1997年，我踏上了西藏之旅。那时，我一点也没有想到，这是不归之路。不归，并不是说后来我没有再回到我的家乡，而是从此，我的心，留在了西藏。首先，西藏吸引我的是自然风景，高高的大山，矮矮的绿草，排山倒海似的灰云，湍急的河流，数不完的温泉、热泉、冷泉…..我终于理解，为什么英國小說家詹姆斯·希爾頓（James Hilton ）在《消失的地平線》里，把西藏看做一种理想。
How I Came to Know Tibet
Today we have gathered to discuss the leadership transition in China
and its implications for Chinese, Tibetans and others. But my topic is
about my conceptulization of Tibet. First of all, let me make a brief
introduction about my ideas regarding this issue.
In a nutshell, I think the situation in Tibet will become worse after Xi Jinping comes to power.
First, from his personal history, Xi Jinping has always been a
bureaucrat to defend the interests of the authoritarians. Mr. Shao
Jiang, a Chinese intellectual from the United Kingdom who came to visit
not long ago, rightly pointed out that Xi participated in and executed
all crimes against humanity committed during the era of Jiang Zemin and
Hu Jintao. He directly persecuted members of the Democratic Party and
dissidents in Zhejiang, destroyed the civil and private economy therein
and, in Fujian, also was involved in corruption scandals.
Second, within the Communist Party they have developed a framework for
the Tibetan issue, from which innumerous interest groups are
continuously gaining enormous benefits. As a result, generally speaking,
anyone from this group coming to power will not change this framework.
Third, the princelings in power, including Xi Jinping, have entirely
accepted the Chinese Communist style of bigwig education, so they
advocate personal interests and violence, and they are obsessed with
power and social hierarchy. They are very greedy as well, so they do not
take the initiative to change. The only change comes from the efforts
of Tibetans, as well as the introspection of grassroots Chinese.
Now, I’ll talk about another issue, which is my main topic today – how I
have approached the issue of Tibet? In other words, how I came to know
As a child, I was told by my teacher that Tibet is a
very dark and backward place, where people lived in a savage serfdom
society. At that time, our textbooks said undeniably that in accordance
with the Marxist-Leninist social morphology human society can be
divided, from low to high, into five singlet development stages that
comprise, 1) primitive society, 2) slavery society, 3) feudal society,
4) capitalism society, and 5) a socialist society (communist society).
According to this logic, Tibet is currently in the stage between the
slave and feudal society stages, still much more backward than the stage
China is. Mao Zedong said: those who are backward should be "bullied",
so when the teacher said we had made the liberation of Tibet where those
who were former serfs now live a happy new life, smiles appeared on the
faces of all the students and all of us felt that we too had done our
own bit to facilitate the liberation.
One day, the teacher led
us to participate in a meeting to recall the past sufferings and think
about the present happiness, a kind of public activity very common in
the seventies in China when older people were invited to talk about the
"suffering" of the old society and the "happiness" of the new. The
Communist rule is a dividing line, before which is the old society and
after which is the new. A lecturer who came to speak to us on that day
emphasized that even more clearly. She was a serf from Tibet by the name
Basang, a woman. The banners at the meeting hall read: "Basang talks
about her family history," and so on. Basang recalled the vicious and
barbaric serf owners (lords) who had stripped human skin from their
serfs and took their bones. The story brought waves of crying across the
However, in the 1980's, a number of books on
Tibet appeared in China’s bookstores, all of which, of course, were
written by Han Chinese writers. They wrote down the unique natural
scenery and cultural landscape and invariably lamented that Tibet is
mysterious, because Tibet is beyond the limits of their thinking, and
stands beyond their experience, and it cannot be explained with the
ethics and philosophy of the Han. These authors, however, have one thing
in common, that is to explain the things and people with which and for
whom they do not really understand. Their explanation, as casual, comes
with the arrogance of the Han Chinese. Writers of this period include Ma
Lihua, Liao Dongfan etc.
