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China changes Nepal ambassador after Tibet fiasco

November 24, 2008

November 23, 2008

Kathmandu, Nepal, Nov 23 (IANS) -- China has replaced its envoy to
Nepal, Zheng Xianglin, apparently over his failure to effectively
block anti-China protests here that lasted almost five months ahead
of the Olympics.

Zheng, who assumed office in April 2007, returned home early this month.

Though Zheng had urged the Nepal government to take strong punitive
measures against the Tibetan demonstrators so that they would be
deterred from rejoining the public protests, the government did not
comply, partly due to counter-pressure from the US that warned Nepal
that it had taken serious note of the use of force on unarmed protesters.

Zheng also failed to persuade the then Girija Prasad Koirala
government of Nepal to regulate the 1,800-km open border between
Nepal and its southern neighbour India so that the arrival of
Tibetans from India to take part in the anti-China protests could be stopped.

Though China, in an unprecedented manoeuvre, succeeded in blocking
expeditions to Mt Everest to prevent climbers from planting the
Tibetan flag atop the world's highest mountain, the stratagem
received negative publicity in Nepal's press.

Having completed only half of his three-year tenure, Zheng has been
replaced by Qiu Guohong, a former deputy director-general at the Asia
department of the Chinese foreign affairs ministry.

The appointment of the new ambassador coincides with the arrival in
Kathmandu of an eight-member Chinese military delegation headed by
Major-General I Huzeng, who too has urged Nepal's home and defence
ministries to regulate the India-Nepal border.

Qiu, who presented his credentials to the Nepal president Friday, has
already kicked up a controversy by meeting the home and defence
ministers even before presenting his credentials to the head of state.

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