New Museum Offers the Official Line on Tibet

A new museum in Beijing will offer the official view of Tibetan history – a source of much debate in the wake of unrest in the region. From the New York Times:

History is often interpreted to meet the political objectives of whichever government is doing the interpreting. The historical relationship between Tibet and China is replete with claims, disputes and caveats. But the ruling Communist Party does not hesitate to eliminate any uncertainty and use history as a political tool to validate its hold on Tibet.

Yet if the party’s unflinching line on Tibet’s historical status has effectively quashed any domestic dissenting views, it also has fueled Tibetan resentment. The authorities are now suppressing the largest outbreak of anti-Chinese unrest in Tibet in two decades, a violent uprising that many Tibetans trace, in part, to seething anger over cultural and religious repression.

…The Communist Party clearly wants to counter what it regards as international misperceptions about Tibet’s status and has focused on history as an important arena to argue its case. The government has established more than 50 research institutions dedicated to Tibet and, by extension, to supporting the Chinese version of Tibetan history.

In 2000, Zhao Qizheng, then the information minister for the State Council, or China’s cabinet, told scholars at a closed conference on Tibet that their research should be used to sway foreign opinion.

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