|[standing] Phuntsok Tashi, Panchen Lama, Ngabo, Phunwang, Juchen Thubten Namgyal|
Earlier, the CCP’s General Secretary Zhao Ziyang’s memoirs had also been distributed by the same firm.
In his autobiography titled A Long Way to Equality and Unity, Phunwang apparently pleads with Beijing to compromise with Dharamsala and to allow the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet.
According to The South China Morning Post, the book says: “Phunwang appealed to former President Hu Jintao and several members of the Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee to allow the hundreds of thousands of exiled Tibetan compatriots headed by the Dalai Lama to return home, live and work in peace”.
Similar appeals were ignored by Beijing in the past.
In a chapter titled, ‘We cannot walk the road towards a Chinese Empire’, Phunwang warns the Chinese government that it should not rely on violence and economic development to rule over Tibet.
The Publisher in Hong Kong explained that Phunwang’s health has been deteriorating quickly. “He couldn’t proofread the book anymore, this is why we have to publish the full version of the book as it is.”
A return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet is a Dream, but not a Chinese Dream.
On July 28, 1981, while in Beijing, Gyalo Thondup, the Dalai Lama brother, met the CCP General Secretary Hu Yaobang who gave him the parameters of future negotiations.
The Chinese issued a policy statement: only the status of the Dalai Lama and his future role in case he returned to the ‘motherland’ can be discussed. Here is the text of the 1981 Five-Point Communiqué from Beijing:
- The Dalai Lama should be confident that China has entered a new stage of long-term political stability, steady economic growth and mutual help among all nationalities.
- The Dalai Lama and his representatives should be frank and sincere with the Central Government, not beat around the bush. There should be no more quibbling over the events in 1959.
- The central authorities sincerely welcome the Dalai Lama and his followers to come back to live. This is based on the hope that they will contribute to upholding China's unity and promoting solidarity between the Han and Tibetan nationalities, and among all nationalities, and the modernization programme.
- The Dalai Lama will enjoy the same political status and living conditions as he had before 1959. It is suggested that he not go to live in Tibet or hold local posts there. Of course, he may go back to Tibet from time to time. His followers need not worry about their jobs and living conditions. These will only be better than before.
- When the Dalai Lama wishes to come back, he can issue a brief statement to the press. It is up to him to decide what he would like to say in the statement.
A couple of years later, when the Dalai Lama expressed the wish to visit Tibet, this was rejected by Beijing.
Here are excerpts of my book: The Negotiations that never were.
It shows that Phunwang’s wishes may not materialize soon, though the Dalai Lama has since then dropped the idea of ‘independence’.
You can also read my article on Phunwang and the Tibetan Flag.
The First Political Contacts
In April 1982, a delegation comprising Juchen Thubten Namgyal, the senior most ministers of the Kashag, Phuntsok Tashi and Lodi Gyari left for Beijing for preliminary talks with the Chinese authorities. Their first demand was the reunification of the three traditional provinces of Tibet (Kham, Amdo and U-Tsang) under a common administration.
…Juchen Thubten Namgyal [later] explained: “We discussed with three Chinese officials of the United Front Work Department. One of the objectives was to enquire about the letter sent by the Dalai Lama to Deng.”
The three fact-finding delegations went to Tibet on the basis of 1978 Deng Xiaoping’s 1978 statement (“It is better to see once than to hear a hundred times”), while the purpose of the visit of Juchen Thubten and his colleagues to Beijing was to hold discussions on the future of Tibet.
The Envoys first discussed the nine-point offer from the Communists to the Kuomintang regime in Taiwan. Beijing had proposed that 3 important issues politics, finance and defense could remain with the Formosans. All other subjects could be shared. When the Tibetan representatives raised the ‘one-country, two-system’ formula that Beijing was ready to grant to Taiwan and Hong Kong, the Chinese bluntly refused and said that it was not applicable to Tibet which had already been ‘liberated’ by the 17 Point Agreement.
Namgyal recalls that many believed at that time that the ‘Taiwan’ formula, providing local autonomy, could be the basis for a solution to the Tibet issue.
