The Quiet Heroes of Tibet

Howard French reposted some of the text of a New York Review of Books article from December 19, 2007:

Wang Lixiong, who is one of the very few Chinese intellectuals to have met the Dalai Lama, told me that Tibetans have no faith in the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama, whom they refer to as “that little brat.” He thinks that the Chinese missed an opportunity in suppressing Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the Dalai Lama’s candidate for the seat of the Panchen Lama. Traditionally, Panchen Lamas have had a crucial part in choosing the Dalai Lama, and had the Chinese respected the choice of Nyima and educated him carefully, they would have had a good chance of legitimizing their choice of the next Dalai Lama. As things stand now, few Tibetans are likely to accept the decisions of China’s substitute.

Remarking on the missteps the Chinese have made in Tibet, Wang said that market reforms have weakened Beijing’s authority. Communications between central and provincial governments have broken down, leading to arbitrary and thoughtless decisions such as the expulsion of Woeser from Lhasa, which has led to her acquiring bolder views and a higher profile in Beijing. Communist Party officials correctly feel themselves most vulnerable in regions like Tibet and Xinjiang, where Han Chinese are a minority; the oppressive atmosphere of the Cultural Revolution still lingers in Tibet, where villagers are required to fly the Communist flag and display a picture of a laughing President Hu Jintao flanked by Tibetans in colorful ethnic costumes. Tibetans talking to foreigners invite the attention of the police. By contrast, small spaces for dissent have opened up almost imperceptibly in Beijing and the coastal cities, escaping the scrutiny of officials who are busy either pursuing private fortunes or grappling with corruption, social breakdown, and environmental disasters.

March 18, 2008 12:38 PM
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Categories: Politics