The Chinese President reacted angrily after the Himalayan kingdom refused to sign an extradition treaty aimed at deporting Tibetan refugees back to China.
by Massimo Introvigne
Nepal is home to some 20,000 Tibetan refugees, 9,000 in Kathmandu alone. Their status is uncertain, as Nepal has never signed the Geneva Convention and Protocol on refugees. In the past, some refugees have been stopped at the border, and under Chinese pressure the police has prevented anti-CCP demonstrations to be organized in Kathmandu.
This was then, though. Now, under Xi Jinping, the attitude of Nepal is no longer enough for the CCP. They want the Tibetan refugees deported back to China, starting with those who tell to international media the story of the atrocities they suffered in Tibet. Chinese media, and pro-CCP Nepalese media, have already started their familiar campaigns, claiming that the Tibetans in Nepal are “false refugees.”
An extradition treaty was ready, and President Xi Jinping went to Nepal on October 12-13, expecting to sign it with great fanfare. It was the first visit of a Chinese President to Nepal since 1996. In addition, China would have assisted Nepal in setting up a National Defense University to train military and police personnel. What Chinese professors would have taught them is easy to imagine.
Xi’s visit, however, did not go on as expected. When he arrived in Kathmandu, he was informed that the Nepalese government had decided not to sign the extradition treaty, nor the agreement about the National Defense University. Nepal also refused Chinese money for building a new Parliament building and roads near the Chinese border.
The Nepalese knew that Xi had to save face, and signed a Pact on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, but this refers to common, non-political crimes and is not the extradition treaty the Chinese expected to sign. The usual trade agreements were also signed.
For once, the protests by human rights organizations and the Tibetan diaspora were heard, although it is expected that China will continue to put pressure on Nepal, and Nepalese Prime Minister Sharma Oli, who is a member of the Communist Party of Nepal, reiterated that anti-CCP demonstrations are forbidden in Nepal.
That Xi was not happy was confirmed by the belligerent tone of his speeches in Kathmandu. Referring to Hong Kong, he stated that “anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones.” He added that “those who engage in separatist activities in any part of China will be smashed into pieces.” Local media interpreted the words as a veiled threat to Tibet and to all who would support Tibetan refugees.
As usual, the Chinese were not informed of the failure of Xi’s visit to Nepal. It was hailed by CCP media as a great success.