29 September, 2020

The Middle, Middle Path

His sympathies for Tibet intact, French nevertheless calls for a more realistic assessment

Jitender Gupta
The Middle, Middle Path
Tibet is a cause for Patrick French and that makes it all the more remarkable that this book is not part of what he describes as "the white noise of foreign sympathy". The book is based on French’s latest trip to Tibet and in preparing for that he deliberately avoided "the network of contacts used by foreign journalists and campaigners". He is not carried away either by the customary romantic picture of Tibet before the Chinese moved in as "a place of serenity where the enlightened choose to return after death and reincarnate themselves in human form for the good of all sentient beings". French admits that he did at one stage see Tibet in that light but this book shows he is far more realistic now. During his travels, French witnessed an example of violence among Tibetans, a knife-fight on a bus. He comments, "There was none of the lenient, cuddly pacifism that foreigners might expect from Tibetans."

Whilst French is no advocate of the Chinese cause, he does plead for a realistic assessment of their role in Tibet. After inspecting the files of the Tibetan government in...



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