Dalai Lama Tweets with Chinese Web Users (Updated)

AFP reports on the upcoming online chat between Chinese Twitterers and the Dalai Lama:

The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, will hold his first online chat with Chinese web users via Twitter on Friday, despite efforts by Beijing to silence him on the mainland.

The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner will hold an hour-long chat session to be broadcast on the Twitter account of Chinese writer Wang Lixiong, who has long been a critic of Beijing’s policies in Tibet.

Wang said in a blog entry that the Dalai Lama — reviled by Beijing as a separatist — will respond to about 250 questions submitted by more than 1,100 web users on the mainland, where information about the monk is restricted.

Nearly 12,000 people selected the 250 questions by online voting done on a Google Moderator site, which was blocked in China on Thursday, according to Xiao Qiang, who heads the US-based China Digital Times.

The Google Moderator page where questions are being submitted and voted on is here.

Update: This site is providing English translation of the dialogue posted so far.

AP reports on the now concluded dialogue:

The hourlong session with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader had been requested by Wang Lixiong, a Chinese writer and convert to Tibetan Buddhism who lives in Beijing. The two met for Friday’s online conversation in a hotel room in New York, where the Dalai Lama is visiting.

Through a Chinese interpreter, the Dalai Lama tweeted messages of criticism about the Chinese government’s policies in Tibet and words of welcome to Chinese citizens.

“The government made these tensions, not the people,” he said.

It wasn’t clear how many people inside China were reading his comments. Twitter is blocked in China, but the service has become popular with thousands of Chinese, especially activists, who find a way around controls. Wang’s Twitter feed, where the conversation was posted, had more than 8,000 followers as of Friday night.

See also “On a Wing and a Prayer, Dalai Lama Tweets to Chinese” from Fast Company:

Today the Dalai Lama will get to broadcast his thoughts to many thousands of Chinese, 140 characters at a time. He’s considered an undesirable to the authorities there, remember, and his team has had to resort to some holy hacking to get the message out.

Hearing from His Holiness the Dalai Lama (HHDL, or Tenzin Gyatso to his pals)–about, say, his anti-establishment stance on Tibetan autonomy–is tricky for mainland Chinese citizens, thanks to the strict national control over media and censorship of China’s Net ties to the outside world. The government even goes so far as blatantly slandering the Nobel Peace Prize winning humanitarian, and years of dialogue between officials and the Dalai Lama have gone nowhere.

But the Dalai Lama has found a fabulously geeky way to get his opinions broadcast on the mainland. He’s had a verified Twitter account in his name for quite some time, and several times a day it’s a vehicle for some of his thoughts, musings, observations about life, and news stories about where he’s been or who he’s spoken to–the latest tweet from earlier today is pretty representative: “Meeting so many people from all over the world and from every walk of life constantly reminds me of our basic sameness as human beings.”

And “Dalai Lama Uses Twitter to Circumvent Chinese Government” from mashable.com.


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