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March 28, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright March 28, 2008. Used by permission.


With the crisis in Tibet entering its third week, we continue to sweep the web in search of interesting and/or informative pieces to bring to the attention of our readers. This fifth installment in the series is heavily devoted to retrospective works, which go back in time, either to detail what took place in Tibet in the past or explore historical analogies useful for thinking through the contemporary situation. Still, since the story continues to unfold and take surprising turns, we also include links to pieces that track very recent developments, both on the ground and in the debate over issues of coverage:

1) The Far Eastern Economic Review does a great service by making available, free from its archives, the magazine’s reports on the 1959 Tibetan insurgency.

2) Foreign Policy has posted a thoughtful interview with Robert Barnett, author of the recent Lhasa: Streets with Memories and a leading American Tibet specialist based at Columbia University.

3) Ian Buruma, in “The Last of the Tibetans,” takes up the common theme of parallels between the treatment of Native Americans then and Chinese ethnic minorities now, but gives it some very interesting novel twists at.

4) The Economist, which continues to have the advantage over the other main Western media outlets of having had a reporter on the ground in Lhasa when the demonstrations and riots began, provides a valuable retrospective and update of things that just happened (like the disruption of a choreographed press conference by angry monks).

5) Richard Spencer, of the Daily Telegraph, offers an unusually wide-ranging and interesting discussion of the complexities to media “bias” concerning Tibet on his lively blog.

6) Parallels between recent events involving Tibet (and Iraq) and 1930s events involving Japan (and Manchuria) are explored by China’s Beat‘s Jeff Wasserstrom, in a commentarythat muses on what Hu Jintao and George W. Bush might have to say to one another in Beijing in August. Donald Lopez, one of the leading American specialists in Buddhism and author of Prisoners of Shangrila, also posted a recent piece called “How to Think about Tibet” at openDemocracy, asking us to ponder the historical analogy provided by Latvia.