A revelation of Nepal-China agreement: Nepal gets tougher on Tibetans

People crossing illegally to be handed over within 7 days

Gajendra Basnet

January 22, 2020

7 MIN READ

A revelation of Nepal-China agreement: Nepal gets tougher on Tibetans
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KATHMANDU: Ascertaining speculations about prospective Nepal-China agreements to curb the entry of Tibetans in Nepal, the two countries — Nepal and China — have inked a secret agreement to handover people entering illegally to each other’s country without enough supporting documents from their country of origin.

Although it was the first point of the 20-point agreement signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Nepal in October last year, placing it at the top of the agreements shows Nepal worked under China’s influence on this issue as well. The first point of the agreement, which has 42 clauses, written in English, Nepali and Chinese languages, was, however, kept under wraps.

This came to the fore after Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali, offering a written clarification to the members of parliament, has affirmed that Nepal and China have signed an agreement to handover the people, targeting Tibetans, entering each other’s borders without documents within 7 days of being taken under custody.

Foreign Minister Gyawali’s written clarification about this agreement obtained by Khabarhub comes as per the constitutional provision which says that the government should inform the federal parliament within one month of the session’s resumption about any international treaty or agreement the government has signed in between.

The agreement, in fact, was signed by the foreign ministers of both countries during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Nepal in October.

This becomes evident as China, for long, was trying to persuade Nepal to sign the extradition treaty.

Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali (R) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) shake hands after signing MoU in October 2019, Kathmandu. Seated are Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Nepal’s PM K P Oli (R). (File Photo: RSS)

When Nepal arrested Tibetans seeking asylum in Nepal from Humla in September, speculations were made that Nepal and China could ink something to ‘curb’ Tibetan asylum seekers and refugees during Xi’s visit.

The agreement made between the two countries violates Nepal’s ‘Gentleman’s agreement’ with UNHCR which advocates the refugee’s rights to travel to a third country.

Alarmed at the possibility for the refugees to be under the Sword of Damocles, eight US Congressmen, James P. McGovern, Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Eliot L. Engel, Michael T. McCaul, David Price, Steve Chabot, and Pramila Jayapal had written to Arjun Karki, Nepal’s Ambassador to the USA and sought more clarification on the issue. As a response, the Nepal government had reiterated its commitment to abide by the international laws then.

Earlier many human rights activists had expressed their concern that Nepal and China were inching toward signing extradition treaty targeting Tibetan refugees.

Although the agreement which will officially come into effect from next month is expected to regulate border and curb cross-border criminal activities, the government of Nepal seems to be under influence to enforce it before time.

At least, the strict measures taken against the Tibetans during and after Xi’s visit had made people conclude that way.

Despite Foreign Minister Gyawali’s claim that the purpose of the agreement is to enhance sustainable peace and friendship between Nepal and China, the agreement has actually prioritized the Chinese agenda.

Crossing border illegally will be handed over within 7 days

With the exception of few lost shepherds who happen to cross the Chinese border from Nepal, the tough and risky border is most likely used by Tibetans hoping to save themselves from Beijing’s crooked eye by coming to Nepal.

In other words, mostly, the people who cross the 1,414-kilometer-long border in Tibet, without proper documents are the Tibetan’s seeking shelter in Nepal.

Nepal and China have already signed many other documents which suffice to take strict action against the criminal activities they commit in each other’s country or the country of their origin. Besides, there are some laws that become effective in such cases.

Although it was one of the 20 agreements signed during Xi’s visit, placing it at the top of the agreements shows Nepal worked under China’s influence on this issue as well.

However, the officials have been maintaining their face-saving, reiterating though verbally, that Nepal regards the issue of the Tibetan refugees on purely humanitarian grounds and Nepal would stick to its gentleman agreement regarding making room for the Tibetan’s flee to the third country.

The agreement says that both countries shall abide by their domestic laws and international conventions to which they are party to, and shall ensure fair and humanitarian assistance to the people crossing the border without documents.

It is interesting that though China is one of the signatories of the UN Convention of the Rights of Refugees, Nepal has not signed it yet.

Human Rights regulatory agencies and the western governments have been showing concern about such agreements’ impact on the refugee’s right to life and the right to free movement.

However, the officials have been maintaining their face-saving, reiterating though verbally, that Nepal regards the issue of the Tibetan refugees on purely humanitarian grounds and Nepal would stick to its gentleman agreement regarding making room for the Tibetan’s flee to the third country.

It is estimated that Nepal shelters more than 20,000 Tibetan refugees.

It is remarkable that in an attempt to please China, Nepal had arrested 60 Tibetans during Xi’s visit to Nepal. Most of the clauses of the 42-clause agreement are tuned with Xi Jinping’s proclamation that China shall crush to those who work for ‘fragmenting’ China.  Xi meant the Tibetans by that word.

This controversial agreement is made to be validated automatically every ten years unless one of the parties of the agreement mentions the plan to withdraw from it six months prior to its maturity.

Also Read, Nepal facing alarming Chinese pressure of late

 

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