Apr 09 2014

Can Tibet Effectively Wield its ‘Soft Power’ Over China?

The Tibet Autonomous Region drew record numbers of tourists in the first quarter of this year, even as Tibetan officials are drawing up laws to preserve and strengthen their language and culture.

The international community, particularly the US, has long held a soft spot for Tibet, and there is little if any debate over the injustice of China’s occupation there. Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, commands an impressive following worldwide. The 78 year old has urged China to adopt what he calls the “Middle Way,” to preserve Tibetan atonomy without directly eradicating Chinese power.

But China has time and again, outright rejected that approach, seeing it as cover for independence. Eventually though, something must be done. My guest suggests that the “soft power” that Tibet wields over China in terms of capturing the world’s imagination and sympathy is not going away soon. If China will ever rebuild its reputation on Tibet it has to compromise. Joining us to explore the possibilities of such a compromise is

GUEST: Lezlee Brown Halper, research fellow at Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University in England and a South Asia expert with extensive experience in Tibet and China, and author with Stefan Halper of Tibet: An Unfinished Story

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Can Tibet Effectively Wield its ‘Soft Power’ Over China?”

  1. Jon 10 Apr 2014 at 6:47 am

    “…even as Tibetan officials are drawing up laws to preserve and strengthen their language and culture.”

    Please don’t call them Tibetan officials- people like Losang Jamcan are figureheads put in positions with little real power as a facade to cover the Party leadership in Tibet, which is always headed by Chinese cadres, and which takes orders from the almost entirely Chinese leadership in Beijing. “Tibetan officials” don’t wield real power, and they don’t draw up laws- they accept them from the relevant Party organs.

  2. Jon 10 Apr 2014 at 6:49 am

    Oh, and if you meant “Tibetan” as in “officials in Tibet,” please don’t conflate the two. Tibet and the Tibet Autonomous Region are two very different things, and thus if we don’t see officials in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan also drawing up laws to supposedly strengthen and preserve Tibetan language and culture, we can’t say that “Tibetan officials” are doing this.

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