Zhang Boshu: The Way to Resolve the Tibet Issue
(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.]
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。1956～58 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。
――关于宗教民族问题：“在所谓‘破除迷信’之下，反对宗教此其一；消灭佛像、佛经和佛塔此其二；千方百计地使僧尼还俗此其三。”在要求僧尼还俗时，“首先在各寺庙以所谓‘学习’和‘发动’的名义，将僧尼集中在大经堂或大房子内，不分昼夜地紧张地学习和强迫动员其互相进行批评，掀起尖锐的斗争浪潮；对公开表示了信仰宗教的人，戴以迷信分子和不喜欢革命等各种帽子，进行无法忍受的没头没脑的斗争和打击”。更有甚者，某些地方“竟有让喇嘛站一边，尼姑和俗女站一边，强迫他（她）们互相挑选成婚”的现象发生。在西藏，原有各类寺庙2500 余座，“民主改革”后仅剩70 余座；原有僧尼总数约11 万人，外逃1 万，也还有10 万，“民主改革”后仅剩7000 人。特别不能容忍的是一些地方“公然无忌地污辱宗教，把《大藏经》用于沤肥的原料，专门把许多画的佛像和经书用于制鞋原料等，毫无任何道理；由于做了许多疯子也难做出的行为，因而使各阶层人民诧异透顶，心绪混乱至极，极度灰心丧气，眼中流泪，口称：我们的地方搞成了黑地方（西藏俗语，指没有宗教的地方）”！1
在这种情况下，10 数万流亡到印度和海外其他地方的藏人呼吁全世界关注西藏人权、西藏问题成为全球瞩目的标志性问题之一，又有什么可奇怪的呢？更何况，当时还是冷战时期，西藏自然成为东西方意识形态角力和中、苏、印、美等不同国家基于民族国家利益博弈的一个交汇点。美国中央情报局确曾向西藏流亡人员提供资金、技术等方面的支持，这种支持乃是美国遏制“ 共产主义势力扩张”努力的一个组成部分。中国人当然可以大骂美国佬妄图“分裂中国”，居心叵测，但话说回来，如果共产党自己不在西藏干了那么多蠢事，搞得那么多藏人四处流亡， 别人又怎么可能说三道四，或者愣往里边插一杠子呢？
西北出身、60 年代曾任国务院副总理兼秘书长的习仲勋，一直负责同班禅联系，对班禅写《七万言书》、向中央反映情况的过程十分清楚，也因此背上“迁就、放任班禅”的罪名。中共八届十中全会后习仲勋被免职，除了“利用小说进行反党”这个主要罪名外，“迁就、放任班禅”也是一条罪状。另一名被免职的中共高级官员是老资格的共产党人、从1947 年起就出任中共中央统战部长的李维汉。1962 年4 月到5 月，北京召开民族工作会议，会上一些民族宗教界人士发表了尖锐的意见，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“太失人心”的藏传佛教大师喜绕嘉措甚至给予很高的评价，称赞他“光明磊落，心如明镜”，是“民族宗教界一面爱国的旗帜”。但李维汉的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、汉藏关系需要调整，藏民的生活需要改善。1980 年5 月，刚刚在中共中央总书记职务上走马上任不久的胡耀邦和万里一起飞赴西藏考察，在飞机上胡耀邦就对随行的新华社记者讲“我们在民族地区的政策，一定要实事求是，因地制宜，要充分尊重西藏人民实行民族区域自治的自主权，这是一切问题的关键所在”。5 月29 日，胡耀邦在西藏自治区干部大会上作报告，强调西藏发展必须解决的“六件大事”：第一是“要在中央的统一领导之下，充分行使民族区域自治的自治权利”，“中央和中央各部门发的文件、指示、规定，凡是不适合西藏情况的，你们不要执行。”“你们根据你们自己的特点，制定具体的法令、法规、条例，保护你们自己民族的特殊利益。”第二是“根据当前西藏相当困难的情况，要坚决实行休养生息的政策，要大大减轻群众的负担。”“我们确定在几年之内，免去西藏人民的征购任务。”第三，“西藏要实行特殊的灵活政策，便于促进生产的发展。”第四“要把国家支援你们的大量经费，用到促进发展农牧业和藏族人民日常迫切需要的用品上来。”第五，“要在坚持社会主义方向的前提下，发展藏族的科学文化教育事业”。胡耀邦特别强调，“轻视西藏的历史、语文、艺术是完全错误的。……热爱少数民族不是讲空话，要尊重他们的风俗习惯，尊重他们的语言，尊重他们的历史，尊重他们的文化，没有这个就叫空口说白话。”