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What about Tibet?


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What about the history of Tibet?

The history of Tibet from the Beijing side is definitely biased, but those from the Dharamsala side also has enough reason to be biased, so where do you think I can get a (more or less) objectional view of the history of Tibet?

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Until the Tibetan issue becomes less sensitive, it would be difficult to obtain more objective view of recent Tibetan history. However, since ancient Tibetan history doesn't necessarily relates much with modern polictics, it might be easier to find more objectional material on it.

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Read as much as you can from both points of view, and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. It's always hard to find objective accounts of recent history, no matter what country.

If you're interested in Ancient Tibet or Tibetan Buddhism, I'd recommend reading 'Lady of the Lotus Born,' an account of a woman who was reported to be the first Tibetan ever to gain enlightenment. Although a lot of it is very purely Buddhist teachings, it's very informative about Tibetan society, culture and history at the time of Buddhism's arrival.

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The issue was discussed a little in this thread.

I recommend Sakya Tsering's book The Dragon in the Land of Snows. But like Tsunku said it is best to read from as many sources as possible. There are many biographies written by Tibetans now living in exile. One that is interesting is Chogyam Trungpa's Born in Tibet.

Another little known but interesting part of modern Tibetan history is the CIA supported Tibetan guerilla army. Sadly the Tibetans were simply used as pawns in the Cold War and ultimately were totally betrayed. It is quite a sad story like much of what happened in Tibet. Have a look at this website if you want to know more about it: THE SHADOW CIRCUS: THE CIA IN TIBET

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where do you think I can get a (more or less) objectional view of the history of Tibet?
it might be easier to find more objectional material on it.

Sorry to correct other people's English and I know you are not native speakers so it is easy to make mistakes, but I guess you mean objective not objectional. The meanings are very different.

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Sorry for taking this thread way off topic and for correcting other people's English.

To be honest I am not sure of the exact meaning of objectional, but I assume it means "something that somebody objects to". It is quite different from objective which means "factual, unbiased". I am quite sure the latter was what kulong meant.

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Sorry for taking this thread way off topic and for correcting other people's English.

To be honest I am not sure of the exact meaning of objectional' date=' but I assume it means "something that somebody objects to". It is quite different from objective which means "factual, unbiased". I am quite sure the latter was what kulong meant.[/quote']

I did mean to type objective. Heck, I don't even know what 'objectional' means myself :-) I was tired and I saw 'objectional' in pazu's post and must have made a typo.

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  • 3 months later...

Not to distract you folks from the fascinating topic of English vocabulary... but if I may speak about Tibet for a moment!

There is, without a doubt, a tremendous amount of propaganda coming out of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Indeed, in many ways I'd characterize the Tibetan propaganda as far more outrageous and misleading than Chinese propaganda.

Beijing propaganda typically focuses on two issues:

- the negative aspects of "old" Tibet, Tibetan society before Communist liberation. This focuses on the suffering of Tibetan Buddhist peasants who strongly believed that their impoverished lives in this world were a result of immoral acts in a prior life, and that their only hope of improvement in future lives is to accept their fate quietly.

This point is both accurate and interesting, but also fundamentally unfair, since it doesn't really address the political question of whether this is any reason for Beijing to assert direct control over Tibet.

- the second propaganda topic is the "happiness" of today's Tibet. While there's little doubt that some Tibetans are happy and satisfied with today's arrangement, the opposing voice (and perhaps more popular one) shared by many in Tibet is never voiced. The Dalai Lama is still a religious icon for most Tibetans, and Beijing is trying to white-wash his role.

In my opinion, these two key premises of Chinese propaganda weakens Beijing's position... but they are not true falsehoods. They are very true representations of propaganda: they twist, they obfuscate, they simplify the story, they exaggerate... but I don't believe Beijing manufactures the truth. Even the claim that "Tibet is an integral and inseparable part of China" is precisely that: a claim. Historical evidence can (selectively) be used to support the point, even if there is room for dispute.

But I say that the Tibetan government-in-exile's propaganda is "worse" because of its proven willingness (or at least other groups associated with the TGIE) to flat out *lie*, manufacture truths to prove their point. Undoubtedly, this is due to the fact that they have so little material power they feel a need to make a stronger point.

Common claims out of Dharamasala include that Tibetans are targets of a genocidal campaign within Beijing, or that Tibetan culture is intentionally being wiped out thanks to Beijing's political perogatives. In their version if history, the number allegedly "massacred" by Beijing is grossly exaggerated (most common number being 1.2 million), with the proper context never given. (30 million+ Han Chinese are believed to have died during the same time frame due to disasterous economic and political campaigns).

None of these are true. Beijing has a demonstrable policy of doing its best to preserve both the Tibetan people and Tibetan culture. The simple fact of the matter is finding success for minority populations has NEVER been easy: look at any society on this planet for easy confirmation (African-Americans within the United States?). But Beijing has undertaken many policies that are far more liberal than nations in the West. Tibetans receive generous affirmative action in schooling and work; Tibetan population has sky-rocketed in absolute terms as they are exempt from the one-child policy; the "value" of Tibetan culture is constantly trumpted on state events; Mao Zedong, even as far back as the 1950s, was a far more racially tolerant man than most appreciate. Mao's campaigns to end "Greater Han Chauvanism" has done much to erase Han-supremacist movements that dominated much of Chinese history.

Ok, enough of that. Let's talk about specific books. I agree that Shakya's book is a wonderful resource, although it is a rather dry academic read based mostly on exile documents and with an exile tone. Grunfeld's book "The Making of Modern Tibet" is another good choice, although it's been slammed by exiles for being too leftist.

My favorite, lighter reading is Tashi Tsering's "Struggle for Modern Tibet". Definitely pick this up if you get the chance... it's one man's story from inside Tibet, and a fascinating read. Tashi Tsering is a former peasant boy picked to serve the Dalai Lama as a performer... and he's experienced court life in "old Tibet". He left before the PLA arrived, and ended up living in India for a few years... including the 1959 uprising... before ending up going to school at the University of Washington.

Despite this Western experience, he *chose* to return to the People's Republic of China and Tibet out of a sense of patriotism (for Tibet, not necessarily China). He lived and trained with the first generation of teachers being prepared by China for the modernization of Tibet. However, before this could happen, he was caught up in the political movements of the '60s. He marched enthusastically in Tiananmen, cheering on Chairman Mao and enjoying his role in the Revolution. Before long, however, he also fell victim to the Cultural Revolution and served as a political prisoner for almost a decade.

After being freed, he resumed his career as a scholar in Tibet, eventually becoming a professor at Tibet University in Lhasa. Subsequently, he became a bit of an entrepreneur, earning lots of money through rug sales to set up various charity schools for rural Tibetan youth, so that they'd have the chance to learn that he never did.

This is a man who has *lived* the true story of being Tibetan. He grew up in Old Tibet, fought threw the difficult early decades of Tibet under PRC rule, and now lives and thrives within modern Tibet. I can't think of a better mechanism for understanding "the story", if not the history, of modern Tibet.

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