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Twitter and the Estranged Spiritual Leader

Twitter and the Estranged Spiritual Leader

Twitter has recently become a platform for cross boundary politicking as the Dalai Lama reached out to Chinese followers to take questions and provide some solace on issues from Tibet to his succession.  The Dalai Lama held a one-hour question-and-answer session via Twitter. It was not done through his official Twitter account but facilitated by Chinese writer Wang Lixiong who ran the feed from a New York hotel room. The Dalai Lama’s responses were translated into Chinese by an interpreter and then tweeted on Lixiong’s Twitter account.

According to the AFP’s report, “Nearly 12,000 people selected the 250 questions by online voting done on a Google Moderator site, which was blocked in China on Thursday.” It’s not known how many Chinese people were able to follow the tweets as Twitter is a restricted site in China. There are an estimated 150,000 people in China who use Twitter, and access to the Dalai Lama’s responses were accessible via third-party Twitter applications so it’s very hard to gauge.

This blogger does not want to get too much into the political issues surrounding this case but more so wants to point out the amazing boundary that social media has succeeded in crossing. As much as the Chinese government attempts to blindfold its citizens, another way to see has been found. Kudos is given to Lixong and the Dalai Lama for their innovative efforts to use new technologies to reach out a hand directly to the Chinese people.

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