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Ambassador Houlan Meets with Nepalese Ministers to Discuss Tibetan Protests

China has once again asked Nepal to restrict the ‘Free- Tibet’ movement. Beijing is promulgating a strong “One-China” policy and insists that Tibet and Taiwan are integral parts of its territory. China is Nepal’s Northern neighbour and Tibet shares border with Nepal along its northern side.

The newly appointed Chinese Ambassador to Kathmandu, Yang Houlan, called on Nepal’s Home Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara on 21st June 2011 – the same day on which he presented his letters of credence to President Yadav. The Ambassador extended the cordial greetings of President Hu, but also renewed the request of the Chinese government that Nepal should dissuade the ‘Free Tibet’ movement from protesting against China on Nepali soil.

In a meeting with Ambassador Yang, Nepal’s Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal said that China is “a trustworthy friend for Nepal and she has never interfered in our internal affairs”. Similarly, the PM reaffirmed Nepal’s longstanding commitment to the One-China Policy and stressed that Tibet and Taiwan are integral parts of China.

During the meeting with Home Minister Mahara, Yang expressed concern over the possibility that Free Tibet activities are likely to take place during the yearly commemoration of the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party on 1st  July 2011.

The Chinese Ambassador, who assumed his Kathmandu office on 18th June 2011, also expressed his hope that Nepal would be more serious in preventing protests against China by Tibetan refugees. In response, the Home Minister assured the envoy that the ministry would play the necessary role in discouraging and preventing protests against China from any groups in Nepal.

Nepal is also under pressure from the US to accommodate and aid Tibetan refugees in Nepal. In the first week of June 2011, the US Deputy Under-Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration, Kelly Clements, asked Nepal to begin registering children of Tibetan refugees born after 1990. She raised the issue of the UN-brokered ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ on Tibetan refugees. The 1989 agreement with the UN and Western countries allows Tibetan refugees a free passage through Nepal to Dharamshala in India, where the Dalai Lama is based. The United States and other Western countries have repeatedly called on Nepal to honour its commitments to Tibetans fleeing their homeland.

In mid-June, Nepali local media reported that Nepali Police had arrested at least one dozen Tibetan exiles in a suburb of the capital, Kathmandu, who were gathered to participate in a religious event. Nepal is home to around 20,000 Tibetan refugees who sometimes take to the streets demanding independence for Tibet.

The Nepali government has restricted all protests which could harm the country’s friendly relationship with neighbouring China despite criticism from international rights groups and the UN on the Nepali police’s use of excessive force to stop the agitation.

About Anil Giri

Writes for The Kathmandu Post, the leading English newspaper in Nepal. Earlier, he was stationed in New Delhi as a Chief of Bureau for The Himalayan Times. He has worked for AHN, the US based new agency, The Guardian, Korea Times and others.

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