Dalai Lama says information technology can help broaden Chinese understanding of Tibet

The Dalai Lama has said that “information technology has far-reaching potential to help our Chinese brothers and sisters come to understand the Tibetan people better and appreciate our religion, culture and way of life.”

In a message to an international symposium on Ethnic Relations During the Information Age held in Trinity College, CT, from November 5 to 7, 2004, the Dalai Lama said, “The People’s Republic of China is making tremendous progress in both information technology and economic development. If these developments are to have a widespread positive impact on society and are to benefit everyone living within the People’s Republic it is essential to try to anticipate their potential effects and to create an appropriately receptive environment in which they may flourish.”

Terming the symposium “timely,” the Dalai Lama urged “people working in the field of information technology in China itself and wherever Chinese is read and spoken to devote time and space to revealing the reality of Tibet today, to understanding the Tibetan people’s just aspirations and to creating a better awareness of our situation.”

Over 50 participants, including Tibetans, Chinese, Mongolian, Uyghurs, Taiwanese, and Americans took part in the three-day symposium jointly held by the East Asia Study Center of Trinity College, Foundation for China in the 21st Century, and the International Campaign for Tibet. They discussed the role played by the information age, and specifically the internet, in determining the relations between Chinese, Tibetan and other peoples.

The three specific objectives of this were the promotion of cultural exchange, increasing mutual understanding, and building friendship. In addition to the US-based representatives of well-known Chinese-language web sites, the conference invited several Chinese internet experts as well as a Tibetan who hosts a website in Chinese. Tibetan participants from abroad include Mr. Tsewang Phuntso from the Office of Tibet in New York, Mr. Dawa Tsering from the Tibetan Department of Information & International Relations in Dharamsala, Mr. Rinchen Tashi and Mr. Bhuchung Tsering from the International Campaign for Tibet.

This series of conferences touching on ethnic relations have been held in October 2000, September 2001, and November 2002, respectively. These retreats were held in cooperation with academic organizations such as Harvard University and Tufts University.

Following is the full text of the Dalai Lama’s message.

Message
October 18, 2004

I extend my warm greetings to everyone attending the International Symposium for Youth Leaders of Various Ethnic Backgrounds from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Tibet, entitled Ethnic Relations during the Information Age.

The topic of the symposium is timely. The People’s Republic of China is making tremendous progress in both information technology and economic development. If these developments are to have a widespread positive impact on society and are to benefit everyone living within the People’s Republic it is essential to try to anticipate their potential effects and to create an appropriately receptive environment in which they may flourish.

As a Tibetan, I am aware that information technology has far-reaching potential to help our Chinese brothers and sisters come to understand the Tibetan people better and appreciate our religion, culture and way of life. I am grateful to all those who have made the effort to set up Chinese language web sites focussing on Tibet that can be accessed both from within the People’s Republic of China and outside it, but more needs to be done.

Therefore, I urge people working in the field of information technology in China itself and wherever Chinese is read and spoken to devote time and space to revealing the reality of Tibet today, to understanding the Tibetan people’s just aspirations and to creating a better awareness of our situation.

In the current information age, we have the means to improve and deepen inter-ethnic relations in the People’s Republic of China and elsewhere. I congratulate the organisers of this symposium for giving a lead to this public discussion.

The Dalai Lama

 

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