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The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama

Copyright Date: 1997
Edition: 1
Pages: 165
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  • Book Info
    The Snow Lion and the Dragon
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92325-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. [Map]
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. The Imperial Era
    (pp. 1-29)

    Political contact between Tibet and China began in the seventh century A.D. when Tibet became unified under the rule of King Songtsen Gampo. The dynasty he created lasted for two centuries and expanded Tibet’s borders to include, in the north, much of today’s Xinjiang province; in the west, parts of Ladakh/Kashmir; and in the east, Amdo and Kham—parts of today’s Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces. Because many of the eastern and northern territories that Tibet conquered were kingdoms subordinate to China’s Tang dynasty (618–907), the Chinese were well aware of the emergence of this powerful kingdom. Songtsen...

  6. Interlude: De Facto Independence
    (pp. 30-36)

    While the Chinese army of 1910 occupied Tibet, the thirteenth Dalai Lama lived in Darjeeling, India, contemplating the circumstances that had allowed Lhasa to be twice conquered within six years. During this time he developed a close friendship with Sir Charles Bell, the government of India’s political officer in Sikkim, and learned a great deal about modern politics, seeing firsthand how an efficient and dedicated bureaucracy and army could rule a vast country. The beginnings of a new vision of Tibet formed.

    The fall of the Qing dynasty was a stroke of good fortune that the thirteenth Dalai Lama immediately...

  7. Chinese Communist Rule: The Mao Era
    (pp. 37-60)

    Victory in World War II did not enable China to address the Tibet Question since full-blown civil war broke out between the government of Chiang Kaishek and the Chinese Communist party led by Mao Zedong. The Chinese Communists emerged victorious four years later, and on October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong inaugurated the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

    Settlement of the Tibetan Question at this time was no closer than it had been at the fall of the Qing dynasty. Tibet was still operating as a de facto independent polity in all ways, although it was militarily weak and internally disunified...

  8. The Post-Mao Era
    (pp. 61-99)

    The death of Mao Zedong in 1976, the subsequent fall of the “Gang of Four,” and the rise to power of Deng Xiaoping produced major changes in China that included a new cultural and economic ideology, normalization of relations with the United States, and new initiatives to reconcile two outstanding conflicts that concerned the unity of the People’s Republic of China—Taiwan and the Tibet Question.

    China made a number of unilateral gestures in Tibet in 1978, such as releasing a group of prisoners, announcing that Tibetans would be able to visit relatives abroad, and issuing visas to visit Tibet...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. The Future
    (pp. 100-132)

    What of the future? How is this conflict likely to play out as we move into the twenty-first century? Is there any common ground on which to construct a reconciliation between the Dalai Lama and China? Does the United States have a role to play?

    Beijing now has little interest in new discussions with the Dalai Lama because it believes he still is not serious about making the kind of compromise China can accept. The 1995 controversy over the selection of a new Panchen Lama in China , illustrates the enormous difficulty both sides have in compromising, as well as...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 133-142)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 143-146)
  13. Index
    (pp. 147-152)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 153-157)