A True "Middle-Way" Solution to Tibetan Unrest

A True "Middle-Way" Solution to Tibetan Unrest

                               Wang Lixiong


As a teenager, I was sent to the countryside of northeastern China to be “reeducated.” One day I drove the carriage to the commune to get food aid. In the Food Control Office, I found a bound collection of the newspaper News Digest (cankaoxiaoxi) and immediately grabbed a copy to read. In those days this was the only newspaper that had news from overseas. Though its news was still ideological, it was at least different from the standard party newspapers of the day. Among the news was an interview with the Dalai Lama by a foreign reporter. I have forgotten the specific content of the article, but an image remains in my head a young and lanky Dalai Lama in his lonely exile, heatedly criticizing China to his visitor. I had heard of him before, but in the communist party literature, the word "Dalai" was just a synonym for the dark days of Tibet. The reason I remember this article was not due to any grandiose concept like the Tibet issue, but a rather trivial detail. As I was reading the article, an employee at the Food Control Office snatched the newspaper out of my hands claiming, self-importantly, that it was an "inside publication," permitted only for those "ranked highly enough." Neither he nor I could have guessed that one day that callow boy with rope belted around the waist and a whip gripped in hand, who was not "ranked highly enough," would meet face to face with the Dalai Lama himself.


       In the time that has passed since that day, Tibet has become interwoven with my destiny. When I first came to Tibet in the 1980s I was instantly drawn to the region, and have since visited over 20 times and stayed there nearly three years. It was there that I met my wife, Woeser, who is a Tibetan. Married into the Tibetan issue, I found I could not remove myself from the debate over the region’s future. I have devoted much of my subsequent life to researching and studying the topic, meeting with the Dalai Lama several times to discuss the problems and potential solutions to the Tibet question.


       In light of my long study and many experiences, I was not surprised by the March riots. The current discontent bubbling to the surface in Tibet is the product of long-standing mismanagement based upon poorly formed policies in Beijing. At the same time, however, I am not convinced that the Dalai lama's alternative of a path to "high autonomy" has been clearly thought out, and contains serious flaws. Tibet needs a new way forward which will ensure both the autonomy of the Tibetan people and the territorial sovereignty of China.


A Little Carrot, a Lot of Stick

Beijing’s approach to Tibet can be generalized as a “carrot plus a big stick” policy. In the 1980s, Beijing implemented the “carrot” portion of the policy with huge increases in financial support to promote rapid economic growth in Tibet, hoping a combination of individual prosperity and secularization would lead Tibetans to solidarity with the rest of China. This policy was clarified by former secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region who had been in charge of Tibet for nearly a decade: “The CCP Central Committee and the State Council have mobilized the country’s entire population to assist Tibet, helping Tibet speed up its development and the Tibetan nationality rid itself of poverty and become rich. This is the most realistic and concrete nationality policy of the CCP.”[1] The past three decades have been a period in which Beijing has offered to the Tibetans the most substantial economic benefits in the history of the People’s Republic of China.[2] Between 1994 and 2001, the central government financed 62 infrastructure projects, involving 4.86 billion RMB in direct investment. An additional 716 projects were financed and constructed with aid from 15 provinces, central ministries and commissions, involving a total investment of 3.16 billion RMB.[3] At the Fourth Forum on Work in Tibet, held by the central authorities in 2001, it was decided to further strengthen the support for Tibet's development by investing 31.2 billion RMB in 117 projects during the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-2005) with funds from the central government, coupled with a 37.9 billion RMB financial subsidy. According to statistics, in close to 40 years since the Tibet Autonomous Region was founded, of Tibet's 87.586 billion RMB of financial expenditure, 94.9 percent came from central government subsidies.  

In today’s Tibet, almost every major project relies on Beijing’s support. Without supplies and support from Beijing, progress, at least in Tibet’s cities, would grind to a halt. Beijing’s favorable treatment of Tibet has often made other regions envious. Tibetan businesses enjoy a preferential tax rate three percentage points lower than any other part of China, and farmers and herdsmen are exempt from taxes and administrative charges. In banking, Tibet long enjoyed a preferential interest rate on loans two percentage points lower than in any other place in China, as well as a low rate on insurance premiums.[4] During the past two decades, favorable treatment enabled Tibet to achieve a yearly growth rate higher than 10 percent. The increase of incomes of urban residents, farmers and herdsmen were above the national average.[5] It can be asserted that in terms of economic development and standard of living, today’s Tibet has surpassed any previous period in history. 