So, I started looking for books on
Tibet written by foreigners, such as Travels in Tartary, Thibet and
China by Régis-Evariste Huc, A Paris lady’s Adventure to Lhasa by
Alexandra David-Néel, Scientific results of a journey in Central-Asia by
Sven Hedin and Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrier. From those
books, I saw the real characteristics of the Tibetans – kind and
respectful for life. They would not bear to kill even a small insect. In
Buddhism there is a doctrine that man should behave “like a passionate
mother" to all other beings; and this doctrine has become the norm of
the Tibetans’ day-to-day behavior.
Therefore, through reading,
Tibet gradually became my life's magnetic field -- no matter what I am
doing I’d think about Tibet. For example, even if I went to the street
to buy a pair of shoes or a piece of clothing, I’d wonder “Will this be
useful in Tibet?”
In 1997, I embarked on a trip to Tibet. At
that time, I never thought this would be a road of no return. This does
not mean that I never returned to my hometown ever since; it simply
means that I left my heart to the land of Tibet. First, Tibet attracts
me with its natural scenery -- high mountains, level stretches of green
grass, avalanche-like grey clouds, turbulent rivers, countless hot
springs and cold springs... I finally understood why James Hilton (James
Hilton), novelist of the United Kingdom, considered Tibet as an ideal
for his novel "Lost Horizon".
Although at that time I had been
to most parts of China, plus several neighboring countries --
specifically, from the border town of Heihe in Heilongjiang to
Vladivostok in Russia, from Dalian, Beijing, Shanghai, Putuo Mountain,
Xi'an, Kunming, Dali, Xishuangbanna, Ruili to Myanmar, but none can be
compared with Tibet. Tibet's natural scenery is extremely unique.
The cultural landscape is more unique: architecture, language,
religion, clothing, music, even necklaces, rings and bracelets on the
Barkhor street are different from those of China. It is a secular and
independent beauty. I bought one after another. Meanwhile, I began to
write about Tibet. In fact, I had published some fiction and prose, and
also published collections of poetry before I went to Tibet, but I
always felt that I had been too excessively stuck to writing skills, so
the writings themselves were in lack of fullness and profound
connotation. I knew that clearly, but I could not find a way for
When I write about Tibet, my heart is completely
open, no longer pursuing the form. My pen went in the wake of my
thought. Very soon, some of China's major magazines, such as "People's
Literature", "October", "Chinese Writers" began to publish my work.
Later, Tianjin Baihua Literature and Art Publishing House also published
a collection of my essays, entitled "Put aside the Veil of Mystery". My
work could be published in China at that time, just because then my
writing was confined between the surface of natural scenery and cultural
landscape of Tibet.
As a Han Chinese, it is not easy to see
Tibet's former prosperity and today’s disintegration. One must go
through the process of inertia, and there are two steps you need to
complete – first, overcoming CCP's brainwashing, and second, doing away
with of the thousands of years of Chinese imperial cultural binds.
Of course, I was not at all ignorant to the suffering of the Tibetans.
For example, I intuitively found that Chinese-style architectural that
sprung up day by day were frivolous and glaring, a sheer destruction of
Tibet's cultural landscape, while the Tibetan style old houses were
crumbling. At that time there was even a policy to encourage the
demolition of the old houses. I began to investigate, and found only in
the Barkhor Street area there had been more than 500 old buildings which
had immeasurable value for studying Tibetan culture, but at the late
1990’s when I worked in Lhasa, there were only 93 buildings left. Of
course, now none of them may have the luck to not be demolished. Some
Tibetans secretly told me that the Chinese authorities want to
completely destroy the foundation on which Tibetan culture is built.
When "Hong Kong returned to China”, I saw with my own eyes a Tibetan
was shouting slogans before the Jokhang Temple when two plainclothes
police dragged him away without any explanation to the Barkhor police
station. Later, I asked a monk friend what that person was shouting
about. "Independence for Tibet!" he said.
