Dr. Melvyn Goldstein Examines the “Tibet Question”
April 15, 2009
While tensions over the “Tibet Question” (the political status of Tibet) are escalating every day, Dr. Melvyn Goldstein presented a balanced view of the conflict and a proposal for the future during a lecture given April 13 at Mount Union College.
Goldstein’s lecture, The Tibet Question in Historical and Contemporary Context, examined the historical basis of the conflict between the Dalai Lama and Beijing. He examined the recent manifestations of the Tibet conflict over the past three decades and provided an assessment of the likelihood of a solution.
Goldstein has conducted extensive fieldwork in Tibet (Tibet Autonomous Region of China) on a range of topics including nomadic pastoralism, modern Tibetan history, monasticism and rural socio-economic change. His experience and fieldwork in Tibet allowed for his findings to uncover unbiased historical and present day roots of the dilemma.
The Dalai Lama has gained broad international sympathy in his appeals for autonomy from China, yet the Chinese government maintains a hard-line position against it. However, Goldstein suggests that the while The Dalai Lama is uncovering issues of human rights in regard to China’s societal operation, the Dalia Lama is the real hardliner in the situation. China, in fact, is willing to talk and negotiate with the Dalai Lama. If the Dalai Lama wants to preserve Tibet as a homeland, he must move toward compromise.
Ultimately, Goldstein presented a plan for a reasoned compromise, identifying key aspects of the conflict and appealing to the United States to play an active diplomatic role.
Settlement is unlikely soon, however, “rural Tibet, where 82% of Tibetans live is still pure Tibetan,” said Goldstein. “The culture is not yet dying.
“The key to resolving the dispute is to create a compromise that will ensure the preservation of a Tibetan homeland where ethnic Tibetans predominate and Tibetan language and culture and religion flourish,” said Goldstein. “Such a compromise is possible if both sides agree to work to set aside past hatred and distrust.”