KATHMANDU: As China continues to increase political, economic and cultural presence, including controversial approaches and pressure in Nepal, Nepalis have started hitting the streets holding anti-China demonstrations across the country.
China has intensified its activities – overt and covert — in Nepal of late.
Lambasting China’s “conspiracy” to try to leave its footprint in Nepal through its role in all sectors and the strategic realm, several social organizations have organized protest rallies in the country.
To note, the Swantantra Nagarik Samaj (Independent Citizens Group) hit the streets of Kathmandu criticizing China for “interfering” in Nepal’s political as well as economic sectors and encroaching Nepal’s land in different northern districts, including Humla.
Demonstrators carried placards with slogans such as “Down with China government”, “stop Chinese intervention”, “stop border encroachment”, “ensure safe passge to Nepali students studying in China”, among others.
Ramu Lama, a participant in the demonstration, told Khabarhub that China was imposing unannounced blockade on Rasuwa and Tatopani check points and was tyring foul to sour relations with friendly countries.
That is not all. The demonstrators also criticized China for imposing an undeclared blockade in Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani border points by not allowing Nepali goods to enter Nepal.
In a blatant violation of its own commitment, the northern neighbor has tightened its grip at the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border point that was brought into operation declaring it as a major international border under its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
It should be noted that the government led by the then Prime Minister KP Oli formed after the promulgation of the new Constitution in Nepal in 2015 has taken special initiatives to open the northern border, which, however, has not functioned smoothly.
A transit agreement, too, was signed between Nepal and China in 2016 to allow the import and export of goods from third countries through Chinese ports.
To recall, it was also announced during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2019 that Nepal would be transformed from a landlocked to a “land-linked” country.
With this, Nepal was expected to be able to exercise its right of transit through Chinese territory and help increase Nepal’s exports.
However, this has been limited to papers since Nepali businessmen have not been able to import goods from the bordering Chinese markets.
Meanwhile, a transit protocol was also signed on April 29, 2019, during President Bidya Devi Bhandari’s state visit to China to implement the agreement.
According to Article 15 of the Protocol, the agreement had to be implemented exactly one month after each country informed the other of its enforcement.
Despite months of efforts to increase the daily import quota, China has not opened the border points under various pretexts because of which Nepali traders are compelled to pay a hefty amount of money for goods and transportation.
Consider what Arjun Poudel, a truck driver in Rasuwa has to say: “China has not allowed smooth operation of trucks carrying Nepali goods.”
It also should be recalled that China had allowed Nepal to use four open seaports — Shenzhen, Tianjin, Zhanjiang and Lianyungang — and three open dry ports — Shenzhen, Tianjin, Zhanjiang and Lianyungang.
Nepal has six border ports in China for transit. Although Nepal has access to Rasuwa-Jilong, Kodari-Jangmu, Kimathangka-Chhentang, Nechung-Liji, Yari-Pulan and Olangchungola-Riu ports, it has not been formally used.
However, though import and export are done only through Rasuwa and Tatopani checkpoints, both the points have been obstructed on the part of the Chinese government.
In the meantime, the checkpoints continue to be obstructed without enough concrete reason and consultation with the Nepali side.
Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens Uma Regmi at the sixth anniversary celebration of the China Foundation for Poverty Elevation Nepal said China should make arrangements for easy import and export of goods from the border.
Nepalis from different quarters of life have been taking China’s increased pressure as lessons to be learned on how China behaves with its neighbors.
Meanwhile, observers and analysts have to say that China is continuously exerting pressure on Nepalis, seeking benefits of good faith will have a negative impact on Nepal.
Speaking to Khabarhub recently, businessman Phurbu Tsering Tamang, who owns a shop in Kerung, said that they are compelled to pay a hefty amount of money (around 2 to 3 lakhs per month) as house rent there without operating his business.
Besides obstructing the border checkpoints, China has been playing foul to spoil Nepal’s relations with the United States of America by creating a fuss on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Of late, China has politicized the MCC by disseminating wrong facts.
