Indian Decade

Dalai Lama Takes to Twitter

The Dalai Lama is finding his voice on Twitter. How will Chinese policymakers feel about it?

Beijing looks like it’s facing another ‘security headache’—the Dalai Lama has turned into a Chinese language Tweeter. The Tibetan monk who the Chinese establishment loves to hate has been on Twitter to answer 10 questions at a time on his new Chinese language Twitter account at Twitter:@dalailamacn. And he doesn’t shy from answering sensitive political questions, batting on the front foot (to use a cricketing analogy) when it comes to China’s soft underbelly—Tibet.

So far, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, which is in charge of internal security, has not apparently swung into action to attempt to block the Dalai Lama’s Tweets. One reason might be the infrequency of the updates—he has had just two Tweeting sessions so far, on May 21 and July 19.

The Chinese know very well that the West-backed Dalai Lamais hugely popular around the world (although his Twitter account posts a respectable but not remarkable 5,340 followers). And, it seems, he hasn’t so far been inundated with questions. For his last Tweeting session (July 19) he received just 326 questions.

Chinese policymakers must be keeping their fingers crossed that the Dalai Lama doesn’t dramatically increase the frequency of his tweeting sessions, something that could well boost his follower numbers. At the moment, Internet access in Tibet is free. Let’s see how long that stays true if the Dalai Lama keeps Tweeting about greater autonomy for Tibet.