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China-sensitive Nepal concerned as foreign diplomats attended 88th Dalai Lama birthday gathering

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(TibetanReview.net, Jul08’23) – Nepal appears to have allowed Tibetans living in capital Kathmandu to mark the 88th birthday of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Jul 6, but has now expressed concern due to the attendance of foreign diplomats in the event as this may offend China.

The birthday was marked by Tibetans across the free world. Many world leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered their greetings and wishes.

But in Chinese ruled Tibet, the birthday remains banned, with the Dalai Lama being derided as a separatist leader even though he only seeks autonomy for his homeland of 6 million people. And that is the reason why Nepal remains sensitive about the event as it does not want to offend its main source of aid and investment, which is conditioned on keeping the country’s Tibetan refugee population in strict check.

Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has raised concerns following the presence of foreign diplomats at Namgyal School in Swayambhu to commemorate the birthday of the Dalai Lama, reported myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com Jul 7. Diplomats from the United States, France, the European Union, and Japan reportedly arrived to partake in the celebration of the 88th birthday of the Dalai Lama on July 6, adhering to Tibetan traditions, the report said.

Tibetan refugee leaders had conveyed to government representatives that the birthday celebrations would strictly focus on cultural aspects, devoid of any political or diplomatic agenda, the report said.

It also quoted a senior official from Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying, “The organizers have expressed their intention to conduct the program with moderation. However, they should be mindful of Nepal’s sensitivity and the adherence to the one-China policy.”

The Ministry was stated to have expressed its concerns during discussions with officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the police on Jul 6, apparently when the event was going on after it concluded.

Authorities at the Foreign Ministry believe that the Dalai Lama’s birthday is not merely a personal or community affair but also a highly sensitive event for Nepal. They have analyzed that Nepal could face challenges if the ceremony takes on a political dimension, the report said.

The event was organized by the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office. The Dalai Lama has large following among the country’s Buddhist population, many of whom have close ethnic ties with Tibet.

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