Date of this Version
March 9, 2009 in The China Beat http://www.thechinabeat.org/
It is a common assumption that Chinese intellectuals, however critical of their government, its institutions, and its policies, are unreceptive to calls for greater self-government, much less independence, in China’s autonomous regions, most notably Tibet and Xinjiang. It is therefore worth taking note of Wang Lixiong’s book on Xinjiang, published in 2007 in Taiwan, the title of which can be rendered as My Far West, Your East Turkistan.
Wang Lixiong is no newcomer to the question, having devoted the past two decades to researching and reflecting on the place of “ethnic minorities” in China’s political system, in particular in view of its possible democratization. Born in 1953, Wang took part in the Democracy Wall movement in 1978 and, in the aftermath of 1989, published the “political fantasy” novel Huang Huo (Yellow Peril or Yellow Disaster) under the name Baomi (1991; an English translation was published asChina Tidal Wave, translated by Matthew Dillon, Hawaii UP, 2007). In the 1990s, he began researching and writing a book-length study of Tibet, published in 1998 under the title Sky Burial: The Fate of Tibet (Tianzang: Xizang de mingyun), and resigned from the Writers’ Association in 2001. In a follow-up to the book, he met the Dalai Lama (in the United States) for a series of talks, published in 2002 under the title Dialogue with the Dalai Lama (Yu Dalai Lama duihua).