After India, China to send special envoy to Nepal

February 22nd, 2009 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Feb 22 (IANS) A week after Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon visited Nepal to assess the progress of the commitments pledged between India and Nepal, it is now the turn of the Himalayan republic’s northern neighbour China to send a special envoy to Kathmandu.
Liu Jieyi, China’s assistant foreign minister, will arrive in Kathmandu Feb 25 for a three-day visit during which he will meet Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav and leaders of the major political parties.

Earlier this month, Beijing sent a six-member delegation of the ruling Communist Party of China headed by its international department vice-minister Liu Hongcai on a four-day visit to Nepal.

Liu and his peers had met Prachanda, who reiterated Nepal’s support to the “One China” policy that regards Tibet to be an integral part of the communist republic and said Nepali security forces have been asked to prevent any possible protests by Tibetans next month.

As China nears the 50th year of its annexation of Tibet - which Beijing calls the “peaceful liberation” of the former Buddhist kingdom, Beijing is fearful of fresh protests by Tibetans in Kathmandu. Similar protests last year on the eve of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games raised fresh questions about its human rights record, especially in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

In January, for the first time, China sent a delegation to attend the convention of an ethnic Nepali party that was considered close to India.

Ai Ping, director-general of the First Bureau at the international department of the Communist Party of China, led a three-member delegation to Birgunj town on the India-Nepal border to attend the second general convention of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, the fourth largest party in Nepal.

From concerns about the Tibet issue, Beijing is now also growingly talking about the unrest in Nepal’s Terai plains along the India-Nepal border and said China would not remain a silent spectator if Nepal faces invasion.

Though inscrutable Beijing stopped short of naming the invading country, it is construed by Nepal to mean India.

India, however, says it is not perturbed by the growing Chinese interest and presence in Nepal.

“Nepal is a sovereign country and free to have friendly relations with any country it wants,” Menon said last week, at the end of a two-day visit to Nepal.

The Indian official also said India was focusing on its bilateral relations with Nepal, which exclude three-sided dialogues with China.

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