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Nepal reaffirms Tibet commitment to China, refuses to yield on geostrategic tie-up demand

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(TibetanReview.net, Sep26’23) – Nepal and China have signed 12 agreements and resolved to carry forward the connectivity projects the two countries are working on including the flagship cross-border railway from Tibet’s capital Lhasa to Kathmandu. None of the agreements is on China’s planned global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in the country.

However, the lengthy joint statement released after the meeting between Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Sep 26 was clear on Nepal’s commitment on Tibet.

Nepal “will never allow any separatist activities against China on Nepal’s soil,” the joint statement said. China, for its part, said it “firmly supports Nepal in upholding its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

However, Nepal appeared to reject calls from China to join Xi’s Global Security Initiative (GSI), but agreed to take forward ambitious cross-border connectivity projects, noted thehindu.com Sep 26.

While Nepal refrained from endorsing the GSI in the statement, it did appear to agree to some elements of the kind of security cooperation envisaged by the initiative and these pertained to Chinese occupied Tibet and Tibetans living in Nepal.

The joint statement said both will “undertake joint inspection of China-Nepal boundary” and agreed that “law enforcement cooperation is of great significance to the security of the two countries” as well as “to further strengthen information exchange, capacity building and cooperation on training between their law enforcement institutions,” the report noted.

“The Nepali side supports the Global Development Initiative (GDI) proposed by China, and will consider to join the Group of Friends of the GDI,” the statement was quoted as saying. The two sides have also agreed to “accelerate consultations to finalise the text” on an already delayed BRI implementation plan “at an early date.”

The GDI, GSI and Global Civilisation Initiative (GCI) are three key new initiatives proposed by Mr. Xi that will underpin China’s foreign policy during his third term.

The joint statement reflects a careful balancing act from Kathmandu which has made clear it will work with China on development projects but take a cautious approach on matters relating to security cooperation, the report noted.

Still, the two sides have “agreed to strengthen connectivity in such areas as ports, roads, railways, airways and grids in an orderly manner” and “jointly build the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network”, as the Chinese BRI projects plan for Nepal is called.

An expected opening of the Korala border crossing between Nechung in Nepal’s Mustang district and Tibet’s Lizi village in Shigatse City during Dahal’s week-long visit to China did not materialize, perhaps reflecting China’s unhappiness with Kathmandu’s refusal yield on the geostrategic tie-up element in the BRI projects plan.

Residents of Gandaki Province expected the opening of the Korala border crossing of Mustang during Dahal’s visit to China, but the issue of opening the Korala border crossing could not be included in the agreement reached with China during the Prime Minister’s visit, noted myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com Sep 26. 

The opening of the Korala border crossing would increase bilateral trade and help the overall economy of Nepal, the report said.

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