinking deeply about that history. Things that are past cannot be called back. But we should remember the lessons of history, and look at the issues of today and tomorrow with a scientific attitude. This is the responsibility of the present generation.

Respect for the fundamental rights of citizens, and respect for the distinctive cultures and traditions must be implemented in a constitutional political system. This is the basic path for solving the Tibet issue.

Recently Taiwan successfully changed the ruling party for the second time. This shows the superiority of the democratic system of government. It also demonstrates the necessity and urgency of changing the political system on the Chinese mainland. Clearly, the party dictatorship system of the Chinese Communist Party cannot accommodate unification between Taiwan and the mainland, just as it cannot accommodate true autonomy for Tibet. Only by dissolving the present system and creating a constitutional democratic system in accordance with the universal values and principles of modern civilization can the day come when Taiwan finally returns to the motherland, Tibet achieves true autonomy, and Han and Tibetans get along with each other in harmony.

From the beginning of the 1960s, the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamasala, India started to experiment at building a system of democratic government. In his Strasbourg Proposal, the Dalai Lama said that “The Tibetan government should be composed of an independent administration and legislature chosen by the vote of all citizens and a court system.” The Dalai Lama even proposed changing the Tibetan form of government that combines politics and religion. He didn’t worry if he might become the “last Dalai” in Tibetan history.10 Tibetans have already made preparations for a democratic political system. Shouldn’t the central government in Beijing make similar preparations?

Certainly for the Chinese Communist decision-makers who know hold power, changing the present system and creating a new institutional framework would take a great deal of courage and wisdom. This would not be just for Tibet or for Taiwan; it would be for all the 1.3 billion citizens of the People’s Republic of China. To be honest, even after China has established a constitutional form of government, finding the reasonable sharing of jurisdiction between the central government and the nationalities areas will not be easy.

I once wrote an article entitled “Two Track Republican System: A Proposal for the Reform of the Chinese System of Constitutional Government”. In this article I pointed out that it is an uncontested fact that the “division of powers” and “autonomy” strengthen the rights consciousness of citizens and increases their participation in public affairs (in the nationalities areas, autonomy also helps preserve the cultural traditions of nationalities and protects their special interests). Yet these is another aspect to this problem, that is the tendency of interests to expand and the “logic of collective interests”. The latter will certainly create some “problems of the commons” which will have to be solved by the intervention of a public power at a higher level that is above local interests, especially intervention by the central government.

Returning to the present, there is still a chance for the central government to solve the Tibet issue. That can be done by conducting genuine negotiations with the Dalai Lama. Recently Beijing has already said that it is willing to resume contact. That is good. Even if it is just a pose, it is positive. Everyone hopes that the takes can produce genuine results so as to create a harmonious bridge between the Han and Tibetan peoples while the Dalai Lama is still alive. If this issue is not handled well, then “splitting” might become a real and present danger.

As a Chinese citizen, I naturally don’t want to see Tibet split off from the household of our motherland. We should believe that the trend of human civilization is towards unifying rather than towards splitting. Unity is helpful for solving many of the problems that humanity is faced with. As a Chinese proverb goes, the melon that is grabbed roughly cannot be sweet — unity needs to be a voluntary unity based upon a community of interests. Forced compliance cannot produce good results. This simple truth can also be applied to politics.

(This article was written April 22 – 28, 2008 in Beijing)

[Trans. Note – numbering for end notes is in the original text copied below but there are no endnotes.] 

This entry was posted in Law 法律, Society 社会 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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