最后一条，要让藏族干部自己管理西藏，争取两年内，藏族干部占到脱产干部总数的三分之二以上。“我们跑到这个地方，三十年啦，完成了历史任务嘛！”现在西藏“连部队三十万汉族同志，这怎么行呢！”以上这些，可以简单概括为六个字，那就是“免税、放开、走人”，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，切中时弊，当时即受到藏区上下的热烈欢迎。当然，由于历史条件所限，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 月29 日的大会上就强调不要算历史细账，应该“团结起来向前看”。4 这反映了胡耀邦作为政治家的老练、机敏，也折射出中共一代改革者的苦衷乃至无奈。毕竟，当代西藏历史中的众多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。
市场经济变成权贵经济，内地如此，藏区同样如此。党专制体制和开放政策的结合造就了新的特权阶层，包括汉人，也包括那些在党政机构和文化机构任职的藏人。面对经商大潮中内地汉人的蜂拥而入，拉萨等地的普通藏民大有被歧视乃至被边缘化的感觉。更可怕的是无孔不入的宗教控制。从外表看，西藏的宗教生活已经恢复，国家花巨资重修、维护那些标志性的佛教建筑，寺庙里香火旺盛，再也不会发生把《大藏经》拿去沤肥的事情。但这只是事情的一个方面，甚至只是事情的表面，问题还有更真实、更深刻的一面却被这种外在的、具有面具特征的东西隐瞒了、遮蔽了。对西藏问题颇有研究的独立学者王力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，政府对登记在册的寺庙宗教活动严加管理，限定寺庙僧人“编制”，禁止寺庙之间“串联”，规定寺庙之外不许宣传宗教；另一方面，对自发的、政府控制之外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谷有一座五明佛学院，1980 年创办时只有30 多人，到了90 年代末，已有藏汉僧众近万人，招致政府的恐慌。当局严令佛学院减小规模，规定原有的4000 多名藏族女僧众只能保留400 人，4000 多男僧众只准保留1000 人，1000 多来学佛的汉人则必须全部离开。这个要求遭到院方主持活佛的拒绝，因为对出家人来说，劝僧人还俗属于最严重的破戒行为。政府于是自己动手，派人强拆僧众居住的房屋，2001 年7 月10 日达到拆房高峰，一天之内拆掉房屋1700 多座。“我听在场的人描述当时场面，一边是摧毁房屋的声音此起彼伏，尘烟四起，一边是上千尼姑抱头痛哭，震天动地。那一段五明佛学院周围山上到处都是成群结队的流浪女尼，风餐露宿，躲避政府的追捕。”5
严格控制宗教的一个更致命的结果是造成藏传佛教传承的可怕断裂。传统西藏宗教本来有一套内部制约系统，比如达赖、班禅虽有“转世”制度，但格鲁派的高僧和寺庙主持却实行任期制， 由具有真才实学的喇嘛竞争，获胜者才能成为葛丹寺主持，且是达赖、班禅的当然老师。这个制度几百年延续不坠，保证了藏传佛教纯正教义的代际相传和“高僧大德”的不衰。但1959 年后这个延续过程被中断。80 年代至今，虽然表面上宗教活动得以恢复，宗教的核心――通过高僧虔诚的信仰、深入的佛学钻研和教化活动启迪众生――却已经难觅踪影。执政当局对现存僧团领袖实施“逆淘汰”选拔机制，“凡是坚持宗教原则、拒绝充当当局工具的僧团领袖都会遭到打压整肃，甚至判刑，借以警示其他僧侣；对那些保持沉默、不惹麻烦，传统地位比较高的僧团领袖，则当作‘统战对象’，既给一定甜头，也把大棒始终举在他们头顶；而对个人利益至上，善于投机，放弃宗教原则，甘当政府工具的僧团领袖，则给各种好处，安排人大、政协甚至政府官职，对其活动大开绿灯，提供资源，使其成为吸引其他僧团领袖的样板”。总之，“今日中共虽然标榜宗教自由，但是其宗教政策对佛教的破坏，并不比毛泽东时代更少。毛泽东是要彻底灭佛。历史上西藏也有过灭佛年代，但佛教仍然得以延续，因为宗教是在信徒的心中，不能被外在暴力消灭。而今日中共的宗教政策造成僧侣阶层整体堕落，却是佛教最致命的危险。”6
正是由于上述一切，尽管西藏过去30 年来经济上有了长足的进步，普通藏人的生活也有了改善， 有了提高，但藏人还是不满意，藏区还是“事情”不断，西藏问题仍然是一个“问题”，且不断被国际社会所关注。今年3 月份以来发生的“事情”，不过是这个没有中断过的演变过程的最新发展而已。
