During his six years of service in China for the McClatchy newspapers, Johnson studied the Tibet issue at the human level. He traveled to the Tibetan areas of China (which extend far beyond the Tibet Autonomous Region), to the seat of the Tibetan exile government in India, and to the headquarters of Tibetan organizations overseas. He interviewed the Dalai Lama; one of his possible successors, the Karmapa Lama; and other Tibetan figures in China and abroad. And he saw how strong the forces the Tibetan exile movement is up against are, not just because Beijing is committed to holding on to the strategic region but also because most members of China's ethnic Han majority lack sympathy for Tibetan complaints. Tibet is on lockdown. Foreign governments are less willing to support the overseas movement as China's influence grows, and Beijing's strategy to solve the Tibet problem with economic development, repression, and propaganda is failing.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.