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Tibet (en anglais) (Anglais) Broché – 9 juin 2002
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Descriptions du produit
Présentation de l'éditeur
Quatrième de couverture
41 maps for navigating everything from mountains to monasteries
special sections on the Buddhist pantheon and Lhasa's Jokhang
hints on cutting through red tape : permits, visas and the Public Security Bureau
the lowdown on food and drink : learning to love yak-butter tea
detailed trekking information : how to reach your own Shangri-la
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For the most extensive discussions of religious sites (but DO NOT USE these routes and maps!), try to find the "Tibet Handbook" by Victor Chan (out of print). Also, Keith Dowman's "The Power Places of Central Tibet" provides excellent, traditional descriptions of Tibetan sacred sites.
The historical discussion of Liberation on pages 38-9 illustrates narrative problems which continue throughout the book. (The liberation section should be accessible on the amazon.com main web page for the Lonely Planet Tibet book.)
GENOCIDE: In the first paragraph of the section the author states that " `liberation' led to 1.2 million Tibetans deaths". This information first appeared in the early 1980s along with accusations of genocide. Although the 1.2 million has often been repeated on websites, in movies, print and even in the "prestigious" British War Museum in London, it has never been supported by credible evidence. No demographers, for example, have ever provided support in a peer reviewed journals. On the contrary, the census data on ethnic Tibetans in Tibet indicate an increase of 53.9% from 2.3 to 3.8 million between 1964 and 1982. This is a much higher rate of population growth and absolute numbers than the preceding 50 years. (Yan Hao, Asian Ethnicity, Volume 1, Number 1, March 2000; accessible at the Case Western University Website [...] ).
CHINESE INVASION: The second paragraph of the section perpetuates the notion that Chinese military encounter with the Lhasa Tibetan Government forces was "an onslaught." While a very popular belief in the West this is does not appear to be accurate and seems to unfairly demonize the Han Chinese . The only confrontation of forces occurred at Chamdo and saw fewer than 200 casualties on the Tibetan side before surrender. The PLA treated captured Tibetan forces well, took away their weapons, made sure they had food and clothing and gave all soldiers and their families money and sent them home. ( See for example Lee Feigon, Demystifying Tibet (Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, 1996), p. 144. ; Prof. A. Tom Grunfled, The Making of Modern Tibet (An East Gate Book, London, 1996), p108)
EL SALVADOR: The third paragraph contains the narrowly true but misleading story about El Salvador being the only country with courage enough to introduce a UN resolution condemning Chinese aggression against Tibet. The story is misleading because El Salvador had just completed its own very effective genocide--called La Matanza --against its Mayan citizens and was behaving as a dutiful puppet of the McCarthy era US government . La Matanza was so effective that the remaining Maya gave up their language dress and customs overnight. El Salvador was hardly a bastion of human rights courage. See the US Library of Congress Country Study on El Salvador at [...]) for a discussion of La Matanza.
SINO-TIBETAN NEGOTIATIONS: The representation of the Tibetan and Chinese negotiations in the fourth paragraph is very misleading. The narrative trots out the old lie about the Chinese preparing "forged seals" to sign the agreement. The Chinese made personal seals for each of the Tibetan negotiators and no personal coercion was applied based on the testimony of the negotiators themselves. See Goldstein`s recently published, A History of Modern Tibet (University of California Press, 2008) . Goldstein's recently published History of Modern Tibet Volume 2 (2008) which has the most complete and very well documented exposition of how the negotiations went and why on pages pp 106-7.
FOOD SHORTAGE AND INFLATION: The sixth paragraph perpetuates one of the biggest myths about the "occupation" of Tibet, namely how the Chinese troops caused a food shortage and massive inflation. Actually, there were more than ample supplies of food for many times the number of PLA soldiers in Lhasa. The food market was manipulated by Tibetan aristocrats and monasteries who were the large corporate landowners and holders of grain surplus. The intent was to cause tremendous hardship for commoner Tibetans and thereby build public sentiment against the Chinese who had promised improved conditions. . The de facto Tibetan regent/prime minister Lukhangwa engineered the fake shortages strategy and reaped great personal gain. He was eventually removed from office when the Dalai Lama assumed office as the head of state. Again, Goldstein (2008) cited above has the best exposition of this whole affairs; see Chapter 9, The Food Crisis.
Note also that the author of Lonely Planet Tibet inaccurately cites Goldstein's Volume 1 of the History of Modern Tibet in the margin of this Liberation section stating that it covers the period 1913 to 1959. Actually Volume 1 covers the period up to 1951 and doesn`t deal with the Liberation period. Goldstein's Volume 2 (not cited in Lonely Planet Tibet) covers the Liberation period. I doubt the Lonely Planet author read either book.
