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Nepal's Crimson Deluge Complete
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Lt Gen Prakash Katoch | Date:07 Aug , 2013 0 Comments
Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
is a former Lt Gen Special Forces, Indian Army

On June 13, a major explosion of China’s soft power in Nepal went largely unnoticed in India. This was the gala opening of the Confucius Institute in Kathmandu University co-established by Hebei University of Economics and Business, with full support from Office of Chinese Language Council International. Zheng Xianglin, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal described the Confucius Institute in Kathmandu (fully funded by China) symbolising the in-depth development of the traditional Sino-Nepal friendship, cooperative achievements in the field of culture and education, emphasising this institute will become the tie and bridge to enhance mutual understanding and friendship.

The flip side of open borders between China and Nepal as per Wikipedia is that China has emerged a sex trafficking hub for Nepali girls…

Aside from permanent faculty, the Confucius Institute will have visiting scholars from Hebei University to provide extensive Chinese language and cultural courses to high schools and universities, social communities, enterprises and individuals. Compare this with a Nepalese military delegation that visited India last year seeking assistance to establish a Think Tank in Kathmandu and were merely promised ideas how to go about it. As early as 2007-2008, China began construction of a 770 km railway connecting the Tibetan capital of Lhasa with the Nepalese border town of Khasa, connecting Nepal to China’s wider national railway network. Both Chinese hard and soft power have been focused on Nepal over past several years to control this Himalayan country politically and strategically.

Today, China has overtaken India in establishing industries in Nepal; 565 industries with Chinese investment were registered in Nepal by mid-June 2013 attracting Rs 1.12 billion. Chinese have registered hotels, restaurants, and travel agencies and around 31,000 persons are expected to be employed by them. China has responded positively to Nepal´s request for investment in hydropower and tourism development in Nepal. This is over and above numerous ongoing development projects and three star hotels in Kathmandu over past several years manned by Chinese PLA, intelligence and Special Forces disguised as civilians. Talks are ongoing between China and Nepal for cooperation in building a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) with the assistance of the Chinese government. A SEZ on the Nepalese border side could attract Chinese businessmen to invest in Nepal and produce goods for re-export to China. This could also attract foreign investors. The land port at Kyirong in Shigatse Prefecture of TAR is the biggest land trade channel between TAR and South Asia. How much India is taking note of the growing anti-India resentment in Nepal fuelled by pro-China elements and aided by increasingly all-pervasive Chinese presence is a matter of conjecture.

The flip side of open borders between China and Nepal as per Wikipedia is that China has emerged a sex trafficking hub for Nepali girls; large number of Nepalese women and girls in recent years have been sold into prostitution or as brides to Chinese men.

China is signing away agreement after agreement with Nepal while India waits for promulgation of the new Constitution.

The Maoist insurgency in Nepal was the long-term strategic move of China. Baburam Bhattarai alias Prachanda is an exclusive Chinese protégé who had in the past even made a statement to the Nepalese media that “The ultimate fight will be with the Indian Army”. PLA soldiers in uniform have been observed working in northern Nepal in areas adjoining the border with Tibet known to have uranium deposits. China has deployed PLA in these areas to grab uranium exploration and block Tibetan refugees. Such PLA deployment also caters for Chinese interests in event of possible balkanisation of Nepal, with areas adjacent to Tibet gobbled by China or shall we say leased to China for 50-100 years, akin to Gilgit-Baltistan leased out by Pakistan. Additionally, the fact that the Chinese are buying the political and bureaucratic hierarchy in Nepal through periodic ‘special gift packages’ is hardly a secret.

With all this, China has forced Nepal to come down heavily on Tibetans and Buddhists. Even in late 1990s, Nepal, under Chinese pressure, stopped issuing refugee identity cards, leaving many Tibetans unable to get a higher education or jobs. In more recent years, Thinley Lama raising his voice for rights of 20,000 Tibetan refugees in Nepal was put behind bars. Anything Tibetan or Buddhist is anathema to China and the lives of Tibetan refugees in Nepal is turning into hell with Chinese pressure and the Maoists led by Prachanda. After his visit to Beijing, Prachanda stated that China has placed Tibet’s security issues as top priority, reiterating, “It seems China has deemed it necessary to give greater importance to relations with Nepal to realise its dream of “One China, Prosperous China.

“Incidentally, Xi Jinping treated Prachanda as a ‘Head of State’. Despite the Maoists rehabilitation having been completed, Maoists are looking for major armed role for themselves within the armed forces and orchestrating other political parties to agree with their line of thinking both in the peace process and in making the new constitution. More and more restrictions are being imposed on Tibetan refugees. China is going full hog to crush Tibetan activities in Nepal and has offered Nepal modernisation of the police posts along the Nepal-Tibet border, which could be followed up with an offer of joint patrolling. Since 2010, Nepal commenced deportation of Tibetans crossing the border – handing them back to Chinese authorities. Nepalese authorities prohibit Tibetan residents from gathering in groups, whether to mark the birthday of the Dalai Lama or just to picnic.

Xi Jinping should be happy with Prachanda but India needs to watch out.

As per a recent report, hundreds of Buddhists in Kathmandu have been holding demonstrations to protest authorities stopping them from building a Gompa (shrine) in the jungles of western Nepal. Ironically, Buddhists make up about 10 per cent of the population in Nepal, which is predominantly Hindu – talk of religious freedom in Nepal! This indicates the crimson deluge of Nepal is complete. Xi Jinping should be happy with Prachanda but India needs to watch out. With the new dispensation in Bhutan in favour of India, there is no guessing China may arm the 100,000 Bhupalese (Bhutanese refugees) in Nepal and push them into Bhutan to create instability.

Traditionally, Indian foreign policy has been based upon local players take their own judicious decision and move ahead. China is signing away agreement after agreement with Nepal while India waits for promulgation of the new Constitution. Have we taken note of the China-Nepal mechanism to share intelligence to contain anti-China activities in Nepal – no extraditions of anti-India elements but Tibetan refugees fleeing China handed back to Chinese authorities, where they may simply be put to death or imprisoned for life – raising concerns in UNHCR but apparently not in India. There is need for more pragmatism in sync with 21st Century requirements if we are to protect our national interests. Now that we are looking at our immediate neighbours in more focused manner, full exploitation of DIME (Diplomatic, Information Operations, Military and Economic) can hardly be re-emphasised. If we still need a cue, we can take it from China.

Courtesy: www.claws.in

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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