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Dalai Lama Tweets to China

July 25, 2010

Tibet's exiled leader chats with China’s netizen community.
Radio Free Asia (RFA)
July 23, 2010

HONG KONG -- After years of stalled negotiations
with Beijing, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader is
trying a new tack in reaching out to the Chinese
people: direct discussions with the country’s millions of netizens.

On Monday, the Dalai Lama took questions from
Chinese netizens on the microblogging service
Twitter—for the second time since holding a dialogue with Chinese users May 21.

Both events were moderated by Chinese writer Wang
Lixiong, temporarily based in the United States
and husband of the Tibetan dissident writer
Woeser. Monday's conversation was hosted on the
Noble laureate’s new Chinese blog on Twitter: @dailalamacn.

A total of 1,543 netizens submitted 326 questions
with a further 12,771 votes submitted online to
select a final 10 questions. The Dalai Lama’s
office was to respond with all his answers,
translated into Chinese, by Wednesday.

Now 75, the India-based Dalai Lama has already
addressed pressing questions over who will
succeed him after his death, amid fears that this
would either spark division among his followers
or slow the momentum of the Tibetan cause.

"Generally speaking, after my departure from the
world," he answered, "Tibetan exile
organizations, especially our educational system,
will continue to function and develop."

"Another important element is the continuation of
Buddhist studies. All Tibetan Buddhist sects
possess elite members who can become religious
leaders thanks to their hard work over the last two or three decades."

Cai Jia, the Dalai Lama’s personal aide for
Chinese-language events, said Tuesday that the
dialogue is helping Chinese netizens learn more about the Dalai Lama.

"I think it is important for Chinese netizens to
understand more of the Dalai Lama’s principles,
especially his thoughts on the Middle Path, a
mutually beneficial plan for the solution of the
Tibet issue in the future,” Cai said.

Since launching his Chinese language blog on July
6, Cai said, the Dalai Lama has seen his
followers grow to nearly 5,000. As of Wednesday,
this new exchange remained unblocked and
uncensored in China, unlike his previous exchange with Chinese netizens.

"The Dalai Lama’s answers can be spread through
his followers and through his followers’
followers, enabling many Chinese to further
comprehend his stance, views, and thoughts. It is
a very useful phenomenon,” he added.

Questioning autonomy

Among the questions the Dalai Lama has already
answered is an inquiry about "Tibetan autonomy," to which he responded Tuesday:

"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],” the Dalai Lama wrote in his reply.

"If the situation were in reverse, then the word
‘autonomy’ would be meaningless."

The Dalai Lama said 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,” and said 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 he said 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," he wrote.

"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.”

Succession issue

The Dalai Lama also addressed the concerns of
Chinese netizens on the matter of his succession,
saying he is not the sole figure to embody the
Tibetan spirit. He said that he has been
operating in semi-retirement over the last 10
years and that all major political decisions have
been made by a leadership group elected by Tibetan exiles.

After his death, he said, all policy would be
managed in the same way. The Dalai Lama also
responded to questions about the protection of the Tibetan cultural heritage.

China, whose heavy-handed rule in Tibet has drawn
sharp criticism from rights groups and Western
governments, has indicated it will take a hard
line on selecting a successor, with Qiangba
Puncog, Tibet's former governor, insisting in
March that final approval lies with Beijing.

Beijing-based writer Yu Jie said Tuesday that the
Dalai Lama’s online dialogue will be very helpful
in addressing false propaganda created to attack his image.

"The scale of the dialogue is not that big, just
several thousand [participants]. However, I
believe its influence and impact are getting bigger and bigger,” Yu said.

"One day it will defeat all distorted propaganda
on the Dalai Lama and truth in Tibet, which has
been overwhelmingly portrayed in the newspaper,
on the radio, on television, and via the Internet
controlled by the Chinese Communist Party."

Original reporting by Xin Yu for RFA’s Mandarin service.
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