Tibet Needs Tactics
Written by Wang Lixiong
Translated by Ogyen
The current crisis in Tibet seems replicating that of 2008.
We cannot deny the fact that repetition does make sense, especially in terms of protesting. However, the problem is not with the protesters but with the protested party and the party that represents the protests. Four years is not short, both parties have kept lingering without even the slightest breakthrough.
The protested party deals with the protests in their usual manner with even more intensified repressions.
Those represent the protests too, as usual, keep following the protesters. The protests are still unorganized, spontaneous and dispersed. Sacrifices through self-immolations too as usual, except being more severe ways of protesting, will yield no result.
Had any party yielded any breakthrough after 2008, there would not be crisis repeating as we see currently.
In the past, when led by the CCP leaders, there came startling changes in policies on Tibet – too leftist to the extent of destruction of religions during “Cultural Revolution” and too rightist to the scale of Hu Yaobang withdrawing Hans from Tibet. The CCP today has become merely a machine for the clique of bureaucrats and a machine has only programs and inertia. The double policies of violent repression and economic bribery implemented in Tibet are the profiteering techniques of the bureaucratic clique, thus there will never be a breakthrough to the Tibet issue.
The Tibetans in Tibet are vigilantly watched upon and cannot be organized without free information, what they can do are provisionally unorganized and scattered protests. Self-immolations are extreme cases of such protests.
Thus, only the overseas Tibetans can most probably achieve breakthroughs. There they have organization, base, freedom, knowledge, the Dalai Lama and great spiritual masters, leagues and media, also international support etc. However, merely following the Tibetans inside Tibet to keep issuing statements, support the protests, pray, are good and required though, these are not breakthroughs.
What the Tibetans in Tibet really need are clearly defined directions and tactics that can materialize their dreams.
The old man beside the Yellow River said, “There was no road upstream earlier and so loggers used to transport their timbers by the river. At places, the river flows through narrow gorges that sometimes blocked a log and this log further blocked the logs that followed, continuous piling-up would turn into a wooden blockade to the river itself in the end. Here an expert had to be sought for help finding, among the very sophisticated intertwined web of logs, the key log – that was the blockade’s 'fulcrum', cutting which would allow the entire blockade collapse and blown downstream."
To get out of the crisis, such a “fulcrum” has to be found.
I believe this must be a tactic. Strategies are what we think but tactics are what we actually do to achieve that strategy. Different social set-ups, in the end, are different tactics – feudalism, communism, separation of powers among the three pillars of democracy, representative system etc, none are not tactics. Strategy is futile without tactics, if there is a tactic that can change a society, strategy is already within it.
Anything in the world needs tactics and so for resolving the Tibet issue.
I already mentioned earlier that what the Dalai Lama wanted was ethnic regional autonomy which can start from village autonomy. As I said, there are doubts regarding “what Chinese can do cannot be done by Tibetans”, “we will be labeled as separatists and cracked-down upon” etc. The problem is, are these reasons not to do anything at all? Are street protests too not suppressed? Everything would be suppressed except doing nothing. Here is the same answer – Not even scared of self-immolating, how comes scared of suppression?
People say, “Wukan model required the collective courage of all the villagers while self-immolations the courage of selective individuals”. However, thousands of Tibetans take part in the protests, are those not collective courage? Those protests are done under gun-points and so actually required more courage than seeking village autonomy. Village autonomy is guaranteed by the Chinese law and thus much less riskier than the street protests. Then why not using more courage to pursue less riskier demands?
Another suspicion is that the authorities would not allow Tibetans to have village autonomy like Chinese do, I do not deny that. However, it should be understood who accepts whom in the case of pursuit of village autonomy. The right to recognize legitimacy of the village power is with the villagers themselves, not with the authorities. Only if the villagers can persist with their own acceptance, it is the authorities who have to compromise in the end (like Wukan village in Guangdong province). Village autonomy does not involve bigger national issues and it is at par with Chinese law. By replacing street protests with struggle for village autonomy, the authorities cannot persist denying forever as it is to some extent, in the interest of the authorities.
In fact, unlike street protests that are so striking; unlike the consequent shootings that are so tragic, village autonomy is a way of normal daily life. Any struggle needs to think of the next step – whether can be continued or not, keep moving to the next step towards the goal, further next step … What is the next step to street protests? Riots? Uprising? Revolution? Regime change? Is it possible? What is the next step to self-immolations? To become a hot international news? Pushing the world to put pressure on China? Will Tibet issue be resolved in this way? Is it possible?
However, the next step to village autonomy is clear, it is to retain autonomy. Autonomy is itself the goal and the villagers themselves have all the power that does not have to be externally bestowed. When one village achieves autonomy, culture, religion and environment can be protected within that village. With more villages achieving autonomy, area of protection too expands accordingly. The difference between village autonomy and regional autonomy is merely by scale. If many villages in a town attain autonomy, the elected village heads become the Township Committee that adopts township autonomy; if many towns in a district get autonomy, the elected heads of the town become District Committee that adopts district autonomy…….until ethnic regional autonomy is achieved.
If Dharamsala really wants to do something, it should not be what the Tibetans in Tibet have been doing like “No losar program” etc. Also not the same old activities like what to wear to symbolize what, these are just formalities that do not help in actual sense and have done a lot in the past which in turn, offended the Chinese government that condemned the Tibetans abroad to have instigated the problems in Tibet. According to me, a call for autonomy for each Tibetan village in Tibet would avoid the current crisis in Tibet. Dharamsala should strive researching on schemes to organize village autonomy in Tibet, experiment these schemes, train people to promote it in Tibet. However doing it, it helps China implement its own laws and thus it is an act of cooperating with the Chinese government and not the other way round; it is an effort to coordinate between Beijing and the authorities in Tibetan regions and not an opposition. Thus, Dharamsala too does not have to bear with so many constrains in its dealing with Beijing, the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way too can here be started and implemented.
Of course, nobody expects gratitude from the Chinese government for this but the Chinese people would definitely sympathize and support as they too themselves struggle for the same autonomy. Future China belongs to the Chinese people.
Had the pursuit for village autonomy started right after 2008, this current crisis would not have occurred. However, if this is not to be started even today, such crisis will too repeat in future.