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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

A book review -- Tibet's Last Stand?

February 3, 2010

By Jeff Bowe
Tibet Truth
January 5, 2010

Tibet‘s Last Stand? The Tibetan Uprising of 2008 and China‘s Response
Author: Warren W.Smith Jr
299 pages
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Year: 2010

Despite heightened international awareness of the
situation inside Chinese occupied Tibet; the
injustice, human rights atrocities, censorship
and widespread erosion of Tibet’s culture,
through Beijing’s program of assimilation and
colonization, the Tibetan struggle for national
and cultural freedom, has been a somewhat
misunderstood subject. The political objectives
and nature of resistance waged by Tibetans, which
most dramatically erupted across Tibet during
2008, occasionally overlooked and sometimes misrepresented.

Yet, as revealed by Warren W. Smith Junior‘s
Tibet‘s Last Stand? The Tibetan Uprising of 2008
and China‘s Response, Tibetan national identity
(and the incontrovertible fact of Tibet’s right
to self-determination and independence) are
defining features in the Tibetan resistance to
Chinese oppression. With a masterful scholarship
he draws upon a range of factual and informed
sources (Tibetan, Chinese, human rights
organizations, government and media reports)
providing a remarkably detailed and moving
insight into the courageous and inspirational
actions of Tibetans who faced bullets, torture
and prison to challenge China’s illegal occupation.

Warren W. Smith Jr. deploys a formidable array of
evidence, and with superb understanding and
analysis, records the brutal consequences of the
Uprising which was visited upon Tibetans, through
China’s bloody response. He documents the
catalogue of terror and abuse which followed. A
monsoon of violence, censorship, racism, control
and propaganda, worthy of Nazi-Germany or
Stalinist Russia, designed to crush Tibetan
dissent, and secure preparations for the Beijing
Olympics. An event which, as richly demonstrated
by the author, permitted Beijing an opportunity
to reassert its bogus claims over Tibet,
manipulate international opinion through a range
of propaganda distortions, and enabled further
pressure to be exerted upon an Exiled Tibetan
Government, desperate to facilitate negotiations
with China. All of which is masterfully
scrutinized by the author who sheds an enquiring
and revealing light upon the tortuous and futile
attempt by the exiled Tibetan Administration to
appease Beijing in exchange for so-called meaningful autonomy.

What emerges throughout this book, apart from
Warren W. Smith Junior’s obvious credentials and
expertise as a pre-eminent authority, writer and
researcher of Tibetan political history and its
place in terms of international law, is the
unyielding spirit of freedom in Tibet, which
refuses to be crushed. The solid fact that,
notwithstanding China forcefully denying Tibetan
sovereignty, Tibet retains the right to
self-determination and is a distinct culture and
nation, albeit under occupation. Not surprising
therefore that he considers Tibet’s national and
cultural identity as constituting key territory
in current and future efforts to resist, what may
appear an inevitable decline into obscurity under communist Chinese domination.

The author has added another meritorious
achievement to his already formidable literary
output on Tibet, in examining the struggle for
Tibet’s national and cultural survival he has
composed a fascinating and thorough assessment.
The detail, political reasoning and depth of
knowledge prove compulsive reading and he is to
be congratulated for assembling such an extensive
account of the Tibetan National Uprising of 2008
and its political and human consequences. In
articulating and determining the key issue of
Tibetan nationalism, and exploring the nature and
objectives of Tibetan resistance, it is a unique
publication, informed and enriched by an author
with genuine understanding of the issues.
Featuring a wealth of meticulously researched
material it offers fresh information and a
scholarly perspective, to reveal what was a
remarkable demonstration of national and cultural
opposition to the oppression and injustice of Chinese rule.

By way of introduction the author refers to The
Battle of The Little Big Horn in which the US
Cavalry, lead by one Colonel Custer, was
surrounded and massacred by an alliance of Sioux
and Cheyenne Indians in 1876. An event which
marked the end of indigenous resistance to the
relentless expansion of ‘development’ westwards.
As the book notes, though sharing some features
the analogy with the Tibetan struggle for freedom
and nation is neither appropriate nor accurate.
Unlike the various groupings of Indians across
the United States, Tibetans though possessing
differing dialects share many features that
define a people; common language, religion,
culture, history, and a system of government.
Moreover unlike Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse,
Tibetans have an informed, educated and
politically motivated Diaspora to champion their
cause; promoting Tibetan freedom and opposing the
distortions and propaganda of China’s bogus
claims over Tibet. The author considers exiled
Tibetans may provide a true rendering of Tibet’s
history and maintain, against the disheartening
reality of Chinese occupation, Tibetan national identity.

While the subject matter and academic practice
demand realism and objectivity to permeate the
pages of this definitive account, the reader
departs the last page hoping for something more.
Perhaps it’s a romantic hope that a resistance,
beyond the tragic heroism of the Little Big Horn,
can occur within and beyond Tibet. That the
selfless courage and sacrifice which defined
Tibet’s National Uprising of 2008 is not a last
stand, but a defining and inspirational event
that will invest current and future Tibetan
generations with a determination to maintain the
fires of freedom and independence.

Tibet‘s Last Stand? The Tibetan Uprising of 2008
and China‘s Response is required reading for
anyone wishing to obtain an informed and factual
understanding of the Tibetan issue, the political
aspirations of the Tibetan people, or the rampant
nationalism which defines the Chinese regime, its
machinery of oppression and propaganda, and its
merciless occupation of Tibet. Thoroughly
captivating, it is a definitive reference from
the foremost writer on Tibetan political history.
A definitive reference, inspirational, at times
heartbreaking and always informed, it is written
in an accessible and lucid style. This
publication will appeal to anyone interested in
human rights, justice, and freedom for the people of Tibet.

Review Copyright: Tibet Truth 2010
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