Nepal: Committed not to allow its soil against Chinaís core interests

Tank Karki

Former Nepal Ambassador to China

TGQ1: What you think could have been the prime reason for Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s postponement of Nepal visit? Don’t you think that to consider the postponement of this visit due to excessive busy schedule will be a false presumption? What say you Mr. Karki?

Mr. Karki: The Chinese side has itself described the visit to have been postponed due to reasons internal. When they themselves have said so then I don’t think we should go on digging further reasons.  Mind it that those talks and explanations have not emanated from the ones who walk on the streets. It has come in an authoritative manner from the Chinese side itself. If so then we are bound to believe to those Chinese explanations.

Definitely, as and when such a high level visit is planned, the one party concerned may have raised its concerns of ‘security situation’ which could well be associated with this visit or for that matter with the postponement of the visit. For that, from our side, we must remain aware and smart enough in providing adequate attention to those aspects so that a favorable atmosphere could be made. We should make such an atmosphere to assure the invited guests.

TGQ2: As a matter of diplomatic courtesy and friendship with Nepal, the Chinese side may have talked of excessive busy schedule to avoid Nepali embarrassment. Isn’t that possible? It is also talked that China had yet to declare the dates of the visit? Was it so? Also tell us about the puzzle that Nepal’s foreign Ministry too did not reveal the dates of the visit? Could it be taken as Nepal government’s failed diplomacy? Wasn’t it so?

Mr. Karki: Let’s not forget that it was not only the Nepal visit but also the Myanmar trip too had been postponed at one stretch. PM Wen Jiabao was first scheduled to make his visit to Myanmar and later Nepal was on the trip agenda. Had it been a talk associated with the postponement of Nepal visit only then the matter could have been taken and talked in a different way and could have been observed through different angles. Thus it would be advisable to take the postponement issue as to how the Chinese side has explained. Their own internal reasons could have been responsible for the shift of the Nepal visit.

Notably, it is in the diplomatic practice that as and when such high level visits are being planned, the visit dates and other details are not declared in advance. This is the normal diplomatic practice across the world. Eventualities of security matters and other unseen and unexpected jobs are taken into proper account while declaring the dates of such a high level visit. The practice of advance declaration of the dates could be found nowhere in the world. I think, the Nepali side has committed some mistakes somewhere in this regard. Lapses have come up from the Nepali quarters.

Well, as regards to you tagged question, what I have heard is that such a declaration was made from above the Nepali Foreign Ministry itself.

I would not prefer to take it all as Nepal’s total diplomatic failure. At times such eventualities do happen. But one has to remain vigilant upon studying the internal dynamics of such eventualities so that things do not happen in a repeated manner. They themselves have been expressing that this is just the postponement only and that we will make this visit to happen. I am confident that Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s visit will take place sooner than later. I am hopeful in this regard.

TGQ3: Can the postponement of the proposed visit be taken in a light manner as to have been cancelled for the moment citing busy schedule? Does not all this raise ample suspicion? Moreover, as we understood that some Chinese high level officials were right here in Kathmandu who took note of the prevailing security situation in Nepal and only after their return home this visit has been postponed? Can we see these two things separately? We have also been told that this had to be materialized much ahead. Why it could not happen then? What say you Mr. Karki?

Mr. Karki: Definitely, we must believe to what the Chinese side has explained to us. Had the lapses been from our side then that is surely our matter to ponder over. We must not allow the lapses to happen from our side. How can we take the guarantee of the explanations that have come from the other side?

Well, the talks that the Chinese high level officials were here, I too could notice from the media dissemination. I must not speak on hypothetical presumptions unless I have the authoritative explanations with me. Definitely, they may have assessed the overall situation here. They may have further analyzed the prevailing situation in Nepal. We are still undergoing through a period of political transition. We are approaching some sort of stability after the completion of continued instability. But the fact is that the visit of the high level Chinese authorities had to be completed much ahead.

It could have been that looking upon our own internal situation, the visit may have been delayed.  They might have shifted the visit in search of an opportune moment. They may have also looked upon their own preferred timing for the Nepali visit.

China is currently being run under the leadership of the fourth generation. The impending 18th general Assembly will see the emergence of new leadership by replacing the current one. The previous three leadership have had already made their Nepal trips.  They may have also preferred to make the Nepal visit when this country was on its course of peace process.

TGQ4: We have leant that the Chinese have attached much importance to the Tibetan activities in Nepal instead of exhibiting their keen interest in the end of a decade long internal conflict? We have also been told that the Chinese side have also felt somewhat uneasy from  the Indian side on their security because rumors have it that some Tibetan monks were specially sent to Nepal from Dharmasala for black flag demonstrations at time of the Chinese Prime Minister’s Nepal visit? Is that correct Mr. Karki?

Mr. Karki: Each country has its own sort of interests and sensitivities. None of the countries can remain aloof from such concerns and interests. Naturally, if they-the Chinese side, exhibit concerns as regards their country’s security matters then that should not be taken in an otherwise manner. It is not unnatural for the Chinese side to look after its security interests because Nepal is the soft part which adjoins Tibet and China expects that Nepal in no way becomes a threat to their country’s prime security interests. They wish that Nepali soil is not used against their country. It is only but natural. We too remain committed to “One China Policy”. We are committed not to allow the Nepalese soil to be used against China’s “core interests”. The made commitment must be strictly followed. Besides this, in my opinion, the Chinese have not expected from us more than this.

As regards to your associated question, I must admit that I have little knowledge about such events. If something of this sort has happened then that is not good. The State must check such likely sad events. We have to abide by the commitments made for enhancement of our bilateral relations. The action must be in both words and deeds. The geo-strategic and the geo-political situation or say location wherein we stand has also awarded us with the responsibility of being serious towards the security concerns of both the neighbors. This is our liability as well. We must not allow our lands being used against their security interests. We in effect wish to better our bilateral relations with both of our immediate neighbors. If any alien force creates problems for us then the State must do all it can in order to check such nefarious activities.

TGQ5: As and when government in Nepal changes, it is either dubbed as pro-India or friendly to China. Why so? Is it that not so many efforts were made to invite Chinese Prime Minister during your four years tenure in Beijing as Nepal’s Ambassador there?

Mr. Karki: The Chinese side takes any political changes in Nepal as an internal affair of this country and do not wish to interfere. They are committed to this policy. I have found the Chinese to proceed ahead with Nepal in a cooperative basis. Whether it is the time of the Nepali Royalty or later when various governments were formed, there has not been any change as such in Chinese approach with the existing government in Nepal. This could be taken as the best part of China-Nepal relations.

It is not that as you have stated. When Pushpa Kamal Dahal was Nepal’s Prime Minister, talks had already been initiated to make the Chinese PM’s Nepal visit. Even Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhal Nath Khanal had extended invitations to the Chinese prime Minister when they were themselves the Prime Minister of this country.

Text Courtesy: The Budhbar Weekly dated December 21, 2011. Thanks.

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