The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama
Melvyn C. Goldstein
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Tensions over the "Tibet Question"—the political status of Tibet—are escalating every day. The Dalai Lama has gained broad international sympathy in his appeals for autonomy from China, yet the Chinese government maintains a hard-line position against it. What is the history of the conflict? Can the two sides come to an acceptable compromise? In this thoughtful analysis, distinguished professor and longtime Tibet analyst Melvyn C. Goldstein presents a balanced and accessible view of the conflict and a proposal for the future.
Tibet's political fortunes have undergone numerous vicissitudes since the fifth Dalai Lama first ascended to political power in Tibet in 1642. In this century, a forty-year period of de facto independence following the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911 ended abruptly when the Chinese Communists forcibly incorporated Tibet into their new state and began the series of changes that destroyed much of Tibet's traditional social, cultural, and economic system. After the death of Mao in 1976, the rise to power of Deng Xiaoping quickly produced a change in attitude in Beijing and a major initiative to negotiate with the Dalai Lama to solve the conflict. This failed. With the death of Deng Xiaoping, the future of Tibet is more uncertain than ever, and Goldstein argues that the conflict could easily erupt into violence.
Drawing upon his deep knowledge of the Tibetan culture and people, Goldstein takes us through the history of Tibet, concentrating on the political and cultural negotiations over the status of Tibet from the turn of the century to the present. He describes the role of Tibet in Chinese politics, the feeble and conflicting responses of foreign governments, overtures and rebuffs on both sides, and the nationalistic emotions that are inextricably entwined in the political debate. Ultimately, he presents a plan for a reasoned compromise, identifying key aspects of the conflict and appealing to the United States to play an active diplomatic role. Clearly written and carefully argued, this book will become the definitive source for anyone seeking an understanding of the Tibet Question during this dangerous turning point in its turbulent history.
Tibetans could also travel abroad to visit their relatives. As this internal strategy emerged, Beijing also pursued its external strategy with the Dalai Lama. Informal discussions continued during the 1979-1981 period, including the following letter sent by the Dalai Lama to Deng Xiaoping on March 23, 1981: The three fact-finding delegations have been able to find out both the positive and negative aspects of the situation in Tibet. If the Tibetan people's identity is preserved and if they are
Congress-driven move to create a new U.S. foreign policy that would proactively seek settlement of the Tibet Question in a manner favorable to the Dalai Lama. From out of nowhere, therefore, the United States was again actively involved in the Tibet Question, albeit through Congress rather than the executive branch or the State Department. THE FIRST RIOT—OCTOBER 1, 1987 These activities of the Dalai Lama in the United States were widely known and eagerly followed in Lhasa.19 Tibetans regularly
senior officials in Tibet. At this time Beijing also made a decision that, in retrospect, was ill conceived. On the defensive internationally, the Chinese leadership apparently felt it was important to show the world that its liberal Tibetan religious policy was working, so it pushed ahead with the Great Prayer Festival. Wu Jinghua, the head of the TAR, announced that just as he had come to the Prayer Festival in Tibetan dress in the past, he would do so again this coming year to publicly show
Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama, however, refused to accept the boy found in Qinghai province, instructing the Panchen Lama's entourage in China to send him to Lhasa for a final examination that would include two other candidates. When the late Panchen's officials objected, insisting they were positive their boy was the true incarnation, the Tibetan government withheld its final recognition of the Qinghai boy as the new Panchen Lama. The Panchen Lama's officials in China meanwhile had also been
open-door policy for tourists and businesspeople, Beijing could not prevent explosives from entering its major points of entry in Eastern China. However, like the compromise option, this resort to force would be extremely difficult for the Dalai Lama to sanction given his strong feelings about nonviolence, but it may also be difficult for him to prevent.24 His own failure to force China to moderate its policies at a time when the character of Tibet is so obviously being altered could lead more