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Not just India but Xi’s visit to Tibet should worry Nepal too

Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba

It is not just India that has taken note of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Nepal, with over 20,000 Tibetan refugees, too has reasons to be concerned.

“Like India, Nepal borders Tibet, and it is home to thousands of Tibetan refugees. Accordingly, the Tibetan question is a key issue in China-Nepal relations,” the Diplomat said.

The online news magazine further noted that following China’s crushing of the Tibetan uprising in 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled Tibet. While the majority went to India, a sizable number went to Nepal and Bhutan.

Though Nepal has maintained the One China policy and former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli made it clear that anti Chinese activities and interests would not be encouraged in Nepali soil, foreign policy experts said that the visit will create jitters for the new government.

Also read: Blinken meets Dalai Lama’s envoy in clear signal to Beijing on Tibet

Tibetan living in Nepal had also been barred from observing the Tibetan National Uprising Day on March 10.

The Diplomat added that the importance of the Tibetan refugee issues in Sino-Nepali relations was underscored during Xi’s visit to Nepal in October 2019. Though Chinese put pressure on Nepal to sign an extradition treaty which would have facilitated deportation of ‘trouble-making’ Tibetan refugees to China, the pact did not see the light of the day due to global pressure. “That angered Xi, who according to China’s state broadcaster reportedly told Oli in a meeting that those who tried to split China would face ‘crushed bodies and shattered bones,’” the news portal said.

Now all eyes are set on Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s moves. “He will not be able to anger the Chinese as there is an economic angle but with the fast changing geopolitical scenario, it will be interesting to see what decisions his government takes in relation to China,” an analyst told India Narrative.