China says no India card behind ties with Nepal

December 12th, 2008 - 7:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Dec 12 (IANS) China Friday denied speculations that Beijing was trying to cosy up to Nepal to counter the Indian presence in the Himalayan country, saying that relations between Nepal and both its neighbours should grow in a parallel manner.China’s new ambassador to Nepal Qiu Guohong, who was sent by Beijing recently to replace Zheng Xianglin, Friday held his first interaction with the media here, fielding questions on whether Beijing’s deepening ties with the Himalayan republic were at the expense of Nepal-India relations and if China had relaxed its policy on Tibetans.

“There is no India factor in China’s developing relations with Nepal,” the envoy said. “It is only based on the very good friendship between the peoples of the two countries and the wish for peace and stability in South Asia.

“China-Nepal and Nepal-India relations should go on in a parallel manner and not influence each other.”

Qiu said that China-India relations had grown “very fast” in recent years. They had no conflict in South Asia and were currently holding joint exercises in India’s Karnataka state to battle terrorism.

Qiu, the former deputy director-general at Asia department of China’s foreign ministry said that Nepal’s deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam’s statement that Beijing should be involved in resolving the border dispute between India and Nepal over Kalapani, a stretch of land in farwest Nepal where the boundaries of all three countries merged, was probably intended to indicate political support.

“Boundary debates are very complicated,” he said. “We need time and patience to resolve them… China will support the efforts of the Nepal government in safeguarding its territorial integrity and sovereignty following the principles of non-interference.”

Qiu said that his government, that this month signed an agreement to provide non lethal military equipment to the Nepal Army, did not have any plan to supply weapons.

The greater security cooperation Beijing wants with Kathmandu, he indicated, involves sharing of information and enhancing border security, all of which points towards Beijing’s desire to crack down on movements by Tibetan dissenters across the Nepal-Tibet border.

Beijing is also ready to provide positive support to Nepal’s peace process in the form of assistance in drafting the new constitution and the integration of the Maoists’ guerrilla army with the state army. Qiu, however, said that the assistance would be decided on the basis of what Nepal’s government wanted.

However, China has not relented on the issue of 5,000 Tibetan refugees who had been offered a new home by the US, an offer that was rejected by Nepal due to Beijing’s pressure.

“The Chinese government’s policy on Tibet remains consistent,” Qiu said. “We are firmly opposed to any country or forces seeking to be involved or intervene in Tibet issues.”

China, which had tacitly supported former king Gyanendra’s army-backed coup in 2005, calling the ensuing upheaval an internal matter of Nepal, made it clear that it would not join the ranks of royal critics.

“Removing monarchy was the decision of the Nepal government and we respect the choice of the Nepali people,” Qiu said. “But one cannot deny the very important contribution made by the previous or late kings to foster relationships between Nepal and China.”

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