Monday, July 27, 2009

Meeting Wang Lixiong

This weekend went superbly well. I had the opportunity of meeting one of the foremost Chinese writer and political commentator on Tibet, Wang Lixiong.

We were able to invite him for a dinner and an informal meeting. It was at Lobsang Wangyal's studio. Lobsang was kind enough to be the host for the gathering. Our goal for the meeting was actually different then many other similar meetings.

The idea was to tell him more about exile then to ask him about China or Tibet. We wanted to make him familiar with the realities in exile.

Lobsang Wangyal was kind enough to present various aspects of exile life through different examples. Wang Lixiong seemed extremely interested in "Miss Tibet Pageant" and "Tibetan Olympics". He expressed his happiness in seeing how different individuals are trying to do new things.

We had earlier heard rumours that some Tibetan guy banged his fist on the table and left the meeting on one such meeting with Wang Lixiong in Dharamsala. I thought it was just a rumour, but we came to know that it actually happened. Whatever, this guy's reasons were, I think, it was not a nice thing to do. His Holiness the Dalai lama has always stressed upon the need for dialogue with common Chinese people. Banging our fists on the table would only harm this cause. It made me sad, as well as embarrassed. Therefore, we made sure that we present to him a positive side of the Tibetan people and its culture. Making sure that we are not in anyway disrespectful or unreasonable.

I had read a bit about his youth. One of the things I read was that he travelled along the Yangtze river during his youth and came across many Tibetan territories. His interest grew in Tibet after this and then he started to take a keen eye on all issues pertaining to Tibet. I asked him, " As a youth, who studied mechanical engineering, how come you took interest in politics, was it because of the period of time you were in, what was teh motivation to travel along Yangtze river?"

" I studied engineering, but it was more of the party's choice then mine. In those days, we didnt choose what to study. Still, the scientific principles of reasoning and logic, proved very useful to me throughout my life."

He continued," In ancient chinese lore, literature, history, mythology; the role of rivers in bringing change, new ideas, civilisations had always been very prominent. Thus, my motivation to travel along Yangtze, to find something new and to find myself. As I travelled along the river, I discovered a totally different culture when i came across tibetan territories. This grabbed my attention and I became more interested".

I further asked him, " Isn't it difficult to write about Tibet in a way much different from the Chinese government's viewpoint? Don't you get into trouble?"

"Yes one does get into trouble if one is not careful. However, it depends upon how you work and what kind of actions you take and in what manner. The fabric of Chinese authority is much more complicated then, merely looking at it as a ruthless, all pervading system. It has its discrepancies, loopholes and issues."

One of my questions was about Mao Zedong. So far I have read only one book about him and that was Jun Chang's "Mao:The Unknown Story".

I asked Wang Lixiong, " What do you think Mao was like? Was he actually the complete ruthless man with no goodness, as Jun Chang puts in her book or was he different?"

"Different people have different views on Mao, but I think there's always two sides of the coin. I think many of the things that happened during that period were also out of his hands. But still I don't deny many of the bad things that he did".Wang Lixiong

While parting after dinner, He added," Tibetans in Tibet and Tibetans in exile, no matter under what circumstances they have grown, they still display many of the same essential Tibetan qualities. I firmly believe that you will feel at home, when you come back to Tibet."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has reiterated many times upon the need for more contacts between the Chinese people and the Tibetans. He had over the years expressed his faith in the Chinese people more then his faith in Chinese government.

Most of us are well aware as to how much Chinese language is important these days. This meeting has further made me understand that it is significant for any Tibetan to learn Chinese, if at all we want to talk to Chinese people. Even with two translators present, I felt if only I could speak Chinese, i would have been more articulate and expressive in what I was trying to say.

I hope the CTA(Central Tibetan administration) realises this and starts teaching Chinese at all the Tibetan schools. I think TCV(Tibetan Children's Village) can take an initiative in this direction since it is an autonomous school with lesser bureaucratic hurdles. There are a few steps being taken in this direction, but i have been hearing about it since 5 years back but so far nothing has come to the fore front. We must hurry.