Benefiting Whom?

Although most Tibetans admit that their standard of living has improved,[6] the current economic “carrot” has not been the peace offering that Beijing intended. In the process of economic growth and secularization, Tibetans living in cities have gradually been culturally and economically marginalized. While the government does not organize large-scale immigration, it nevertheless encourages it. This has resulted in a Chinesization of Tibet; the root cause of the conflict today.

In the past, immigrants to the Tibetan regions were relatively few. But now, the economies in cities like Lhasa are dominated by Han and Hui people from inland regions in China. Competing in the same market economy, Han Chinese have language, contact, capital and skill advantages and have naturally come to dominate the Tibetan business scene. For example, small stores on Barkhor Street, the most economically vibrant street in Lhasa, were once all owned by Tibetans. In the past few years, however, Han and Hui businesses have permeated the avenue, and today non-Tibetans run over 80 percent of the shops.[7] Traditional trades such as making Tibetan clothing, furniture, food and even simple jobs such as driving pedicabs, are now primarily done by Han Chinese. Even Tibetan religious articles, hada and ghee in monasteries are now made by non-Tibetans. Though their living standards have improved, many Tibetans feel that most benefits brought from the new economy have been snatched up by outsiders. When the opportunities arise, Tibetans will vent their frustrations, which may escalate into ethnic conflict. For instance, in the March 14 riots in Lhasa, many of those who smashed and looted on the street were unemployed youth.


Beyond materialism 

Contrary to Beijing’s expectation, the economic development and improvements in living standards have not won over people’s hearts in Tibet. Rather, Tibetans have increasingly leaned toward the Dalai lama who has not given them a penny. In recent years, Tibet has appeared calm while turmoil like that of the 1980s has rarely been seen in the streets. But below the surface, a quiet spirit of rebellion has simmered. The reciting of the Dalai Lama’s honorific titles could be heard constantly in the crowds along the pilgrimage circuits or among the worshipers in the temples. The daily prayer of most Tibetans was for the Dalai Lama’s well-being and longevity. The Dalai Lama is not just an individual; he represents the Dalai genealogy and system that has sustained Tibet for more than five centuries. In the Tibetans’ perception of reincarnation, hostility toward one Dalai lama is not simply seen as hostility towards him, but is tantamount to hostility toward the entire Dalai genealogy, the entire Tibetan religious system, and the whole Tibetan nation. Under the weight of these spiritual forces, what difference can money make?

For a period in the 1980s, Beijing contemplated winning over the Dalai Lama himself. A special agency was set up to “win over the Dalai clique and overseas Tibetan compatriots and return them to the motherland.”[8] The “win over and return” project, however, made no meaningful progress because the gap between the two sides was too wide to bridge. What Beijing promised the Dalai Lama was merely to restore his nominal titles as vice chairman of the National People’s Congress and vice chairman of the National Political Consultative Conference. He would have been confined to Beijing and could not have held any post in Tibet concurrently.[9] What the Dalai Lama demanded was nothing less than a “high-degree of autonomy” in the greater Tibetan region. Pursuing objectives far apart, the two sides lacked a common ground for dialogue and no progress was made.

From 1987 to 1989 scores of riots erupted in Lhasa. Beijing began to realize that it had trapped itself in a vicious cycle: the Tibetans belong to a religious nation; the religion demands its believers’ unconditional obedience to the religious leader; and the exiled Dalai Lama is both the religious and political leader of Tibet. In Beijing’s logic, Tibet’s religious freedom would inevitably lead the Tibetans to worship the Dalai Lama and the Dalai would use his spiritual influence to incite opposition against Beijing. Understanding that it was impossible to return to the old policy of completely banning religion in Tibet, the Dalai Lama became the key target to breaking the cycle. In 1994, Beijing held the “Third Symposium on Tibet Work,” marking the beginning of a hardline approach to its management of Tibet.[10] With the economic “carrot” ineffective, Beijing applied the “stick.” Thereafter the Dalai Lama was viewed as the “snake head” that had to be hit by the “stick” to control the “snake.”