THE CIA: The final paragraph of the Liberation narrative makes passing mention that the revolts in the late 1950s had CIA covert assistance. The truth is that US covert operations began in the 1940s through to the 1970s including funding of the Tibetan Government in Exile. This is quite common knowledge discussed in many books but again Goldstein's works are the best place to start if you are interested. Keep in mind that this is the same CIA that was overthrowing the democratically elected governments of Guatemala and Iran at this time.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECPOMMENDATIONS: The above criticisms are important for two reasons as one is about to make a large expenditure of time and money on a trip to Tibet. Tibetan culture, history and society are among the most fascinating on the planet with many unique features. It is important to look beyond the polemical perspectives and misinformation that is contained in the narrative throughout this book so that you can begin to see the richness and complexities that are there. I consider Goldstein to be the best source of information in English I have found so far because his works are based on meticulously documented source materials and interviews with all the key players. He is fluent in Tibetan (and I believe Chinese also) and more importantly has been doing field research in Tibet and among Tibetans and Han Chinese since the early 1960s. His short book, The Snow Lion and the Dragon (1997), is probably the best introductory overview. The Case Western Reserve Center for Research on Tibet is a great source of on line materials, references and links: [...] Goldstein is the head of the Center.
Second, in the US (and Europe) we are flooded with misinformation about Tibet and China, as the above examples illustrate. The misinformation is highly emotional and appeals to our best instincts but comes from sources with their own (often hidden) agendas. The sources which I have cited here are valuable because I think they rise above self-serving controversy with quality scholarship and analysis. If you are going to step into this very controversial part of the world, you owe it to Tibetans, to Han Chinese and to yourself to become more informed. Another US military adventure will, as in Iraq, only benefit the Haliburtons and Lukhangwas of this world and hurt a lot of innocent people.
Based on my reading and traveling I have concluded that there are cogent and credible arguments for Tibetan independence as well as for Tibet's inclusion in a multi-ethnic/multi-national China. I prefer the China "option" because I think we need a more multi-polar world with more examples of multi-ethnic states. We all have to live together. The West should be seeking ways for constructive reconciliation rather than encouraging confrontation by formally supporting China and informally supporting Tibetan Independence.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: With respect to the practical information in the Lonely Planet Tibet, I plan to spend the next 2 and a half months traveling around Tibet and may submit another review later on the practical information later. It has been my experience that Lonely Planet guides provide good information on lodging and transportation and are generally good on food choices, shopping, entry tickets and hours of operation. Their maps are the best I have seen in guide books: practical, accurate and useable. The maps are the reason why I continue to use Lonely Planet. I have been to Tibetan areas of Gansu and Qinghai. I found the practical information contained in the Lonely Plant China book to be as useful as can be expected for places undergoing rapid change.
Unfortunately, the authors' love for everything Tibetan often leads to a strong bias against the ethnic Chinese. They apparently bought everything produced by the exile Tibetan propaganda and perpetuate long-debunked myths such as that the Chinese army killed 1.2 million Tibetans during the invasion. They tend to associate everything bad with the Chinese, like the "Chinese" habit of spitting, even though the Tibetans spit just as much as the Chinese do, and on several occasions I saw Tibetan pilgrims urinate in the middle of the busy Barkhor circuit, which I've never seen any Chinese do during my entire stay in China. They also lament that "the importance of Chinese is an unfortunate reality in Tibet", which makes me wonder if they ever lament the importance of English in India or Hong Kong. I believe Rough Guide China's Tibet chapter offers a much more balanced view of the Sino-Tibetan relationship.
These shortcomings are just minor annoyances, and I cannot emphasize enough how helpful this book was before, during, and after my recent trip to Tibet. The places I enjoyed most are the Potala, Nam-tso (wish I had stayed overnight), and Gyantse (the dzong fort and the Kumbum). One thing I regret the most is not going to the Mount Everest base camp. When planning the trip, I worried about mountain sickness and the long drives back and forth. It turned out the drive was not that long from Shigatse, the drive itself would be quite enjoyable, and I didn't suffer much from mountain sickness at all, but it was too late to change, which brings to another major caveat: ever since the 2008 riot, all foreigners are now required to submit detailed travel plans beforehand, and it was difficult and time-consuming to change once you're in Tibet. Most annoyingly, independent travel by foreigners is no longer permitted, and foreign visitors are required to be accompanied by a guide AT ALL TIMES! Although we did sneak out of the hotel in Lhasa a few times without the guide after seeing other foreigners stroll the streets unaccompanied, but it wasn't without trepidation and not relaxing at all.
Best places: Lhasa, Namtso, Mt. Everest, Mt. Kalish
Best time to go: anytime
Best book to take: LP Tibet