Wang Lixiong: Relations at Soccer-Hooliganism Level

Tibetan Snow Lion

Tibetan Snow Lion (གངས་སེང་གེ་)

Wang Lixiong (王力雄) is a Han-Chinese writer and tibetologist, and a critic of Chinese-Tibetan relations, according to Wikipedia (of today). On February 2, he wrote an article for Radio Free Asia (RFA) – republished in Chinese by his wife Tsering Woeser on her blog on Saturday. [Links within blockquotes added by JR]

Wang Lixiong:

In media interviews, I have been asked why I wanted to promote dialog between Chinese netizens and the Dalai Lama. I replied that because of the distortions due to the rulers’ monopolization of exchanges, the Dalai Lama’s saying that he doesn’t seek independence is known to the whole world, while the Chinese authorities have kept telling the Chinese public that the Dalai Lama wants to split China and seeks Tibetan independence.

Deng Xiaoping had said that “besides independence, everything can be discussed” (邓小平对西藏说的 “除了独立什么都可以谈”), but this was autocratic  (专制权力), notes Wang. To see how even exiled Han Chinese, who themselves had no home to return to, kept claiming authority over exiled Tibetans by telling them not to discuss Tibetan independence was a ridiculous sight (和流亡藏人处境一样的中国海外流亡者,自己也是有家不能回,若以为自己有高于藏人的权力,则是一种可笑的错位).

A dialog was an exchange in order to understand each others’ thoughts, beyond those one would like to hear. And compared to a discussion with the Dalai Lama, discussions between other groups of civil society could turn out to be quite challenging, as conflicting views (beyond the Dalai Lama’s middle-way policy) would inevitably be raised.

In November 2008, Wang listed thirteen provincial or ministerial level institutions within the Chinese power structure which dealt with Tibet, and eleven institutions which were assuming “anti-secession” responsibilities more in general. He explained the reasons he saw for the lack of prudence and vision for change and breakthroughs in top-level decision-making:

Bureaucratic “anti-secession” institutions are acting in such a way that when they generate “anti-secession” actions, the outcomes are invariably pushing China towards the abyss of split.


The dynamics of Chinese politics determine that if a few individual or one department hold responsibility for any serious incident, it is acceptable to find scapegoats to calm down the event; therefore tensions among different bureaucratic institutions would not be escalated and forthcoming. However, no single administration can take responsibility for the turmoil in Tibet, since after decades of huge spending and efforts, large-scale protests had openly announced China’s policy failure in Tibet. Yet China’s Tibet policy was co-designed and executed by various institutions and agencies, and admitting its failure is tantamount to announcing failure of the collective efforts of all the aforementioned institutions and “anti-secession” agencies: No one can be excused, and career prospects of many bureaucrats would be affected. Therefore, “anti-secession” bureaucrats must organize themselves as an interest group, to act together and help the bureaucrats in Tibet to shake off responsibility of policy failure.

The most convenient way to get excused is to translate the burden of failure as a result of the “sedition and secession” efforts organized and carefully planned by the “Dalai clique”. Because no matter what excuse is readily available, if it came from within, the bureaucrats have to bear responsibility for the failure; only by throwing the burden off the country can the bureaucrats be totally excused.

Some of what Wang writes will be familiar to many non-Chinese readers anyway. Interestingly, he also addresses conflicts between Chinese and Western society – and specifically, how Chinese readers lost trust in Western media, and how Western media themselves were pushed to the opposite side of long-term enemies (Chapter 4), and warned that Western people’s attitudes are by and large guided by the media.

The bureaucracy had no reason to care about Western opinions, but they were seized as an opportunity to garner unprecedented support among the Chinese people.

No rationality can exist between two opposing camps. Both sides will use simple criteria for identification, as if soccer hooliganism humiliating the opposing side, without valid reasons and without right or wrong. Once Western people and media deemed that Chinese people in general possess colonizers’ mentality, they will believe that Tibet must be freed from Chinese rule, regardless of knowing what changes China’s political system will experience. The promise made by China’s dissidents holding that Tibet would be free once China becomes democratic will not be trustworthy, because institutional change is not the same with the change of people’s mentality. This will greatly increase the difficulties when future China handles the issue of Tibet.


» On Events in Aba, Sources, Kristiana Henderson, April 23, 2011
» The Dalai Tree and its Scattered Monkeys, April 3, 2011
» Informatization in Vast Territories, October 22, 2010
» Caliphate, Anyone, Farish A Noor, August 20, 2007

Update / Related
Wang Lixiang’s database suffers cyberattack, High Peaks, Pure Earth tweet, abut 10:00 GMT.

High Peaks / Woeser

3 Responses to “Wang Lixiong: Relations at Soccer-Hooliganism Level”

  1. Great essay and analysis, JR. This is one of those “print it up and read it again over lunch” kind of posts. In some ways you touch upon the most terrifying thing of all for the CCP in Tibet: when Tibetans take rhetoric of CCP leaders completely literally and go ahead and try to carve out (justified) space based on Deng’s explicit principles!



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