Bao Tong: Talk to Dalai Lama

A former top official in China’s ruling Communist Party has called on the Chinese government to open talks with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as a matter of urgency. Bao Tong, former aide to ousted late premier Zhao Ziyang, says both Tibetans and Han Chinese have suffered at the hands of a Maoist political philosophy. He wrote this essay, broadcast by RFA’s Mandarin service, from his Beijing home, where he has lived under house arrest since his release from jail in the wake of the 1989 student movement:

Take harmony seriously; talk to the Dalai Lama

The Lhasa incident has caused massive grief for all the Tibetan people and all of China. Anyone who has ever been through a great historical tragedy will understand its significance. The Chinese government spokesman said the whole thing was orchestrated by the Dalai Lama — a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize — from behind the scenes. However, as a reader from Europe put it: “Nobody here believes what the Chinese government says.”

That one phrase is more eloquent that 10,000 words. It renders the spokesman’s words meaningless. Because it shows how ordinary readers are quite capable of making their own considered and independent decision not to believe what the Chinese government says, but instead use their own experience as a basis for deciding what to think.

Bao’s statement follows a similar call for dialogue issued by 29 dissents, including prominent figures Liu Xiaobo and Wang Lixiong, last weekend.

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