Beijing’s logic in targeting the Dalai Lama was fundamentally flawed. Since the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan religion are inseparable, any anti-Dalai movement cannot be limited to political matters, and inevitably becomes an issue for the whole Tibetan religion. For instance, how can the Dalai Lama be “exposed and repudiated” while all the temples and most of the Tibetan families enshrine and worship his image? Yet from 1996, orders were issued to confiscate and destroy all images of the Dalai Lama, and monks were forced to publicly denounce him. New regulations were decreed to limit monasteries’ activities. For instance, temples could not be built without government permission, the size of monasterial staff was limited, contact between monasteries was prohibited, and religion could not be propagated outside the monasteries. The Chinese government’s campaign did not stop at the monasteries. Every CCP member, cadre and state employee in Tibet was explicitly required not to practice religion. This meant that they had to regard the Dalai Lama as the enemy, and refrain from displaying the Dalai Lama’s images or arranging shrines in their homes, inviting monks to recite scriptures and provide services, displaying any religious symbols, and sending their children to schools established by the Tibetan government in exile. Violators were threatened with being ousted from the party and dismissed from their state jobs; if the violator was a retiree, his or her pensions would be suspended, and, if a student, his or her opportunity to continue in school would be terminated.

It would be against the essence of religion to demand that religious followers love a temporal party or government more than their faith. Therefore, Beijing has undertaken an impossible task in trying to break the Tibetan political-religious cycle by bringing down the Dalai Lama, and their effort has only worked to intensify the Tibetans’ hatred. During the “monastery rectification,” many monks and nuns chose to be forced out of their monasteries rather than obey an order to slander the Dalai in public. Any monks remaining in monasteries were forced to write reports on their thoughts and curse the Dalai Lama. According to their beliefs, cursing their teacher will bring them to hell. This only intensified the mood of dissatisfaction among the monks and priests. Yet Beijing failed to recognize the huge influence monks and priests have on ordinary Tibetans.


Economic benefits plus the “carrot” and “big stick” policy of high political pressure has maintained peace on the surface in Tibet for the past 13 years. But, the recent Lhasa riots once again proved that this policy cannot solve the Tibet question, and under China’s political system, the authorities have no other way to govern Tibet.  Chinese policies thus far have failed to recognize that the power and influence of the Dalai Lama supercedes the power derived from the economic advantages the Chinese government has given to Tibetans.



The Middle Way


  The Dalai Lama has advocated a “middle path based on mutual benefit” which would grant Tibetans a high level of autonomy, but with a promise that the region would remain part of China.[11] In the Dalai Lama's “middle way,” Tibetan autonomy would be created under a "democratic system" based on Western representative democracy. The framework of the proposed government consists of a bicameral legislature: the House of the People (the highest lawmaking body), which is directly elected by the public; and the House of Regions, which is elected by regional assemblies, with an undetermined number of seats nominated by the executive branch.[12] The essence of the Dalai Lama’s model is that the voting public has great direct influence over politicians, just as the Western style of democracy which it is modeled after.

The Dalai Lama has claimed that the middle way is a nonpartisan and moderate position that safeguards the security and territorial integrity of the motherland for the Chinese.[13] But the middle way has fallen on deaf ears precisely because Beijing does not trust the Dalai Lama’s intentions in Tibet. Even if the Dalai Lama does not seek full independence for Tibet, does his representative model of democracy create an inevitable path to independence? If this system cannot ensure that Tibet "remains inside China" the whole “middle way” loses the most basic precondition for feasibility.


