His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that with the death of Wang Ruowang the Tibetan people have lost a sincere friend and the Chinese people have lost a freedom fighter, who envisioned a more liberal and democratic China. In a condolence message to Wang’s widow, Yang Zi, the Dalai Lama said he shared the tremendous loss she experienced and asked her to accept his condolence and prayers. The condolence message was read by Bhuchung Tsering, Director of International Campaign for Tibet, at a memorial meeting for Wang Ruowang held in New York on December 29, 2001.

Wang died in New York on December 19 after a brief illness. He was 83.

Wang was a Chinese writer and social critic who was one of three prominent intellectuals expelled from the Communist Party in 1987 as “bourgeois liberalizers.” He was a member of the councils of both the Shanghai Writers’ Association and the Chinese Writers’ Association. A People’s Daily report had this to say about Wang. “In January 1987, because since 1979 he had been preaching bourgeois liberalization and opposing the Four Cardinal Principles, he was expelled from the Party.” But the Chinese people and the international community recognized Wang as a foremost social critic who had the welfare of the Chinese people at heart. Wang had to suffer because of his conviction. As the Los Angeles Times said in its obituary, “A veteran of political persecution, Wang spent 20 years in Chinese jails, under both Kuomintang and Communist governments. Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek condemned him as a communist agitator in the 1930s. Mao Tse-tung denounced him as a rightist in the 1950s. Red Guards attacked his ideas as counter-revolutionary in the 1960s.”

Deng Xiaoping, too, personally denounced Wang Ruowang as “wildly presumptuous” and ordered his expulsion from the party.

The fact that Wang commanded the respect of the Chinese people was clearly visible at the memorial meeting which was attended by stalwarts such as noted journalist Liu Binyan, physicist Fang Lizhi, political scientist Yan Jiaqi as well as democracy activists like Harry Wu, Wei Jingsheng, Xiao Qiang, Wang Dan. In fact the memorial room was a virtual who’s who of Chinese democracy movement today.

Mr. Ngawang Phelgyal of the Office of Tibet attended the memorial meeting.

Wang deeply felt that the Tibetan people deserved the attention and support of the Chinese community. He had visited Tibet and also met His Holiness the Dalai Lama several times. Wang also contributed an essay supporting the right of the Tibetan people to determine their own destiny for the book, Tibet Through Dissident Chinese Eyes: Essays on Self-Determination edited by Cao Changching and James Seymour. When the Sino-Tibetan Study Group was formed some years back to encourage better interaction between Tibetans and Chinese, Wang joined as a founding member.The full text of His Holiness’ message read:Dear Mrs. Yang Zi, I am very sorry to learn about the passing away of your husband, Mr. Wang Ruowang. Please accept my condolence and prayers. We share the tremendous loss you experience. We have lost a sincere friend and the Chinese people have lost a freedom fighter, who envisioned a more liberal and democratic China. Although he is no longer with us we believe in the vision he had. I am hopeful about the future of China as well as of Tibet. China is in the process of changing ? changing for the better. Sooner or later freedom and democracy will inevitably come to China. When that happens, I am confident that the issue of Tibet can be resolved peacefully and with understanding.

With my prayers and good wishes, yours sincerely,

The Dalai Lama