Whatever his beliefs are? Wang Lixiong seemed to be a reasonable man, with a good understanding of both the Tibetan and the Chinese side of the story. And such meetings should not be affected by what anyone's personal views are. Tibetans must always take a positive role whenever such an opportunity arrives. I gave the man respect, listened to him, expressed my views and we parted cordially.

To read more about Wang Lixiong go here.

To read one of his write ups translated in English, titled, "Road Map of Tibet Independence" go here.


  1. Thank you for that very interesting and informative discussion. I agree, peaceful conversation is the only way to understand your neighbors point of view and to help them to understand yours.

  2. Nice blog.
    Please visit my blog as well.
    It contains pictures of China and Tibet.

  3. Amazing!

    Let me also share one of my experiences.

    Very recently I also got called for a coffee meeting with an employee at Chinese embassy here in New Delhi. When he proposed to meet, it didn't take me any wink a moment to say 'Yes'. We met over a Coffee at Cafe Coffee Day.

    It was really very cordial moment. He works as Information Officer at the embassy. It was such an amazing thing to discuss things cordially even when both of us believed differently on Tibetan cause. I listened to him and he listened to me too. We agreed to disagree with each other.

    Other than politics, we talked like friends and he shared with me a similar experience like that of Wang. He told me about a young Tibetan men shouting at him at a seminar at St. Stephen. Then again he shared me another incidence of where a lot of Chinese students telling him about how young Tibetans at DU helped them find accommodations in Delhi and all..

    We were supposed to meet for only about an hour, however we ended up talking about everything for about more than 2 hours!! He didn't like the TYC members protesting at Chinese embassy not for any other reason but only for making the embassy turned into a fortress! He said, "We used to call our friends to the embassy for movies, snacks and lunches. But now it is impossible to do that with hundred of policemen guarding the embassy." He called (just like any Chinese man working for the government) the TYC members "Radicals". However, when I asked him he had met any of them, he denied. I told him, he just met one. I am a TYC member and I can listen and talk. All said and done, he was also very happy to meet a Tibetan outside Tibet.

    Didn't think of writing about this meeting. But I did share the experiences with other Tibetans here. I really believe, we Tibetans should really work hard to build human relationship with Chinese people.

    I really liked the idea of “Friendship Group for Tibetan & Chinese People”

  4. This is very constructive. I have more faith in communication between peoples than in the CCP (Chinese Communist Party).

    As it was observed in a recent meeting between Tibetan and Chinese intellectuals, there are four hundred thousand CCP members whose careers depend on 'squashing separatism'. These people are a big hurdle and obstacle against a peaceful settlement over Tibet.

  5. Very nice stories!

    At heart we all share the same interests and desires about our lives. Central to Buddhism is the awareness of the connectedness of all life and all things. The Tibet problems are not between the people of Gyantse and the people and friends of Dharamsala vs. the people Tianjin and Beijing.

    The struggles of the powerful for resources, money and more power are the crux of the problem, and has been the crux of most other conflicts in our histories.

    As Buddhists we love all people. At heart as lovers of life, we oppose domination and control. Love thy neighbor. Free Tibet.

  6. Yes Wang Lixiong is an exceptional human being, and I'm sure the Chinese official that Lhakpa Tsering met was also a cut apart from the average Chinese one might meet in Beijing or Chengdu. While all efforts must be made to communicate with Chinese, it must also be understood that most Chinese cannot engage in thoughtful dialog on Tibet, and we don't have the time or manpower to win over every Chinese.

  7. Definitely we can't win the heart of each and every Chinese. And yes thoughtful dialogue on Tibet seems to be an uphill battle. But neither do we have manpower or the resources to win it any other way. Enlighten us, if you have any other practical ideas.I don't think we have to bash (i don't mean physically) every other chinese we meet on the street without any meaningful outcome. Any non-violent effort in bringing the other side to the table is our prerogative not theirs.But definitely, thank you for expressing your opinion on this piece. I appreciate it!