A stepping stone to independence

If Tibet implements the Dalai Lama’s method of democracy, the result of elections will surely be the ascendance of leaders who champion Tibetan independence. This situation is created by the close link between the public and the autonomous government’s decision-makers. Members of the House of the People are directly elected by the voters and members of the House of Regions are elected by a council of regional leaders, who are elected by the people. This means that members of the legislature are highly vulnerable to the impulsive mood of voters. Those in the exile government who drafted this plan seem to believe that the legislature is a sufficient buffer of public irrationality which could withstand public pressure to pursue an unwise course of action. Indeed, similar representative political systems in the West adequately serve this function. But the key difference is that in developed Western democracies, there is no common goal or object for hatred pushing the society to an excessive course of action. However, in a suddenly democratized Tibet, all of these factors exist in the extreme. Members of parliament would be defenseless against the force of the public, and left with no other choice than to follow the masses.

In a democratic election, each member of parliament faces a number of competitors looking to unseat him or her. The most expedient tactic for a challenger is to attack the incumbent. This strategy often works. The masses love heroes and are fond of seeing heroic deeds and lofty words. In the face of such competitions, members of parliament cannot avoid being spurred on to join a race to the extremes. On that racing course, whoever runs in front will be cheered on by the masses and will win the electoral prize. Thus, not only will members of parliament be unable to buffer public mood, they will often race down the road of radicalism for the purpose of consolidating their own position. In the Dalai Lama’s political system, the involvement of “representatives” in “government” reaches an unprecedented level. In this system, the chain of intensified conflict between Tibet and China is therefore bound to extend upwards.


Autonomy, then what?

The middle way approach does not address a number of practical issues in Tibet. Revolution is a grand holiday for the people: during the revolution, people might exultantly celebrate, but problems usually occur the day after the revolution succeeds. Once Tibet truly becomes self-governing, there will no longer be anyone else who takes care of these matters and bears the responsibilities. Currently, Tibet enjoys a relatively high level of modernization, but this is only maintained by subsidies from Beijing. In 1999, local fiscal revenues in the Tibet Autonomous Region stood at 457.31 million RMB, while the fiscal spending topped 5.3 billion RMB[14], and the deficit over 10 times the revenues was subsidized by Beijing. Should Tibet become independent and China cut off its subsidies, Tibet would be unable to maintain its modernization. Even with aid from the West, it would be impossible to compensate for this loss. Some may say that Tibet can still live without modernization. Although modernity and progress may not have convinced many Tibetans to support Beijing, how many of them are willing to see their standard of living significantly regress?

If Tibet achieves the “high autonomy” designed by the Dalai Lama, how can the interests of the “emancipated slaves,” “communist Tibetans” as well as Han Chinese and other ethnic minorities in the Tibetan regions be ensured? Currently in Tibet, there are still a large number of people called “liberated slaves.” Before 1959, they were at the bottom stratum of feudal serfdom. It was precisely the Communist Party that has helped them to get land and raise their economic and political positions. Will it require them to return their land to the former owners? Although the Dalai Lama has always emphasized that Tibet would not return to the old system, as long as he does not clarify what the new system is going to be, the status of "liberated serfs" in an autonomous Tibet remains questionable.

There is also the legacy that the Communist Party has left in Tibet to consider. Decades of Chinese rule have produced a large number of Tibetans who share common interests with the Communist Party. These people include officials in the Party, employees of state-owned businesses, retirees and other beneficiaries. If Tibet becomes self-governing and the Communist Party leaves the Tibetan society, how will the lives of these people change? Could their lifestyles be guaranteed? How would a self-governing Tibet deal with the state-owned organizations left from the communist era? In what way can it assimilate more than 100,000 officials and employees who are mostly concentrated in the cities? 

Once self-governance is achieved, the Dalai Lama suggests that people of the Han, Hui and other minorities who were not born inside Tibet should leave the region. Non-Tibetans who were born in Tibet would be allowed to remain in Tibet permanently. But if only those who were born inside Tibet have the right to permanently remain in Tibet, the number of such people will be miniscule. Even for those Han people who have lived in Tibet for many decades and whose residence is registered in Tibet, when they give birth, they usually go back to Han residence areas because they believe that the altitude of Tibet is not well-suited for Han mothers and babies. Thus, their children are mostly not born in Tibet, either. Would it be reasonable to demand that all of the people who were born outside of Tibet to leave? Would it be practical? The right for permanent residence is not even the biggest problem. More important is whether the future Tibet would permit Han people to come in freely. Will Tibet turn into another Hong Kong, which can only be entered with a special pass? The policy has been easy to implement in tiny Hong Kong, since the Chinese were restricted from entering anyway (but this still spurred the resentment of Han people in the inland, who said that unification was not like unification at all). But Tibet's area is one fourth of the total area of China and Han people have traditionally been able to move freely there, but according to the “middle way,” they need to have a special pass to enter. This seems both unreasonable and impractical.


