01/04/2012, 00.00
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Beijing restores the Nepalese Consulate in Lhasa and demands more control over Tibetan exiles

by Kalpit Parajuli
The project involves the construction of three new government buildings built with Chinese money. The criticisms of Nepalese politicians who denounce the subjection of the country to Beijing.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - To help Kathmandu restore its diplomatic missions, Beijing is financing the construction of three new buildings in the Nepalese Consulate in Lhasa (Tibet). In the rest of the world Nepal's embassies are crumbling for lack of funds. The project was recently approved. The buildings will house the residence of the consul and his staff.

In 2009, China announced it would pay 180 thousand Euros for the Consulate of Nepal in the Tibetan capital. The new Memorandum of Understanding signed in November between Kathmandu and the Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region provides, in addition to restoration, even wider representation. To date, Nepal is the only country in the world allowed to have its own diplomatic office in Tibet.

The news has sparked controversy from Nepalese politicians who accuse Beijing of wanting to control relations between the two countries in its favour to increase its clampdown on Tibetan exiles in Nepal.

Lok Raj Baral, former ambassador of Nepal to India said: "The Maoist government should limit itself to applying for funding at home, it should not accept foreign funding for its diplomatic missions. How is it possible to defend national interests when working inside a building paid for with money from the host country? ".

Another diplomat, Bheki Bahadur Thapa, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that the Nepalese government is increasingly severe with the exiled Tibetans in Lhasa and a consulate in Beijing built with money poses a serious risk to their lives.

For years, Beijing has pressed Nepal to prevent any "anti-Chinese protests" and argues that there are no "Tibetan refugees", but only illegal immigrants. Recently, the Nepalese authorities have prevented even the Tibetan community from celebrating their anniversaries, or to express their national identity in any way and even intervened in religious commemorations of anti-Chinese protests. On July 6, police in Kathmandu "warned" Tibetans not to celebrate the birthday of the Dalai Lama.

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