China's Tibet?: Autonomy or Assimilation

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This groundbreaking book explores China's efforts to assimilate Tibet, in the process rewriting Tibetan history to conform to Beijing's goals. Warren Smith provides the historical context for understanding the current situation through an overview of China's actual—as opposed to its promised—policies toward Tibet over time. His clear-eyed appraisal of Chinese policy convincingly shows that the PRC's ultimate intention is assimilation rather than autonomy. The author argues that Beijing fears that any genuine autonomy or dialogue with the Dalai Lama will fuel renewed nationalism in "China's Tibet," as the Chinese leadership calls its possession. The book highlights China's past and current propaganda on Tibet to demonstrate China's sensitivity and defensiveness regarding the legitimacy of its rule. It traces the history of Sino-Tibetan dialogue to show how China has tried to use it to defuse Tibetan exile and international criticism, while making no concessions in regard to Tibetan autonomy. In the absence of any solution, Smith advocates the promotion of Tibet's right to self-determination as the most viable strategy for sustaining international attention and maintaining the most essential elements of Tibetan national identity. Smith's thoroughly informed work will be valuable not only to Tibet experts and students, but also to the larger world of Tibet activists, sympathizers, and others attempting to understand China's policies.

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Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal Asia
Admirable because it lays out in jargon-free language the political and cultural nature of the China-Tibet relationship. It is further admirable because Warren Smith, who writes for the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia, is scrupulously fair, including in his pages complete policy statements from Beijing and the Dalai Lama's exile government.
— July 2008
Tricycle Magazine
Anyone who is a Tibet activist, a serious student of Tibetan Buddhism, or a history buff will find Smith's book indispensable. . . . What is truly fresh and original in China's Tibet?—and reveals Smith at his most penetrating and disturbing—is his analysis of China's greatest propaganda successes. . . . The tug of war between recorded fact and historical revisionism, autonomy and assimilation, Tibetan Buddhist culture and Chinese real estate, will continue while the rest of the world looks on from the sidelines. In the meantime, we should be very grateful that Warren Smith has kept a superb scorecard for us.
Far Eastern Economic Review
In seven fluid chapters, the book covers recent Tibetan history, with an emphasis on Chinese propaganda and how Chinese leaders have viewed Tibet. . . . China’s Tibet? is essential for understanding how the Sino-Tibetan relationship became what it is today. . . . His clear-eyed analysis makes a very convincing case.
Library Journal

With Tibet in the headlines, libraries should be sure to keep an eye on the latest books on the struggles there. Both of these authors are well established in Tibetan studies as scholars and observers, and both take strong stands here against China's rhetoric and actions in Tibet. Smith (Tibetan service, Radio Free Asia) provides a thorough and specialized study of relations between the two entities over the last century. He argues that assimilation is China's goal for Tibet: Tibet is becoming more Chinese and less Tibetan, as demonstrated by the recent mass immigration of Chinese into Tibet and China's dominance of both the government and the economy. With as many as 80 footnotes per chapter, Smith's substantial, and rather pricey, book is an option for research libraries but heavy going for general readers.Thurman (Buddhist studies, Columbia Univ.; Inner Revolution), the American Buddhist monk ordained by the Dalai Lama over 40 years ago, reaches out to a broader audience. He covers some of the same ground more concisely and accessibly, delves more deeply into the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism, and adds some hopeful suggestions for finding a "middle way" in which the Dalai Lama's "ethical and spiritual revolution" can be accommodated along with China's determination to modernize Tibet, adjustments that would improve China's sagging stature in the international arena. Thurman also points out Tibet's pivotal environmental position in Asia and suggests that preserving its natural features would improve those of China because several of China's watercourses begin in Tibet. Thus, Thurman posits Tibet as both a spiritual and a natural reserve. Thurman's book is an excellent choicefor most public libraries.
—Harold M. Otness

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742539891
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 354
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Warren W. Smith, Jr. is a research historian with Radio Free Asia, Tibetan Service, Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction Part 2 Chapter 1: Historical and Political Background Part 3 Chapter 2: Tibet under Chinese Communist Rule Part 4 Chapter 3: Democratic Reforms Part 5 Chapter 4: Cultural Revolution Part 6 Chapter 5: Autonomy or Assimilation Part 7 Chapter 6: Sino-Tibetan Dialogue Part 8 Chapter 7: The Issue of Tibet Part 9 Bibliography

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