Progressive Democracy Model

The realities in China and Tibet necessitate a new institutional arrangement to satisfy both parties’ preconditions. This new institutional arrangement should both guarantee China’s sovereignty and let Tibet achieve “high autonomy.” I suggest a multi-tier electoral system, which is based on a successive series of elections starting at the village level. The first stage of building a stable and autonomous Tibet begins with village elections. Each village elects a leader, then the elected village leaders proceed to elect the leader of the township, then the elected township leaders convene to elect a county leader, and so on. Step by step, from township to county, from county to region, the self-governance of Tibet can be gradually realized. When all the prefectures and cities in the Tibetan region form their autonomous committees through progressive democracy, the prefecture and city heads elected by the committees can form an all-Tibetan self-governing committee which includes the Tibetan regions in the four provinces, managing Tibet autonomously.

       The basic building block of this model of democracy is the village-level election. However, these differ from the village elections already taking place in China, which are based on large, artificially created administrative villages with populations between 3,000 and 4,000 people. By contrast, the “natural villages” in my model are organic, existing settlements, where populations are small enough that villagers know each other and share similar interests and needs. This model is well suited to Tibet because Tibetan society is already based on the long established local leadership of a “headman,” a grassroots leader elected by tribes in nomadic areas.[15]

Moreover, this focus on democracy at the village level is appropriate to Tibet’s geographical expanse and low population density create difficulties for the mobilization, electioneering and voting of large-scale elections, such as in those proposed by the Dalai Lama. If direct elections were held for the highest Tibetan offices, few voters would have adequate access to information about the candidates and issues while having even less incentive to cross high mountains to cast their vote. The progressive democracy model holds elections within a manageable scope. Farmers and herdsman scattered in rural areas and pasture land only elect village heads, without the need for travel or casting complicated votes. Votes can be cast by oral expression or raising hands, making training or illiteracy irrelevant. Regarding affairs within the scope of the election, no one is wiser than the local farmers and herdsmen themselves. Even without the use of newspapers or television, candidates can fully communicate with voters. Drawing from their personal experiences with the candidates, voters will not be deluded by empty talk or empty promises. They know about every one in detail and whom they should vote for. As long as the village elections are successful, elections at all levels above will follow naturally.


Preventing independence

The progressive democratic model can both achieve high autonomy for Tibet on the basis of democracy and also ensure that Tibet does not set on a reckless path to independence. In the Dalai Lama’s design of Tibet’s future political framework, there is an interactive chain in which opinion leaders use the media to influence voters, who in turn elect the government, which causes a “plaza effect” to pursue national independence. This form of democracy, with fairly direct representation, would only exacerbate the situation because politicians would rely on inciting public sentiment to get votes. The progressive democracy model, on the contrary, weakens the link between the public and the members of parliament, insulating the leadership from irrational and emotional public desires. If Tibet adopts the progressive democracy model, the committee which would consist of regional governors in Tibet could fully understand the disadvantages of independence and act in the best interest of Tibetans, regardless of public mood.



Creating a pluralistic society

The progressive democracy model can also stabilize heterogeneous groups in Tibet, particularly in regions where many ethnic minorities live together but remain concentrated in their small communities. First, self-governance may be implemented for people of the same ethnic minority in small areas, where minorities live to ensure that their lifestyle and culture are not marginalized by other groups. At a higher level, the people elected from different ethnic minority areas would form a joint administrative committee to achieve the common harmony of multiethnic minorities.