I have also seen,
during the Sagadawa Festival, crowds of policemen standing along the Lin
Kuo Road. I could not help asking “why Chinese authorities so closely
watch over the Tibetans? Didn’t they give the Tibetans a happy new life?
Didn’t they save Tibet and bring it from backwardness into an advanced
I wrote all these questions into my novel. An
important difference between other Chinese writers of the past and
myself is that I give due respect to those that I cannot explain. Mr.
Xiao Fuxing, a relatively well-known Chinese writer, once talked about
me and my work in particular. He said: "Zhu Rui, who previously lived in
the Northeast, now working for Tibet Literature, is quite different
from many modern writers. He does not have the impetuousness as the
others do. While even the Tibetan writers are running to the Mainland,
he has chosen to go to Tibet. All of his works are the reflection of
the cultural conflicts between Tibetans and Han Chinese.” When he said
this, he did not know that I am a woman.
When I worked for
the “Tibetan Literary”, I found some of my colleagues were the decedents
of the Tibetan nobilities who, according to the communist propaganda
were brutal and vicious serf owners (lords). However, when I approached
them, I found the altruistic spirit of Buddhism which had been a part of
their life. I saw with my own eyes how those "serfs", after being
“emancipated" for decades, went to visit those “serf owners”, how they
sang and danced together as if they were of one family. I was told that
Tibetan aristocratic families usually put in front of the doors jars of
water for the passers-by, some even put cans of tsampa. Of course, I'm
not saying all the aristocrats were kind, but kindness is a universal
At that time, on my daily commute between home and
office, I would pass by the Lalu manor, the residence of the 8th and
12th Dalai Lama's families. There was once a cluster of marshes, with
abundant water and lush plants. This is called the lungs of Lhasa,
playing the role of regulating air and temperature, so Lhasa is cool in
the summer and warm in the winter. However, in the late nineties of the
last century, every time I passed by, my face would be covered with a
layer of dust or sand. Since Communist China's occupation of Tibet, the
army let go the underground water, so plants could no longer grow, and
desertification worsens day by day.
I also saw the famous
hermitage of Dezong Hot Springs, which was rented by the son of Raidi on
a very cheap contract for forty years. Although the hotel accommodation
has little changed, the price of lodging has doubled, and the customers
are free to shoot protected animals. The famous Tibetan writer Woeser
depicts her trip in a short essay “A Travel to Kill”, in which she tells
how those people shot and killed the wild ducks.
I also saw
the prostitutes from Sichuan, who just grabbed the passing-by monks and
would not let them go, the barbaric demolition of the thousand-year old
ashram Drakyerpa Monastery, the ruins of Ganden Monastery, and the
Tibetans who secretly enshrine at home the photographs of the Dalai Lama
and the unquenchable butter lamps ...
Gradually, I saw the
essence of China's liberation of Tibet – it is to throw a nation into an
inextricable political and economic oppression. I also saw the
horrifying reality that a peaceful and picturesque Buddhist country
occupied by China is disappearing into history. So, I started writing a
historic novel “The Good Old Days of Lhasa”, in hope that people could
see the real Tibet before China’s occupation, which is rarely depicted
by other writers, because it had long been buried deep in China’s lies
and gunfire. At the same time, I also started in-depth interviews, on
the basis of which, I wrote the first piece of a series of articles on
Tibet issues and sent it to Woeser, and published in the online magazine
“Progressive Democracy" edited by Mr. Wang Lixiong. However, while I
was working on the second piece of the series, my family completed the
application for immigration to Canada, so I had to follow them to go
The year 2008 saw the outbreak of the popular uprising
in Tibet, Woeser reposted my article on the Tibet issue on her blog and
changed the title into “Why Tibetans Protest – my point of view of the
problems in Tibet". The article was reposted by a number of magazines.
Following this, I started writing the historical novel “The Good Old
Days of Lhasa” which I did not finish when I was in Tibet. At the same
time, I visited the settlements of Tibetans in-exile in India, and
published a number of political essays on Tibet.