Area Studies
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THE POTOMAC CONFERENCE, October 5 - 6, 1992

October 5, Afternoon Session I.

  Environmental Issues / Environmental Security
  Economic Development and Subsidies / 
  Impact of the Reform Policies in Tibet

James D. Seymour, Moderator

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The last speaker is not listed on your program, so he deserves somewhat 
better than the perfunctory introductions that I've been giving people.  
Chris Wu is Vice President of the Chinese Alliance for Democracy, and is, 
in his other life, an engineer with the Xerox Corporation.  He's going to 
give a Commentary.


The previous speakers have spoken in English, so I would like to speak 
in Chinese.

[now in Chinese]  As far as I know, several years ago the Dalai Lama put 
forward a proposal that Tibet should be a region which has no nuclear 
weapons, which is a very good idea.  In such a high place, there should 
be a few conditions for this, I think.  He suggested that there should 
not be any production, stockpiling, and experiments of various nuclear 
weapons in Tibet.  At that time, I felt that there must be some reasons 
for him to put forward such a proposal, though I did not know what the 
reasons were at that time.  I am glad that Mr. Tang Daxian mentioned 
this.  According to Mr. Tang's research, it is believable that the 
Chinese Communist army has made a lot of military and strategic 
preparations in Tibet.  In the future, I think, there will be a lot of 
pollution in Tibet, which will result from military abuse, not from 
commercial industry.  From the perspective of percentage of population, 
there are only 2 million people in Tibet, and Tibet has the lowest 
density of any region in China.  Tibet also is the most backward region 
compared with other regions in China; Tibet does not have its own 
industrial system.  Almost all the industrial products used in Tibet are 
made in the coastal areas and the interior cities [in China].  Therefore,  
Tibet itself has no  source of pollution resulting from commercial 
industry and the population is smaller.  Therefore, if there is pollution 
in Tibet, it must come of course from the military occupation.  

There are many causes for the slow economic development of Tibet:  
sparse population, geographically disadvantaged conditions, etc.  The Han 
Chinese cannot adapt themselves to the Tibetan circumstances, but Tibet 
is such an important strategic point that the Chinese Communist Party 
does not want to abandon it.  I believe that the reason the Chinese 
government does not want to forgo Tibet stems from strategic need because 
it is facing India and the Soviet Union.  In the past, Communist China 
needed this place to antagonize India and the Soviet Union, so the 
Communist Party chose a plan of Tibetan "development" - the strategy it 
adopts is not to develop this area, but only to feed the people.  
Therefore, the Chinese Government uses a lot of national subsidies to 
feed and support the armies' personnel and cadres in Tibet.  After Hu 
Yuobang's visit, I heard that the common Tibetan people also got a lot of 
subsistence allowances such as food allowance, and beef and mutton 
allowances after 1985.  The Chinese Government's purpose is not to 
develop Tibet and develop industry there, but to maintain the location 
for the use of military strategy.  From another perspective, the cost of 
creating industry there is very high, so it is not worth it to them.  In 
the three decades of Chinese occupation in Tibet, they build three 
highways.   Apart from transporting food from other parts of China, it 
only provides provisions for the military forces.  If a war breaks out, 
the military equipment could be transported through this road, so the 
Chinese Communist Party gives priority to national defense rather than 
for economic development in Tibet.  As a face, economic development in 
Tibet is the weakest link there.  Can it continue to go along like this?  
I don't believe so, in the long run.  Right now, we should point out this 
idea, but I think the Chinese Communist Party will not change this policy 
in the near future.  So after the overthrow of the one-party 
dictatorship, a new democratic government will discuss with the local 
people how to develop Tibet, and that will be the right time for people 
to discuss the economic development of Tibet.  Because right now, the 
Chinese Communist Party does not want to invest in Tibet apart from this 
strategic point of view.  

I myself also want to take this very rare opportunity to make another 
observation on Tibetan issues.  I was a student studying abroad from 
mainland China and I have been here for 12 years.  I am very interested 
in and concerned about the question of the Tibetan issues and the 
question of other minority nationalities in China.  So far, Tibetan 
issues have been a hot point in the world.  The Tibetan people have been 
subject to inhuman treatment, cruelly governed by the authoritarian 
Communist Party since 1950.  In Tibet, the people have no means of 
livelihood which led to a situation where all the people cannot survive.  
How many complaints are there, how many grievances?  Because they have 
compared the method of ruling of all the emperors of all the different 
dynasties and none has had the same cruelty.  Why does the Chinese 
Communist Party dominate Tibet like that?  Who has given them the right, 
the authority?  They will say "Get out of Tibet."  If I were a Tibetan, I 
would think along the same lines.  So, I sympathize very much.  I 
commiserate with the Tibetans very much.  This noon when I had my lunch, 
I talked with a Tibetan friend.  I said I can understand very well the 
feelings and emotions of the Tibetans.  But how are we going to resolve 
the problem?  I also want to listen to know whether the Tibetans could 
understand the Han, whether Tibetans want to know the ideas of the Han.  
I hope we can communicate with each other a lot at this conference.  Now 
I want to put forward several suggestions about Tibetan issues:

