Li Jianglin: The Dalai Lama and Zhao Ziyang

Tibetan and Chinese editions of the preface written by His Holiness for the Zhao Ziyang Collection

I reread Gao Yu’s article “Zhao Ziyang Rehabilitated Aba’s “New Rebellion” ten years ago on the IPKMedia website. I think it is time to officially publish a document in my hand, so that readers will have greater interest in learning about Sichuan The Cultural Revolution and Aba’s “new rebellion”, I learned that Zhao Ziyang rehabilitated more than 30,000 “new rebels” Tibetans when he was the secretary of the Sichuan Provincial Party Committee in the late Cultural Revolution, and proposed to oppose and criticize the theory that “the essence of the ethnic issue is a class issue”. deeds out.

Ten years ago, I had the last opportunity to travel in Tibetan areas of the four provinces, interviewing some people in private about my historical research. I was deeply impressed by the memories and nostalgia of Zhao Ziyang, the first secretary of the provincial party committee from 1975 to 1980, by the Han and Tibetan cadres in Sichuan. Almost everyone who met Zhao Ziyang in those five years could vividly describe to me what Zhao Ziyang said back then, and the open-minded and decisive style of Zhao Ziyang’s handling of problems. Sichuanese are historically people with the attitude of “the sky is high and the emperor is far away”, and their style of speaking and treating people is very different from Beijing or Shanghai. However, contemporary Sichuan is a province that Beijing controls extremely harshly, and there are invisible forbidden areas everywhere, especially historical materials related to Tibet, which are extremely dangerous forbidden areas. However, many people, especially old friends of Zhao Ziyang’s old subordinates during his time in Sichuan, still opened their minds to me and told me how Zhao Ziyang investigated, understood and handled Tibet-related affairs.

From an old Sichuan subordinate of Zhao Ziyang, I heard about an incident before Zhao Ziyang died under house arrest. According to him, Zhao Ziyang’s relatives and friends once conveyed Zhao Ziyang’s wishes to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, asking the Dalai Lama to recite and pray for him after his death. Zhao Ziyang is a cadre of the Communist Party of China who has been engaged in revolutionary work all his life. The Dalai Lama is an exile who has been severely blocked by the CCP since the 1990s. He is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan nation and the supreme teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. In my research, I have not read any historical data that Zhao Ziyang and the Dalai Lama himself had a relationship. Therefore, for historical researchers, this extraordinary news needs to be verified and verified.

Later, when I had the opportunity to interview His Holiness the Dalai Lama in India, I posed this question to His Holiness. His Holiness answered in the affirmative. So I immediately conveyed to His Holiness a wish of Zhao Ziyang’s old men in Sichuan, asking His Holiness to write a preface in memory of Zhao Ziyang for them.

Soon after, I received the Dalai Lama’s foreword that His Holiness’s office asked me to transmit. This is printed on light yellow Dalai Lama’s special letterhead, in both Tibetan and Chinese, with the autograph of His Holiness.

Tibetan version of the preface written by His Holiness for the Zhao Ziyang Collection 1
Tibetan version of the preface written by His Holiness for the Zhao Ziyang Collection 2

Since then, the political environment in Tibetan areas and Sichuan has become worse and worse, and the leading cadres sent by the CCP to Tibet and Xinjiang have become more and more stubborn. Sichuan has become the most politically sensitive place for Tibet-related issues, and Tibet and Xinjiang have become the most important places for human rights in the contemporary world. disaster area. The names of Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama have become taboos in the CCP, and no one dares to mention them. This preface has never had the opportunity to be published in China.

It’s been almost ten years. Now I use the IPKMEDIA website to officially publish this document. Looking back at the Sino-Tibetan relations in the eras of Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, we can at least understand that history does not have a fixed “objective law” and there is no single path. Politics is the art of possibility, it is man-made. So far, border areas such as Tibet and Xinjiang are still the most vulnerable places for the legitimacy of the CCP’s rule, and there are no signs of becoming benign. Those who came from the 1980s, especially those who remember Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang’s reform and opening-up spirit, can fully understand that a foundation for common development can be established between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the reformists of Hu and Zhao. History could have been a better, more harmonious and more beneficial path for people and countries. I can imagine that Zhao Ziyang had thought a lot and understood a lot during the more than ten years under house arrest. And His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has been in exile for more than 60 years, has never changed the compassion and wisdom of the great ancient Indian Buddhism.

The Chinese version of the preface written by His Holiness for the Zhao Ziyang Collection

The original Chinese version of His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

In my life, I have interacted with and met many important leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. More than half a century ago, when I attended the National People’s Congress and visited Beijing and other places, I saw many idealistic and dedicated Chinese communists who, in order to realize the prosperity of the toiling masses all over the world, I am moved and admired by a happy life and enthusiastic devotion to work. Although the Chinese people have suffered a lot in the next half century, and most of these sufferings are precisely due to human errors, I have always believed that some of the ideals of these early revolutionaries were in line with the Buddha’s beliefs about sentient beings. Equal teaching. We cannot and need not give up such universal values ​​today because of human error in the past.

Although I have not met Mr. Zhao Ziyang, I know a little about his and Hu Yaobang’s pragmatic style during their tenure as Chinese leaders. In particular, with the principle of “seeking truth from facts” and doing things that benefit the country and the people from reality, he deserves the affirmation and praise of the Chinese people. The well-known Chinese folk saying, “If you want food, look for Ziyang,” is one of them. When he was the leader of Sichuan Province, he supported the vindication of tens of thousands of Tibetans who were wronged by the “new rebellion”, and supported the overthrow of the wrong theory that “the essence of the ethnic issue is a class issue”. To do so requires not only a keen insight into reality , but also requires great moral courage and responsibility. It can be said that together with Hu Yaobang, he created a new atmosphere of reconciliation between Han and Tibet in the early 1980s.

In his later years, Zhao Ziyang had more time to think and reflect while under house arrest. He gained a new understanding and understanding of himself and the Chinese revolutionary cause he was involved in, as well as the meaning of human nature and life. He told me through relatives and friends, asking me to pray for him. I am delighted to have such a bond with Zhao Ziyang. I regard Zhao Ziyang as my elder brother, just as I have always believed that Han Chinese are brothers and sisters of Tibetans.

(This article only represents the author’s personal views and positions, please indicate the source for reprinting, thank you)