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Monday, 5 September 2011

My stance on the Tibet issues

Hyperlink to source text in Chinese: 我对西藏问题的态度   
Translated by @krizcpec

There have been lots of news lately. What attracted people's attention were the unrest in Tibet and the election in Taiwan, both are related to our lives and rights. Whatever that are related to our lives and rights are things worth thinking over, and talking about.

Regarding the issues of Tibet, many wanted to know my views. Below are my thoughts, which might not be comprehensive. Please correct me if I am wrong.

First: Discard the notion that the country should stay unified even if that means all are doomed.

It's deeply rooted in the mind of the Chinese people the unreasonable love for maintaining state unity. They never ask themselves if this would harm their rights. I think that individual's rights are more important than unity of the state – something that is irrelevant to our lives.

Whatever form of unity and ethnic identity there may be, there are conditions. I would not agree with the opinion that maintaining state unity is a absolute must, no matter how impoverished the people may become; or even if the people would end up without dignity and freedom.

I think that ethnic identity and state unity must be forged on the basis that everyone has the freedom of choice and a sense of inner recognition. Otherwise no one would feel happy. It is wrong to make people identify with you without respecting their free will.

Second: I am pro-autonomy, but not easily pro-independence. That Tibet is to become an independent country would affect the interests and feelings of way too many people. Of course the wishes of the Tibetans should be respected. But there has to be a limit to this. It costs too much for Tibet to become independent. Many clashes may result. In view of this, I advocate for granting Tibet genuine autonomy and keeping it part of China.

But the authorities must let the Tibetans enjoy genuine autonomy, and do not manipulate them or give them fake autonomy which the Tibetans cannot decide matters on their own and have to obey the central government. One such bad example is the autonomy for Hong Kong after 1997.

Third: I oppose violence from individuals; and I oppose all the more violence from the government. If what the authorities said is true, that there was “a small fraction” of Tibetans burning, killing, and robbing, I would not sympathize with them, however justified they might be.

And of course, from the viewpoint of the Tibetans, and from the Dalai Lama – who has sent his brothers for high-level talk with the CCP numerous times, they have been hoping for a peaceful solution to the issues of Tibet. However, every time when new people assume office, the central government has become less and less sincere in its commitment to achieving a peaceful solution – something that the central government should reflect on.

The government should honor civilized politics, and abandon violence; it should know that negotiation and making compromise are the right things to do.

Fourth: a government that is open and honorable would not block the news. If it accused the Tibetans of creating a disturbance, why doesn't it let journalists to report it? It would be fair to say that it is exactly the blockade of information that escalated the issues. It is unrealistic to expect that rumors find no credence with the wise. Rumors can only be stopped by freedom of speech, by freedom of the press, and free flow of information. Let the truth stop the rumors. Do not conceal the truth and allow the spread of rumors. 

Fifth: To shut everyone up and allow only one voice of judgment, the voice of the central government. This is a very tyrant and ridiculous logic.

Blocking the flow of information, banning journalists from interviewing freely, and then came up with the conclusion that the so-called Dalai clique was masterminding the unrest. This is absurd. Don't underestimate the people's normal ability to judge, this only reflects how unreasonable and stupid the [central] government is when handling these matters.

Sixth: The government should improve its capacity of response to public relations crisis. The way it handled the snow storm earlier this year was not good enough; this is also true with how it handle what happened in Lhasa this time round.

For decades repression has been the standard way of the [central] government's handling of dissident views, and different rights demands. It hasn't occurred to the authorities that change is needed. The government should get rid of this rigid approach gradually. Stop assuming the interests of the government itself tops all priorities. Change. Don't wait until it's too late. This society has become increasingly pluralistic in interests: interests of individuals, of ethnic groups, and of the nation; all these should be highly and truly respected.

Seventh: Demands regarding races, religions, and human rights are very difficult to deal with. The government should negotiate with sincerity, instead of resorting to repression with the use of armed force.

I myself is of an ethnic minority group, and had worked in Tibetan region. Naturally there are good and bad Tibetan people. Yet the feelings of the Tibetans, their ethnic identity, religious belief and freedom of choice are a big question. One cannot say the government's doing good enough in tackling these matters, there's room for improvement. Or perhaps one can say that the government's way of ruling the Tibetan region in the past few decades has not been good enough. This is a fact that can easily be found out by paying attention to the causes of the Tibetans' discontent. Articles on this topic are abundant on the Internet, just search for them and read.

Eighth: I oppose all kinds of terrorist activities, whether they are originated from the government or the people. If the Tibetan people demand independence by taking it out on the Chinese, killing every one of them they come across, they would lose real sympathy and understanding. Just look at the Palestinians, I know it's tough for them. But to resort to suicide attacks would be what sensible people cannot agree with. Terrorist activities are the tumors in politics and life. This premise is applicable to all groups that demand independence or autonomy.

Ninth: The year of the Olympics would of course be eventful. I wish the government would exercise restraint, be tolerant, compassionate, and has the goodwill to tackle responsibly the demands from various groups and individuals, including those victims who were forced to move from their homes to make way for the Olympics; do not oppress their rightful demands because of the Olympics. 
It's not right for a government to keep thinking that some people are using the Olympics as an excuse to stir up troubles; it should find out what has driven these people to do this.

Look at the United States, why when that country hosted the Olympics, very few among its citizens boycotted it? – even if there were such boycotts, they were not banned. It's perfectly normal that in society, there are people who disagree. 

[And then look back here.] The reason of this different reaction from the public in two countries was that in the United States the Olympics was hosted in a way that respected the people, criticism of it was allowed; whereas in China, we are not allowed to criticize it in public - what is more, the authorities has stressed that in the year of the Olympics everything else has to be put aside. There is no bigger mistake than this.

Whatever major activities that may be, they should not get in the way of the people's daily lives. Likewise, the incident of Lhasa should be resolved rationally, and not oppress it brutally because of the Olympics.

Tenth: the key to truly resolve the issue of Tibet and of China is to gradually bring forth freedom and democracy. Without freedom and democracy, many problems of China, let alone those of Tibet, would have no solution. Dictatorship is a form of government that is unacceptable, that harms the rights and dignity of the people. It has to be changed. That's the irreversible trend. 
March 20, 2008 at 8:00 in Chengdu

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