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China Faces a New Threat- A Tweeting Dalai Lama

The Chinese are facing a new threat to their national security—a tweeting Dalai Lama. His Holiness has started a direct dialogue with interested Chinese and Tibetan netizens with the help of Chinese writer Wang Lixiong, presently living in the US, who is the husband of the Tibetan dissident writer Woeser. His Tweets with the Chinese netizens are hosted on His Holiness’ new Chinese blog on Twitter: @dailalamacn.

2. The questions have to be submitted in advance. With the help of his advisers, His Holiness selects 10 questions and replies to them. He has had two sessions so far—on May 21 and again on July 19. It is learnt that for the session of July 19, he received 326 questions. He replied to 10 of them. Radio Free Asia, funded by the US State Department, has been disseminating the questions to which HIs Holiness replied with a summary of his answers.

3. Some of his significant replies are given below:

“The term ‘autonomy by Tibetans’ should refer to having Tibetans as the majority and other ethnic groups as the minority [of the Tibet Autonomous Region].If the situation were in reverse, then the word ‘autonomy’ would be meaningless.” He hopes to “build up a big family that enables Chinese and Tibetans to coexist in a friendly fashion over 1,000 years, as before.” He wants to see all ethnic groups in China “coexist amicably with each other on the principle of equality.” He rejected the concept of a so-called “Greater Tibet,” which was Beijing’s propaganda..“We never advocated ‘Greater Tibet.’ That is a label put on us by the Chinese Communist Party’s Department of the United Front.” “What we have been pursuing is that all Tibetans who use the same spoken and written language need equal rights to protect and develop their religious culture, as well as equal rights to economic development.” He is not the sole figure to embody the Tibetan spirit. He has been operating in semi-retirement over the last 10 years.All major political decisions have been made by a leadership group elected by Tibetan exiles.After his death, all policy would be managed in the same way. 4. His advisers have estimated that about 5000 persons have been following his Tweets, but less than 500 are submitting questions. The Chinese have not so far tried to block his Tweets. While the Chinese would not be unduly concerned over his Twittterlogue with the Han Chinese, they would be worried over his Twitterlogue with Tibtans. It remains to be seen how they deal with this problem. Internet access in Tibet is freer than it is in Xinjiang. The Chinese imposed severe restrictions on the use of the Internet in Xinjiang after they found out that the Munich-based World Uighur Congress was in touch with its followers in Xinjiang through the Internet.

5. Unrelated to this, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, which is responsible for internal security, has continued to keep up pressure on Nepalese leaders and officials to stop what it describes as the anti-China activities by the Tibetan exiles in Nepal, particularly those whom it suspects to be working for Radio Free Asia. Chen Zhimin, the Chinese Vice-Minister for Public Security, is to visit Kathmandu for talks with Nepalese officials on July 26.

( The writer, Mr B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

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