Furthermore, one of the first challenges facing a Tibetan government with high autonomy will be how to deal with the Party and government personnel, retired personnel and employees of state-owned enterprises and utility units supported by the central finance during the communist period. When two distinct camps compete in Western style democracies, the losing side is often disenfranchised in the resulting government. But since progressive democracy guarantees the representation of all village level groups, no one party possesses overwhelming advantages over another, thus ensuring that different camps can coexist in peace. Each group will have its immediate self-governing body which will protect constituents and implement their principles. Different self-governing bodies coordinate and exchange with one another at a higher level of progressive democracy. This structure promotes the co-existence and cooperation of heterogeneous groups until there is sufficient transitional time for the antagonism to weaken and the integration to begin.

Reigning in religious influence

Tibet has a theocratic tradition stretching over several hundred years. Today, even in exile, the 14th Dalai Lama remains both a religious and political leader. Since religion in Tibet greatly affects secular affairs, many assume that any form of democracy would mean placing control in the hands of the Dalai lamas. Critics fear that even if the law forbids religious control of politics (as the Dalai Lama promises) and does not allow monks to take part in elections, many people will still vote according to the Dalai Lamas’ instructions. The law cannot control people’s thinking. If the public will is controlled by religion, then religion will inevitably become the controlling power in politics.

Therefore, how can the cultural role of religion in Tibet be preserved while preventing its domination of politics? This is yet another strength of progressive democracy. Since the public elections occur at the grassroots level, religion is unlikely to become a specific political instrument and will only serve as a general moral background. If the people were to directly vote for the upper leadership like Western representative democracies, living Buddha’s could significantly sway the elections. But the combination of Tibet’s population characteristics and the progressive democratic model would make this unlikely. Roughly 40 percent of the ethnic Tibetan population is nomadic, with herdsmen and farmers comprising 80 percent of the Tibet Autonomous Region’s 2.7 million inhabitants. In these extremely rural and often isolated conditions, local elections would hinge on village-level issues, with big-picture concepts such as religion rarely factoring into the small-scale choices at stake.


A smooth transition

The most important aspect of the successive multitier electoral system is that it nonviolently transforms the totalitarian system from the bottom up, and does not need to directly challenge the highest totalitarian authority from the very beginning. Thus the totalitarian powers are less likely to violently oppose it. In contrast, top-down movements for self-governance inevitably clash with the totalitarian powers at their inception the stage where one must eliminate the other. In the successive multi-tier electoral system, only in the final stages when the chiefs from all the regions in Tibet come together to elect the highest leader would the system completely replace the totalitarian powers in Tibet. By that time, the current regime may no longer have the motivation or power to repress the new system. The advanced self-governance of Tibet could thus be accomplished completely without violence.

There is no doubt that obtaining permission for self-governance directly from the Chinese government requires only a few words from Beijing and would be the easiest road to self-governance. But when will Beijing speak those words? If it never opens its mouth, then must one wait forever, until Tibet is no longer Tibet, and Tibetans are no longer Tibetans? This kind of waiting, with one's destiny in someone else's hands, leaves little room for hope. Though a successive multi-tier electoral system is not easy, at least the destiny of the Tibetan people would be in their own hands.

The final point of progressive democracy is that it can proceed without Beijing’s approval. This path will not be easy and, it may be met with resistance or even persecution from Beijing; however, the progressive democracy system is not easy to disrupt. If authorities imprison the township leader, electing a replacement is easy. The small-scale and informal nature of the local elections make it possible to quickly fill a vacant office. If authorities appoint their own township leader, the village heads would still only recognize the township leader they elected themselves. Though the township leader appointed by the authorities could use the office and the seal of the township, if the village heads do not obey him, he would be nothing more than an empty title. If authorities arrest the second elected township leader, then the village heads continue with a nonviolent method and elect a third township leader. There is no violence in the process, just a willingness to “fill-up prisons” and endless elections. Thus, autonomy is only dependent on the courage and patience of Tibetans and will persist as long as they are willing to stay the course. The hurdles may be very high in the beginning, but the challenges will become increasingly surmountable, and at the finish line, an autonomous Tibet may emerge with little resistance.




