The Snow Lion and the Dragon

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Melvyn C. Goldstein has written over eighty articles on Tibet and is director of Case Western Reserve University’s center for Tibetan research. His book, THE SNOW LION AND THE DRAGON: CHINA, TIBET, AND THE DALAI LAMA, focuses on one of the most burning questions in modern human rights issues: should Tibet be a part of China, as the Chinese have long asserted, or should Tibet be an independent country, as the Tibetans have long claimed?

As is usually the case with politics, there is no cut and dry answer to this question. The only hope Tibet feels it has resides with the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual and now political leader who lives in exile. With the death of Deng Xiaoping in 1997 a window of opportunity has opened for the Dalai Lama to press for Tibet’s independence, but the questions he faces are how best to preserve a Tibet that is truly Tibetan, and not Chinese, and if they do not achieve full independence, how much of a compromise are they willing to accept?

Goldstein explains that the Tibet question is not about human rights issues, as is often assumed, but about the status of Tibet itself, either as an independently-governing country or as merely a part of China. Goldstein’s book is valuable, highly informative and detailed, but not for the beginning student of Chinese-Tibetan relations.