Nepal Democrat Union (NDU), a Nepali social organization, in a statement issued recently said that China through its intelligence wing ‘Ministry of State Security’ has been disseminating propaganda and misinformation to attack Nepal’s sovereignty, obstruct the passage of United States grant MCC in Nepal at any cost and sever Nepal’s ties with democracies in the world, including the US.
The NDU in a demonstration organized in New Baneswor, Kathmandu recently also drew the attention of Nepali lawmakers against China’s negative influences and interventions in the internal affairs of the country.
It also condemned what it called “authoritarian Communist China’s all-out interference in Nepal aimed at undermining Nepal’s identity, communal harmony and the country’s ties with foreign nations.”
The demonstrators also raised the issue of land encroachment by China in various bordering districts, including Humla, Mustang, Gorkha, Rasuwa and Dolakha, among others alleging that “hoisting of Chinese flag in Bhairahawa-based airport last month was meant to signify that Nepal was its subordinate nation.”
It also said that discord was being promoted among Nepal’s political forces and cadres leading to social conflicts and a split of parties under the guise of MCC.
Meanwhile, Rastriya Ekata Abhiyan, a civil society organization, also staged a demonstration against China in Janakpur this week against what it said Chinese “expansionism”, land encroachment in various parts of the country and unofficial blockade at Rasuwa and Tatopani border points, among others.
The demonstrators carrying placards that read ‘Go Back China’, ‘Put brakes on Chinese Intervention’, ‘Stop border encroachment’, ‘Stop undeclared blockade against Nepal’ and ‘Arrange for a continuation of the study of Nepali students’, among others, also burnt the effigy of Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi.
That’s not all. Leaders at a program in Saptari also alleged China for interfering in Nepal’s internal affairs.
They lambasted China for using Nepali soil to fulfill its vested interest, and trying to entice the people of Tarai Madhes in a bid to fulfill its “debt trap” strategy.
Nepali Congress (NC) leader and intellectual Sabur Lal Sahu alleged Chinese companies exploiting Nepali workers by bringing workers from China to Madhes.
Likewise, Umesh Mishra, the regional chairperson of Nepali Congress (NC) Province-2, accused China of trying to increase contacts with some leaders of the Madhesi parties to increase its influence.
Birendra Sah, a central member of the Loktantirk Socialist Party said, “BRI project has been a ploy to impose a debt burden on poor nations, including Nepal.”
“BRI project should not be allowed to be implemented in Nepal,” he added.
Khabarhub had recently published a story saying that an MSS official Ling alias Oscar Ning (who holds two passports PE 0350392, PE 17327 79) has been running covert operations by stationing in Kathmandu to further the Chinese agenda in Nepal.
“Any interference from China cannot be tolerable to freedom-loving Nepalis,” Ganesh Mandal, a political analyst told Khabarhub saying that the democratic world is with Nepal and the Nepali people.
It may be noted that the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi has lately intensified political meetings with Nepali political leaders, mainly Communists.
Last week, she held talks with Jhala Nath Khanal, coordinator of the task force formed by the ruling coalition and leader of the CPN (Unified-Socialist) to recommend the government about the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
During the meeting, the Chinese Ambassador sought updates regarding the task force’s study on MCC, among other issues, according to sources.
Observers have to note that the meeting between Khanal and Ambassador Yanqi was meaningful when the task force has been entrusted to “suggest” the government about the widely-discussed US grant agreement MCC.
What is to be recalled is that Chinese Ambassador Yanqi intensifies political meetings with Nepal’s leaders when the debates surrounding MCC escalates.
Analyst Saroj Mishra views that the time has come to decide and act – for or against MCC as general people, who have absolutely no idea about MCC, have been provoked and have been brought down to the streets.
Meanwhile, in what can be termed as another instance of political interference, Chinese Deputy Minister Chen Zhao in Shenzhen emphasized Left unity among Nepal’s communist forces during a meeting with Maoist leader Barsaman Pun in China recently.
During the meeting, he expressed the confidence that the Maoists would be further strengthened under Prachanda’s leadership, and that the Chinese Communist Party and the CPN-Maoist Center were the closest allies and would strengthen the ties in the days to come.