UNHCR: Nepal-China Relationship Closes Door For Tibetans In Kathmandu

Tibet Sinicisation

China and Nepal's relationship had created problems for Tibetan refugees and this was visible in the statistics which showed the number of Tibets only 12,540, Victoria Jones writes in Le Monde diplomatique, a French newspaper citing the 2020 UNHCR report.

According to the UNHRC 2020 report, the total estimates of Tibetan refugees in Nepal reached 12,540 due to the difficulty in documentation and record-keeping but there are also other reasons involved in it.

Victoria Jones is a Senior Research Fellow at the Asia-Pacific Foundation, an international policy assessment group based in London.

Earlier, in 1955, Beijing and Kathmandu signed a treaty which recognized Tibet as part of China.

In the 1960s, Tibetans rebelled against the Chinese government after the CIA began funding. Nepal had tried to suppress the rebel.

The Nixon administration ultimately halted support for the uprising, as the intelligence the rebels offered on China was not enough to outweigh the possibility of opening talks with Mao, an attractive prospect that could further isolate the USSR in the midst of the Cold War, as per the author.

Nepal's crackdown on Tibetan refugees started off gradually. After the death of King Birendra in 2001, things became worst for the Tibetan refugees.

Author citing Amish Mulmi's book All Roads Lead North, in 2002, for the first time, Nepal cancelled celebrations of the Dalai Lama's birthday.

In 2005, the Dalai Lama's Nepali office was shut down, also as a result of pressure from Beijing.

Things started changing in 2008. While the whole world was paying attention to China for the athletic event, Olympic Games, Tibetans took the opportunity to demonstrate their rights in countries like Nepal.

Hundreds of protesters faced arrest. From that point forward, the CCP began to aggressively develop stronger links to political parties in Nepal, in order to make certain it could keep the Tibetan refugees there in check.

In 2009, China, not only politically but also start developing a financial relationship with Nepal. Beijing promised Nepal loans to develop infrastructure, agriculture, energy and tourism. Beijing also made pledges to alleviate poverty in Nepal, including agricultural training and reduced tariffs.

And to make these funds keep coming into their country, Nepal reiterated the vow to prohibit 'anti-China or separatist activities' on its soil, as per the Le Monde diplomatique report.

Kathmandu ramped up its border patrol along the China-Nepal frontier, giving 33 Tibetans who travelled to Nepal to China and breaking its unofficial agreement with the UNHCR to permit Tibetans to go via Nepal on their way to India.

The One China policy had also become crucial to the Nepal-China relationship.

Even in the current times, China has kept their eyes on Tibetan movements in Nepal. Nepal's police officers have also said that the Chinese know details about Tibetans' activities even before they do.

China still instructs Nepal's authorities on how to handle Tibetan events and gatherings, informing them of the number of officers to be deployed and the policing techniques to be employed.

Nepal's crackdown on its Tibetan refugee population has taken the form of suppressing peaceful demonstrations; celebrations of Tibetan culture and holidays are highly restricted or banned, and met with periods of increased monitoring, reported Le Monde diplomatique.

A 2022 Human Rights Watch report claimed that Nepal continues to restrict the free assembly and expression rights of its Tibetan community under pressure from Chinese authorities.

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