Jonathan Mirsky: Tibet’s Conundrum

In the Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Mirsky reviews China’s Tibet? by Warren W. Smith Jr.:

“China’s Tibet?” will depress those who believe that the Dalai Lama’s abandonment of Tibetan independence in exchange for a measure of internal autonomy will persuade Beijing to change its tack. Mr. Smith’s argues that “the legitimacy of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet is so sensitive for China that it cannot be flexible on any issue relevant to that legitimacy, including the nature of Tibetan autonomy within the Chinese state.”

This means Tibet’s inevitable assimilation into the Chinese nation on Beijing’s terms, under which Tibet would retain only those aspects of its traditional culture that Beijing allowed. Visitors to China’s “minority regions” today see what this means: singing, dancing, costumes and other colorful characteristics designed to persuade tourists that their culture and religion survive — but little real autonomy.

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