China moves to pre-empt fresh Tibetan stir

February 15th, 2009 - 3:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Feb 15 (IANS) Remembering the anti-China protests by Tibetans that erupted in Nepal in the summer of 2008, Beijing has begun diplomatic and political moves to pre-empt the resurrection of the street protests this year.

A six-member delegation of the Communist Party of China headed by its international department vice-minister Liu Hongcai arrived here Saturday on a four-day visit to consolidate ties with the major political parties in Nepal.

The visitors met Nepal’s Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda Sunday to raise the issue of anti-China protests in Nepal by Tibetans.

Prachanda’s press advisor Om Sharma said the premier has reaffirmed Nepal’s pledge that it would not allow its soil to be used for activities against its friendly neighbours.

When the delegation expressed concern at the anti-China protests last year in the name of Tibetan refugees, the Maoist prime minister assured them that security agencies have been instructed to take pre-emptive measures.

Prachanda also told the Chinese delegation that his government upheld the One China policy that regards Tibet as an integral and inalienable part of the Chinese republic.

Last year, in an unprecedented happening, hundreds of Tibetans, including monks and nuns, began anti-China protests in Kathmandu in March, ostensibly to register their anger at the Olympic Committee approving of China’s bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics.

However, the protests, which included sit-ins and demonstrations in front of the Chinese Embassy and the UN office in Kathmandu valley, continued even after the Olympic Games had concluded.

They stopped only after a Maoist-led government came to power in August and ordered protesters found without valid residence permits to be sent back to the countries they had come from.

A furious Beijing, for which the demonstrations were an embarrassment raising fresh queries about its human rights record, said the protests were fomented by foreign powers who were using the open border between India and Nepal to sneak illegally into the Himalayan republic.

The Chinese delegation is also scheduled to attend a key meeting of the second biggest Nepali ruling party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML).

The eighth general convention of the UML kicks off in Butwal town Monday.

Last month, in a sign of its mounting interest in Nepal, Beijing sent representatives for the first time to attend the convention of the Terai party Madhesi Janadhikar Forum in Birgunj city in southern Nepal.

In the past, the Terai parties had been considered close to India and Indian parties. While China wooed the major parties, it had not sought to expand its area of influence along the Indian border.

However, now with the Terai parties emerging as a regional force, China is also seeking to establish close contact with them.

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