达赖喇嘛是藏传佛教的精神领袖，也是当今世界备受关注的政治人物。当年达赖仓皇出逃时才24 岁，半个世纪的流亡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普世价值融汇在一起。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”、“中国放弃向西藏地区移植人口政策”、“尊重西藏人民的根本人权和民主权利”、“恢复和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举行诚挚的谈判”。1988 年达赖喇嘛又提出“斯特拉斯堡建议”，主张“西藏应当成为一个由它自己支配的民主的政治实体，同中华人民共和国保持‘联盟’关系”、“由中国政府负责西藏外交事务，但是西藏政府在国外可以设立宗教、文化等方面的外交办事处”等等。7 近年来，达赖喇嘛更是在多种场合明确表示不寻求西藏独立，只要求藏区的真正自治；在方法和实现途径上，力主和平非暴力的“中间道路”，通过与中央政府的真诚对话、谈判解决问题。2002 年以来，达赖的特使已经同北京统战部的官员举行过六次会谈， 向中共执政当局详细解释达赖喇嘛“中间道路”的立场，但没有获得北京方面的任何回应。
海外流亡藏人有各种各样的组织、团体，政治立场也不尽相同。其中激进者如近来引起人们关注的“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。这个组织成立于1970 年，主要由流亡藏人的第二代或第三代构成，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，但这些年态度发生转变。2007 年这个组织召开年会时，它的领导人就表示：达赖喇嘛倡导非暴力没有错，但这么长时间没有结果，“ 很多人不相信了，这条路走不通”。走不通怎么办？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”。据说已有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任何诉诸暴力的企图和行动，如果真有这样的事情发生，他只能以“辞职”以示心迹。就在几天前，达赖接受《亚洲周刊》记者采访时还谈到，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亡藏人中的主流民意，也是藏区人民的主流民意。对于藏青会要求西藏独立，达赖喇嘛表明，他只能劝告藏青会不要走激进道路，但他无法下命令让藏青会闭嘴。9
西藏问题首先是人权问题，但又不仅仅是人权问题。人权灾难仅仅是“果”，而不是“因”。不合理的专制政治制度才是造成西藏问题的总根源。共产党当初不是想为西藏人民、为百万“翻身农奴”办好事、带来福祉么？我相信是这样的。但历史上好心办坏事的例子比比皆是。晚清时朝廷曾大力整顿藏务，推行改革，以防止列强势力继续染指西藏。1907 年张荫堂向清廷提出“治藏大纲二十四款”，1905～1911 年赵尔丰在川、康两省推行“改土归流”，除巩固清廷统治外，本意上也有移风易俗、为藏族百姓“办好事”的一面，但这些“改革”却遭到了藏民的强烈抵制。半个世纪后共产党在藏区重复了同样的事情，且更加系统、更加雄心勃勃，其结果，则是对藏区生灵、藏区宗教文化更大规模的破坏。
从上个世纪60 年代始，位于印度达兰萨拉的“西藏流亡政府”已经尝试建立民主的政权建构。达赖喇嘛的“斯特拉斯堡建议”也主张“西藏政府应该由通过全民投票选举出的独立的行政、立法和司法体系组成”。达赖甚至力倡改变西藏的政教合一传统，哪怕自己成为西藏历史上的“末世达赖”。10 藏人已经为实施民主制度做了必要的准备，那么北京的中央政府是否应该做同样的准备呢？
回到眼下，就中央政府而言，解决西藏问题的机会还是有的。这个机会就是真诚地和达赖喇嘛进行对话。最近北京已经表示愿意恢复接触，这就很好。即便是姿态性的，也有积极意义。大家都希望会谈产生货真价实的结果，趁达赖喇嘛健在时，建构起汉、藏民族和睦的桥梁。这个问题处理不好，则“分裂”有可能成为真的、现实的危险。我作为中国公民的一员，当然不希望西藏真的从祖国大家庭中分裂出去，但历史究竟向哪个方向走，却不取决于人们的善良愿望， 而要看各种政治力量间的博弈。总的说，我们应该相信，人类文明发展的趋势是联合大于分裂， 联合有助于解决人类今天面临的许多现实问题。但联合必须是共同利益基础上的自愿联合。强扭的瓜不甜。这个简单道理同样适用于政治。（本文作于2008 年4 月22～28 日，北京）