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22may20102Dharamshala: Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, spent one hour on Friday evening answering questions via Twitter from Chinese web users. This is the first online chat of its kind with Chinese citizens since the Dalai Lama joined twitter in February of this year. The chat was hosted by Wang Lixiong, a Chinese writer and critic, on his Twitter account.

Approximately 12,000 Chinese web users took the opportunity to vote on which of 250 questions should be put forward to His Holiness. The questions scoring the highest popularity were used during the question and answer session. Questions were voted for using Google Moderator, which was eventually blocked by Chinese authorities on Thursday.

Questions asked included topics such as what would happen after His Holiness' death and the issue of the Chinese-chosen Panchen Lama. His Holiness expressed concern about the possibility of the Chinese authorities choosing their own Dalai Lama to replace him after his death, which would pose a similar problem to that of the current situation of having two Panchen Lamas. The Dalai Lama also covered questions regarding the dialogues between the Chinese government and the Tibetan government-in-exile, which have proved fruitless so far. He stated that although he has no demands of them, the Chinese government insists on saying that there is no Tibet issue, just a Dalai Lama issue.

When discussing the Sino-Tibetan relationship, the Dalai Lama explained that their relationship stems back at least 1000 years and that this current period of strife is a result of the Chinese government and not its people. On the protection of the Sino-Tibetan relationship, His Holiness emphasised the importance of reducing the suspicion held by both sides and for all to be viewed as human beings.

His Holiness attributed the problem of the emerging gap between the ordinary Tibetan and the Han Chinese people living in Tibet to the lack of transparency of the Chinese government and for not implementing Deng Xiaoping's ‘seek the truth from the fact' in their policies.

Referring to the ‘Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People', web users expressed their concerns over the possible discrimination and expulsion of the Han Chinese should Tibet gain autonomy. His Holiness answered by explaining that there were Han Chinese living in Tibet before the 1950s and that they would still reside there in the future regardless of any changes in the autonomy of the Tibetan people. However the Dalai Lama also referred to the problem in inner Mongolia, where the Mongolians themselves have become a minority. He expressed fear that an increase in the population of Han Chinese people in Tibet would threaten the Tibetan language and culture.

His Holiness concluded that since the establishment of the communist government in China, dramatic changes in governance have taken place from Mao's era to Hu's era. In this sense, His Holiness believes that further changes in Chinese national policies will come, especially in regards to the Tibetan issue where a mutual resolution of benefit to both sides can be found.

A translated version of the question and answer session can be read in full at the following link http://docs.google.com/View?id=df2gh45v_15cjqqdcgb

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