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China Telecom Now Providing Tibetan-Language Phones

A woman using a phone in the Tibetan language from China Telecom.

A woman in Xigaze using a phone in the Tibetan language.

Tibetans are finally getting some love from telecoms with a new phone that supports their language, according to a report last week from China Daily.

Since its release in June by China Telecom’s Tibetan branch, the new phone has sold approximately 700 units in the counties of Damxung and Maizhokunggar (near the capital Lhasa). Previously, the only way Tibetans were able to access their language on a phone was through an iOS application with limited functionality.

Many Tibetans have since praised the phone for granting them the ability to text and express themselves in their language. “It will encourage Tibetans to use their own language, and is a great contribution to Tibetan-language preservation,” China Daily quotes Sonam Dorji, a Tibetan monk in Qamdo.

According to regional figures, there are approximately 1.2 million Internet users in Tibet (the 2010 census reveals that Tibet’s population is around 3 million), and 90 percent of them access Internet through their cell phones.

As the cell phone market expands in China, adapting to local cultures will be an important element of the process, though this news comes as a bit of a surprise. Giving Tibetans access to their language is a nice gesture, though it is hard to imagine that more companies will jump on the notion of making phones for Tibet anytime soon, as language only strengthens identity. With the growing use of social media in China, espeically on Sina Weibo, this is a development that might cause a few stirs in Beijing.

Will new technology have a positive effect on Tibet?

Source: China Daily 

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