On DN [Democracy Now] last week, Robert Barnett, the director of the Modern Tibetan Studies Program at ColumbiaUniversity and the author of Lhasa: Streets with Memories sounded upbeat.
This past week, in the face of official Chinese government opposition, President Barak Obama met behind closed doors with the Dalai Lama of Tibet. This week's saber rattling by China over the Dalai Lama's visit had been preceded earlier this February by a confrontation over Congress' interested in selling Taiwan some major new weaponry. [China had immediately threatened sanctions.]
Barnett, who has written the introduction to a new book of essays called The Struggle for Tibet, stated, "I think there's actually a bigger question behind this [weeks visit of the Dalai Lama to the White House and the ongoing superpower stress between China and America]."
Barnett also noted optimistically, "I think many people, people who support the Tibetan issue or the Dalai Lama--I think they have a certain kind of--really a kind of popular political intelligence that the Tibet issue is really very easy to solve for the Chinese. It has this very compromising leader, this very concessional leader. They could solve it quite quickly. And that's very rare in the world today. We can't solve issues like Chechnya or Darfur or Palestine easily. And there is a certain genuine sense, for the Americans, trying to encourage the Chinese to resolve this issue before it's too late, before the Dalai Lama dies."
Later, Barnett summarized a slow current change underway in China, i.e. since the region-wide riots in Tibet two years ago.