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China swamps Nepal over Tibet

December 19, 2007

Submitted by Mudassir Rizwan on
Mon, 12/17/2007

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

Kathmandu : Anxious to retain Kathmandu's allegiance to its "One China
policy" that accepts Tibet as a part of China, Beijing has stepped up
its Tibet campaign in Nepal with a blitzkrieg of delegations and propaganda.

Less than a fortnight after Wang Jiarui, head of the international
department of the central committee of the Communist Party of China,
visited Nepal, a nine-member team led by Ong Chhing Chi, representative
of Hu municipality, reached Kathmandu, ostensibly to discuss economic
progress and Chinese cooperation.

Zheng Xinmiao, vice-minister at the Chinese cultural ministry, has
written to the foreign ministry of Nepal expressing his desire to visit
Nepal in March.

Last week, China put up an exhibition of photographs here with the aim
of indicating to the world, according to Chinese ambassador Zheng
Xianglin, "concrete proof of the socio-economic development that the
Tibet Autonomous Region has achieved in recent years".

In 1949, Chinese troops invaded the Buddhist kingdom of Tibet. Two years
later, it forced the smaller country to acknowledge Beijing's sovereignty.

Though the agreement recognised the Tibetan government's autonomy with
respect to its internal affairs, over the years Beijing has been trying
to impose its own language and culture on Tibet.

The 130 photographs in the Kathmandu exhibition strived to emphasise the
"progress" and modernization of Tibet since the 1940s when it was a
sovereign country.

"Tibet has achieved great success in economic and social development,"
China's official news agency Xinhua said. "The Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) growth rate of Tibet has reached more than 12 percent during last
seven years."

It also said that the income of peasants and shepherds has increased
13.5 percent, which "proves the development of prosperous and democratic
new Tibet compared with the old".

To underscore Tibet's apparent progress under Chinese rule, Beijing is
also organising a "China Tibetan Culture Forum" in Kathmandu Dec 19-20
with the aim of "introducing Tibetan culture to Nepal and the whole world".

In November, a Tibetan delegation came to Nepal to revive the direct bus
service between Lhasa and Kathmandu that died soon after its inception
in 2005 due to the Chinese reluctance to issue tourist visas, especially
to individual travellers.

Although the two countries signed a pact to revive the bus service from
Jan 1, it remains to be seen if the visa regime will ease.

China stepped up efforts to woo Nepal's new government after the fall of
King Gyanendra in 2006.

Although the communist government had supported the king and the
army-backed coup that helped him come to power, Beijing has now switched
its offer of friendship to the government of opposition parties.

China wants to ensure that Nepal doesn't allow the office of the Dalai
Lama's representative to reopen in Kathmandu and that Tibetans trying to
flee their homeland do not have an easy passage through Nepal.

There has been growing presence of troops in the high mountain passes on
the China-Nepal border, and pro-Tibet activists say refugees are being
pushed back clandestinely.

"It is no secret that armed Chinese security forces enter Nepal's
territory in pursuit of Tibetan refugees," said Mary Beth Markey,
executive director of International Campaign for Tibet who was in
Kathmandu recently.

"Also, several refugees who managed to cross over told us they had been
stopped in the past and sent back."
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