China wants curbs on open India-Nepal border: report

June 29th, 2008 - 2:14 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, June 29 (IANS) Nepal’s giant northern neighbour China is concerned about India’s policy regarding the Himalayan nation and wants the open India-Nepal border to be controlled, a report said. India and Nepal share a 1,800-km long open border. Following a treaty of peace and friendship signed more than 50 years ago, both countries allow each other’s citizens to cross over the border without any visa.

Stung by the growing anti-China protests by Tibetan exiles in Nepal, Beijing is regarding the open border as a major factor that is fuelling the nearly three-month-long protests, Nepal magazine reported Sunday.

“Tibetans fleeing from China come to Nepal and then enter India via the open border,” the report said. “Then, if the need arises, they return to Nepal through that route. In this way, Tibetans who reside in India have been playing a major and determining role in the ongoing anti-China demonstrations in Kathmandu.

“Therefore, the most pressing need to stop the planned (anti-China) activities on Nepal’s soil is by regulating or controlling the open international border between India and Nepal so that suspicious Tibetan activities can be controlled.”

The report was written after a team of Nepali journalists this month went to China on a junket following an invitation by the Chinese government.

In March, as Tibetans worldwide remembered a failed uprising against China’s invasion of Tibet more then five decades ago, demonstrations sparked violence in Tibet, causing the death of several protesters.

Since then, Tibetan exiles in Nepal have kept up a steady flow of demonstrations in front of the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu and the UN office, demanding the restoration of human rights in Tibet, release of all political prisoners and an independent investigation into the firings that they say killed over 200 unarmed Tibetans.

As the protests in Nepal grew, China has stepped up its courting of Nepal, extending invitations to Maoist chief Prachanda, who is headed to be the next prime minister, and other ruling parties.

The report also quoted a Chinese think-tank member, who has been a frequent visitor to Nepal, as saying that China was aware of India’s wish to bring Nepal under its control.

Wang Hong-wei, a professor at the Beijing-based Institute of Asian-Pacific Studies and Beijing’s Nepal expert, was quoted as saying: “China knows very well that India wants to turn Nepal into a second Bhutan or Sikkim.

“It can try to Sikkimise Nepal. But China would not allow that. China would extend its utmost help to Nepal to keep its sovereignty, independence and integrity intact.”

Many Nepalis regard New Delhi with wariness, feeling that it could try to amalgam Nepal, as it did with the formerly independent kingdom of Sikkim, or could try to bring the smaller neighbour under its firm control, as they believe is the case with Bhutan.

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