Tackling Tibet

Ng Han Guan / AP

On guard: Paramilitary officers patrol Lhasa's iconic Potala Palace

Since 2002, a little-known academic ritual has taken place each year at Harvard University. Academics of every stripe, from historians to constitutional lawyers, gather to discuss Tibet's past, present and future. Uniquely, these intellectual debates have brought together Chinese and exiled Tibetan scholars. In the real world, the simplest facts about Tibet are so divisive that dialogue is impossible. Chinese speak of the 1950 peaceful liberation of the Chinese province of Tibet, and of its subsequent modernization; Tibetans speak of the invasion of an independent nation, and the suppression of its religious and cultural traditions. The polite rules established...

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