First, the Tibetans have their own right to self-determination.  Every 
nation has the right to choose their way of life.

Second, the Hans and the Tibetans should mutually respect each others' 
interests.  Of course, the Han is a big nationality, so the Chinese 
should especially pay attention to and respect the interests and the way 
of life of the Tibetan people.  Without this, this problem cannot be 

Third, the means of settling the question should be peaceful and 
reasonable and consultative.  Repression, suppression, violence, and 
massacres - these ways of behavior cannot resolve the Tibetan problem.

Based on these three principles and of the Chinese Alliance for 
Democracy, I am sure my colleagues there will agree with me, because 
these are the most proper ways of settling disputes as acknowledged by 
people all over the world.  When I discuss with my friends and I say 
"What should we do?  They want independence and you don't want them to be 
independent."  So there will be a war.  The result of the war is that the 
Tibetan people will suffer the most.  And we don't want to resort to 
these means, because this is running counter to the principles 
acknowledged by people all over the world.  So we have to sit down around 
the negotiating table and to respect the feelings and the interests of 
each other and make concessions in a give and take and then it will be 
easier to solve the question.

Take the case of Taiwan.  Taiwan also wants to claim independence, but 
the Communists will start a war.  The Communist Party says if Taiwan does 
not claim independence, everything can be discussed.  I don't believe 
everything the Communists say.  After we terminate the one-party 
dictatorship of the Communist Party and after we establish a new 
democratic government, then we can sit down and discuss all the minority 
issues, how to settle these problems and I am sure the Tibetan issue will 
be on the agenda.

Recently, I read an autobiography of the Dalai Lam.  I think it was very 
well written.  It told the story of his childhood and after he had fled 
from the Chinese.  There is a map that includes Qinghai and some parts of 
Szechuan.  If that is his idea of Tibet, then I am sure the territory 
there will occupy at least 1/6th of the total territory of China.  If 
this should be demarcated out as the "Republic of Tibet", I am sure that 
the Tibetan people would be glad.  But what would be the feelings of the 
Han people?  Would they be pleased?  And then the scholars would discuss 
endlessly saying, "Historically this piece of land belongs to me" and 
then they say, "no, it belongs to me," and then even if they argue from 
morning till night, no problem can be solved.  You see, we want to solve 
the problem, not to discuss only for the sake of arguing.  Therefore, 
mutual respect for the interests of each side and striving for peaceful 
coexistence is the goal. 

We have lived on the same piece of land for 5,000 years.  Arguments 
cannot solve the problems, right?  The period of arguing and fighting is 
very short, and the one-party dictatorship of the Communist Party is also 
very short:  40 years compared to 5,000 years - this is very short.  Can 
our generation seek a new way?  Can the democratic leaders abroad sit 
down and is it possible from here to start to seek a new point on which 
everyone can agree?  To bend over backwards to accommodate the interests 
of the other side?  Then it will be easier to solve the problem.

Even with a new democratic system, it would still be difficult to solve 
the questions.  You see, the establishment of a new regime doesn't solve 
everything.  The problem of feelings are difficult to settle.  If people 
cannot reconsider in terms of the their feelings, then it will be 
difficult.  Because I was educated under the Chinese Communist Party for 
many years, for several decades and I learned a lot of historical lessons 

When I was in San Francisco [at a 1992 meeting in a series on the 
possibility of federation], I even said to Jigme Ngapo that "I hope you 
can invite all of your friends and I will invite all of my friends" - and 
the two sides can have a discussion about the Tibetan issues.  Even if we 
shout at each other, this is better - we can never start a war.  Some of 
us here might one day become the leaders of China.  It is very possible, 
_so_, probably, we can start to solve the problem beginning from us, from 
our beginning here.  I know that the Tibetan people are suffering.  They 
are miserable.  I know.

I also know that what I have said is not commensurate with my status a 
as the commentator on the subject at hand.  But I just wanted to put out 
some of my personal views and the view of my organization for us to