Monday, October 5, 2015

Nepali-Chini Bhai Bhai

Chinese soldiers in Nepal after the eathquake
Nepalese Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay asked India not to ‘push it to the wall’ by blocking petroleum and other essential supplies, otherwise the landlocked country would have to find alternatives: i.e. China …‘despite logistical difficulties’.
According to The Economic Times, Upadhyay asserted that, though India had assured Nepal that the present difficult situation will be resolved ‘at the earliest’: "They (India) should give a time frame. Does it mean hours, weeks or months?"
While one can only hope that the constitutional issues will soon be resolved to the satisfaction of all (and not only a section of the Nepalese population), China enjoys the situation.
According to Xinhua, on September 21, Beijing congratulated Kathmandu on the promulgation of its new constitution made public on the previous day.
During his daily press briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei stated: “We expect Nepal to use this as an opportunity, [for] achieving the nation's unity, stability and development.”
Hong added: “China attaches great importance to the China-Nepal ties, and is willing to continue the friendly cooperation between the two nations.”
Further, China is ready to provide “as much help as it can for the economic and social development of Nepal.”
In this atmosphere of Nepali-Chini bhai bhai, the relations between Nepal and Tibet are upbeat too.
On the day the new Constitution was promulgated in Nepal, Dadhiram Bhandari, Section Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in Lhasa.
He remembered that when first arrived in Lhasa in 2011, he thought that “Tibet was a marginalized and a primitive place, that was both barren and underdeveloped.”
Four years ago, his image of Tibet changed ‘within the blink of an eye’.
Bhandari was posted for four years in the Nepali Consulate in the Tibetan capital “every four months, I noticed significant changes,” he told Xinhua.
He recalled: “Development of Tibet is incredible. Despite the topographical harshness and climatic conditions, the Chinese government has made development a reality. We have so many things to learn from them."
Like most of the Nepali officials, Bhandari lavishly praises China for its role in Tibet: “Despite having a similar topography, Tibet has taken a heightened step in development whereas Nepal is still crawling, with political instability and minor issues.”
The Nepali official conveniently forgets that ‘stability’ was the main theme of the 50th Anniversary of the creation of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
Yu Zhengsheng and others senior Chinese leaders stressed again and again on ‘stability’.
Simply because Tibet is not stable!
The Nepalis are blind to this.
Bhandari told Xinhua that Nepal should learn the dedication of the Chinese government and its commitment towards the development of Tibet.
This is of course propaganda, but the fact remains that Nepal and Tibet (and China) are getting closer by the day, at a time when the relations between Kathmandu and Delhi are rather frosty (understatement!).
Naindra Prasad Upadhyay, Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies of Nepal, earlier posted as Consul General in Tibet, sings the same song than Bandari, "Tibet has done an impressive job with education and health development. Even in rural areas, we can find every facility. The living standard of people is high."
Upadhyay served in Tibet from 2007 to 2011; it was “a wonderful experience full of hospitality and cooperation,” he recalls.
Nepal is clearly enamoured of China: “Socio-economic development is taking place very rapidly in Tibet. The infrastructure development has provided a good opportunity for the people," believes the former Consul.
Nepal is eying at the tourists’ waves invading Tibet (17 million are expected in 2015).
Kathmandu calculates that it could greatly benefit if only 10 percent of Tibet's tourists could be diverted to Nepal.
Rajesh Kaji Shrestha, President of Nepal's Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in an interview with Xinhua affirms: "We need to develop a strong cooperation with Tibet, especially with the nearest city [like] Lhasa for trade and tourism."
He adds "Tibetans are curious to do trade with Nepal. We can import anything from there but we need to make an environment for export focusing on specific goods."
Today Nepal get some 8 lakhs of tourists every year, nearly half of them Chinese, but the proportion of the latter is increasing fast.
Xinhua regrets: “the April 25 earthquake has diminished [the inflow of Chinese tourist in] Nepal, [which is] eager to draw more tourists and boost the country's economy.
Kathmandu would like to learn more from Tibet in order to achieve a more significant growth in tourists’ inflow.
What does it mean for India?
Last year on this blog, I reported the opening of the Kyirong (Chinese: Gyirong) landport.
I then quoted from a report of the official China Tibet Online:
The Gyirong Port in southwest China’s Tibet bordered with Nepal will be formally opened in October this year. The opening of the Gyirong Port has been listed in the key work plan of national ports in 2014."
The creation of a cross-border China-Nepal Gyirong Port Economic Cooperation Zone was then announced. The website continued:
The Gyirong Port enjoys a long history of being the largest land trading port between Tibet and Nepal. Many shop owners have expressed their hope that the opening of the port can help them get more involved in the border trade. From May 2007, the Shigatse Customs House will dispatch four officials to station at the Gyirong Port. A regular coordination system had been set up in order to seek support from the Gyirong county government, the Gyirong Customs and the Risur Customs of Nepal. Besides, the officials have been trying to promote preferential trade policies to encourage the local people to participate in the border trade. And some training has been provided to the port officials in Zham Customs House, another Class A port next to Gyirong in south Tibet’s Shigatse Prefecture.
What will be the outcome of the opening of a new port between Tibet and Nepal?
What will be the consequences of the arrival of the train in Kyirong in 3 or 4 years?
It first means new infrastructure on both side of the border, not only for tourists but also commodities, including oil, food products, etc.
In the long-term, it signifies that Tibet (read China) can replace India as the main supplier of commodities.
This will have serious strategic implications for India.
And the Tibetan refugees will further suffer in Nepal.
On 29th September, on the occasion of the second China Tibet International Tourism and Culture Expo, Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, Nepal’s Secretary of Culture, Tourism and Aviation asserted:
Since our two countries [Nepal and China] established formal diplomatic relations in 1955, both sides have entered a new era of cooperation and development; high-level visits from both sides have increased as has mutual understanding; bilateral relations have forged ahead, deepening the multifaceted cooperation between the two countries. Both countries have cooperated in many areas internationally; further promoting peace, development and prosperity. The Nepal government’s stance towards the ‘One China’ policy is firm and unwavering; we will not allow, under any circumstances, any force to use our territory to encroach on the interests of our northern neighbor.
In another words, Nepal will stand with China in a ‘firm and unwavering’ manner.
Thapaliya said the Expo provided “an important opportunity for the promotion of tourism and culture in Nepal and Tibet, which will help further cooperation in this area.”
He ‘fondly’ recalled that Nepal and the People’s Republic of China have a long history of friendly relations: “Tibet has always been the gateway connecting Nepal to Mainland China; therefore Nepal and Tibet have a special relationship. Both sides have the same values based on the Buddha’s teachings and the towering Himalayas provide an important link between the two civilizations.”
It is good to know that China's Tibet is a Buddhist nation.
Thapaliya added: “China and Nepal share similar ideas and values and are geographically close.”
‘Similar values and ideals’?
What about democracy, now that Nepal has a Constitution?
The Nepali minister called for an improvement or the interconnection via land and air between China and Nepal, in particular Tibet and Nepal, adding that it will help promoting “mutual benefit, especially with respect to cultural tourism.”
India is nowhere is this new scheme.
Thapaliya even recalled: “In April this year Nepal suffered a devastating earthquake, but thanks to the strength of the Nepalese people and the powerful support of a friendly nation, normal life has been restored in Nepal.”
Nepal is presently so obsessed with China, that Kathmandu even forgets India’s help during the tragic post-earthquake days.
How to revert the trend is not an easy task.

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