No matter how much pressure the international community exerts, external forces cannot solve the Tibet issue. The standard for evaluating progress on the Tibet issue should not rest on how successful attempts at swaying the opinions of foreign actors and politicians are, but rather how much headway they have made within China. Using this criterion, we cannot say that the international community and the exile Tibetan government have been successful.


   Pressure from the international community on China has not been clearly effective, and has often had negative effects. China is a large and increasingly powerful country, not easily swayed by foreign influence. The widespread sanctions after the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989, for example, did little to modify China’s behavior. Due to China’s increasing economic influence, few foreign governments would be willing to ruin their country’s economic survival for the support of Tibet, and China knows it.


However, The Dalai Lama’s success in the international community is not meaningless. Without a certain level of international pressure, the Chinese government would never believe in the need for change. The many economic benefits that the Tibetan regions receive can easily be seen as a result of the efforts of the exiled Tibetans and other international pressures. The primary failure of external Tibetan activists has been a too narrow focus which only attempts to influence decision-makers in Beijing. The exiled government should instead broaden their perspective and recognize that China consists not only of the few people in the central government, but also includes a diverse group of classes and interest groups, many of which are dissatisfied with Beijing’s policies. On the Tibet question, the vast majority of the Han people accept the propaganda of the authorities without objection and stand together with the government. This signifies at least one thing: until now the work of exiled Tibet has not been careful to separate the ordinary Chinese people and the ruling communist regime. The exiled government may have gained support in the international community by condemning China as a whole entity, expressing the sufferings of Tibetans from a ethnic angle, and demanding that the Western community intervene based on the principle that human rights are more important than national sovereignty. But, in China, these tactics have only encouraged the Han people to unite with the Chinese government further on the question of Tibet.


[1] Chen Kuiyuan’s speech at the fifth conference of the responsible party members of the Sixth People’s Congress and Political Consultative Council of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, 14 May 1997.

[2] Yang Miao&Lu Zhan, “Perspective of Religion and Economic development in Tibet,”

Journal of Tibet Nationalities Institute, Issue 1, 2005.

Han Qingjun, “The Evolvement of Economic Policy of Central Government in Tibet Since the Reform,” Journal of Tibet University, Issue 4, 2004.

[3] Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, “Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Tibet”, Published in May 2004. See, http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/ce/celt/eng/xwdt/t125488.htm

[4] Ibid.

[5] The Tibetan Autonomous Region’s Tibet Statistics Yearbook 2007, published by the Center of Tibet Information.

[6] Wang Lixiong, ““Dalai Lama Is the Key to the ‘Tibetan Question.’”

[7] Zhang Hong, “2006, Events in the Train-line of Qing-Tibet,” China Today, Issue 9, 2006.

[8] The Center of Tibet Information, “1983’s Events of CCP in Tibet ”,

See, http://www.tibetinfor.com.cn/zhengfu/zt20020021121144734.htm

[9] “CCP secretary-general Hu Yaobang’s conversation with the Dalai Lama’s brother Gyalo Dondrup in Beijing, July 1981,” Xizang Qingkuang Jianjie (Briefings on Tibet), comp. by the Propaganda Department of the CCP Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (July 1985), 32.

[10] The United Front work Department of CCP,Description of Third Symposium on Tibet Work

See, http://www.zytzb.org.cn/zytzbwz/theory/lishi/lishi110.htm

[11] “The Middle-Way Approach: A Framework for Resolving the Issue of Tibet,” Issued by the Department of Information and International Relations, Exiled Central Tibetan Administration, updated 2006. See, http://www.tibet.net/en/diir/sino/std/imwa.html

[12]“Dalai Lama statement - constitution for the future of Tibetm,” published by Exiled Central Tibetan Administration, See, http://www.freetibet.org/about/dalai4

[13] “Statement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to All Tibetans,” published by the office of Dalai Lama, 5 April, 2008. See, http://www.dalailama.com/news.222.htm

[14] The Tibetan Autonomous Region’s Tibet Statistics Yearbook 2000, published by the Center of Tibet Information.

[15] The headman system was officially abolished under Mao, but returned in the 1980’s and has since been tolerated by the government.

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