This formula was a proof that Beijing did not want to impose a communist regime on the rebel island. Namgyal recalled: “At a time the Taiwanese people (themselves Chinese by race) were granted this by the Communist regime; we, as [non-Chinese] asked logically for more liberties for the people of Tibet.”
The Tibetan delegates insisted on the reunification of the 3 provinces: “I made this point very clear to the Chinese officials, the way of thinking and the way of acting of the Communist government of China is not correct. The Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) has a population of 1,700,000 and Karze (located outside the TAR in Kham province), has a population of 800,000 people. They have been [administratively] forced to join with [mainland] China who are 1 billion people. This is not correct. The Tibetan people are poles apart from the Chinese, they are totally different and they are forced to stay together under the Sichuan [administration]. Why should they stay together?”
The Chinese answered: “Taiwan has to be liberated, you cannot argue by using the case of Taiwan. Tibet has already been liberated 33 years ago and decisions have already been made. It is because Taiwan has not been liberated, that we made this nine-point offer. It is not the case for Tibet.”
The ‘negotiations’ lasted more than a month. At the end the Chinese asked: “Are you taking these positions because you are representatives of the Dalai Lama or as representatives of the Tibetan Government in exile? If you are saying all this as representatives of the Tibetan Government in exile, we have nothing to say to you?”
Clearly, the Chinese authorities wanted to stick to the 5-point plan for the Dalai Lama and did not want to discuss the fate or rights of the Tibetan people. The Chinese have kept the same position since then, even today more than 27 years after the first dialogue [my book was published in 2009]. Beijing does not recognize the existence of the Tibetan government in exile or the Tibetan Assembly.
…Around that same time, General Secretary Hu Yaobang came more and more under the conservatives’ pressure. This appeared in the agenda of China's Second Work Forum on Tibet, held in Beijing in March-April 1984. Hu Yaobang had to announce that Beijing had decided to encourage Hans to settle in Tibet. Hu further confirmed that there would no change in the "Five-point Policy toward the Dalai Lama". It was obvious that the leadership in Beijing was no longer interested to see the Dalai Lama back in China.
A month later, the Tibetan Autonomous Region's Party boss Yin Fatang accused the Dalai Lama of treason. If he wanted to return, he would have to admit his ‘mistakes' first.
In October 1984, the same Tibetan delegation returned to Beijing. In the meantime the Dalai Lama had expressed his wish to visit Tibet in 1985. Though the 1984 talks were the follow-up of the 1982 visit, the main subject of the discussions was the proposed visit of the Dalai Lama to his native land.
During the talks, Juchen Thubten Namgyal and his colleagues asked that the Tibetan people should be given the right of self determination. Their argument was the Tibetan people enjoy all the qualifications for the purpose. The Tibetans told their Chinese interlocutors that the Communist Party had passed a resolution in 1931 stating that all minorities, especially the Mongolians and the Tibetans had the right, either to stay with China or to get self determination or even to secede and get independence. They pointed out that in 1946 Mao Zedong had repeated the same proposal.
Regarding the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tibet, the Chinese told the Tibetans that he was most welcome, though no foreign press people should accompany him. Moreover, they could not invite him in 1985. There was “a lot of construction inside Tibet at that time, there were 42 sites of construction in 6 districts”. Further, the preparations for the 20th anniversary of the Tibetan Autonomous Region were going on in full swing. The Chinese authorities in Tibet were too busy to receive the Dalai Lama!
About self-determination, they pointed out that though it was true that a resolution was passed in 1931, at that time the Communist Party was a small child. Now the Party had grown and the circumstances had changed. Further in 1931, the resolution was passed under some external pressure. A final decision had been taken during a Congress meeting held in Nanjing in 1957. The problems of the minorities were discussed; the Chinese officials added that some Tibetan representatives were even present.
…The final conclusion from the Tibetan envoy was: “We can see today that the Tibetans are not happy in Tibet, though you have done a lot to improve their condition, you have not taken care of their [deeper] aspiration. In this, you have failed.”
Thirty years later, nothing much has changed.