07/07/2011, 00.00
NEPAL – CHINA – TIBET
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Beijing gives Kathmandu economic aid for anti-Tibetan repression

by Kalpit Parajuli
Beijing praises Nepali police crackdown against Dalai Lama supporters. For China’s new ambassador to Kathmandu, demonstrations by Tibetan activists do not count. China and India are competing for the economic control of South Asia.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Anti-Tibetan repression in Nepal is consolidating relations between Beijing and Kathmandu. Yesterday, China’s new ambassador to Nepal, Yang Houlan, told local media that the mountain nation would become China’s trade hub for South Asian markets. Economic relations are more important than Tibetans’ protests because the Tibet issue is “is not related to human rights or religious issues”. Instead, “We believe Nepal must clamp down on all anti-China activities on Nepali land,” he said.

Yesterday, which was the Dalai Lama’s birthday, Nepali police stopped all forms of celebration. In the capital, thousands of activists were forced to mark the event in private for fear of arrest.

Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, a Nepali diplomat and former Foreign Affairs minister under the monarchy, told AsiaNews, “China for years has been seeking support in South Asia” to undermine Indian hegemony. New Delhi has always been an ally of the Dalai Lama. Now, “India and China are competing and taking advantage of Nepal’s political instability to pursue their own economic interests.”

On 24 March, General Chen Bingde, head of the People's Liberation Army General Staff Department, visited Nepal. He signed a number of contracts worth about US$ 20 million to build a military base on the Tibetan border. Nepal shares a 1,414-kilometre border with Tibet.

Between 1990 and 2006, the royalist parliamentary government allowed Tibetan exiles to move freely in the country on the advice of India.

The Dalai Lama and members of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala (India) visited the country several times.

At present, more than 20,000 UN-registered Tibetan exiles live in the country.

However, following the abolition of the monarchy in 2006 and the rise of Maoist and Communist parties, Nepal has changed course, abandoning its traditional Indian ally in favour of closer relations with China.

In exchange for closing its borders with Tibet and cracking down on anti-Chinese protests, Beijing is providing Kathmandu with economic aid.
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