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When Wen?

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Some things become more newsworthy when they don’t happen than when they do. That seems to be true for the postponement of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Nepal, which was scheduled for next week.

Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha tried to fudge it by saying Tuesday that the dates had never been fixed. The Chinese side played down the cancellation, saying Premier Wen had other plans and that a new date would soon be announced.

The visit, and its cancellation at the last moment, has set off intense speculation about Nepal once more being squeezed by a shift in geopolitical tectonics in the region. There has been a more aggressive US posture following the APEC conclave in Honolulu and the ASEAN Summit in Bali in November. US President Barak Obama’s commitment at both meetings that America would “remain engaged” in the Pacific in the 21st century have been seen by many as a response to China’s growing economic and military clout. Obama’s decision to upgrade US troop presence in Australia and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s reassurances of military ties with the Philippines must have set alarm bells ringing in Beijing.

But even more worrying for Beijing must have been Burma’s ‘defection’ last month after four decades of being a loyal Chinese ally. The first indication that Rangoon was going through a dramatic transformation of its domestic polity and international orientation came with President Thein Sein’s abrupt and unilateral cancellation in September of the $3.6 billion Myitsone dam that the Chinese were building in northern Burma. Since then Burma is purposefully opening up, allowed Clinton to meet Aung San Suu Kyi and British Foreign Secretary William Hague will be visiting Naypyidaw next month.

All this must have come as a shock to China, which had lined up Burma as a strategic corridor to the Indian Ocean as an alternative to the Lombok and Malacca Straits which serve as vulnerable bottlenecks for its oil and mineral supply and exports. When Chinese leaders look at a map of the mainland and see Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Burma, India and Kyrgyzstan, they must have a feeling of being encircled.

Nepal must be sufficiently important in China’s strategic perception to warrant the planned visit by Premier Wen, a trip in which he was also going to attend a conference on the Mekong in Rangoon.

However, it would be stretching the point too thin to be predicting a Sino-Indian ‘cold war’ over Nepal. China is now India’s biggest trading partner, the two countries have deliberately kept their border disputes in deep freeze. The last thing they want is for Nepal to flare up and seriously destabilise the Himalayan rimland.

There is a convergence of interests between Beijing and New Delhi over Nepal: both want the politics to be more stable and predictable.

Premier Wen’s main objective in Kathmandu would have been to reassert his country’s misgivings about Nepal being used as a springboard for free Tibet activities. The Chinese are wary of American and European support for the Tibetan cause, and the pressure they bring to bear on Nepal to go easy on refugees and protests. The Chinese have become even more sensitive after the recent spate of self-immolation of monks in China, and it must have been a fear of a similar burning in Kathmandu during his visit going in full glare of the international media that was a factor in the cancellation of Wen’s visit.

We in Nepal have enough problems to sort out without also being a regional flashpoint over Tibet. It would behoove the Americans and Europeans to understand that Nepal can hardly be expected to stand up to China when they are going to Beijing begging for cash to bail out their economies.

China for its part should realise that Nepal is not the cause but the effect of its crackdowns in Tibet. Addressing the genuine aspirations of the Tibetan people for cultural preservation and autonomy would be a vastly superior strategy than beating and torturing monks and nuns.

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7 Responses to “When Wen?”

  1. Gole on Says:

    Beware of the Firinghees , not the khaires or quires or the gores.
    Viringhee or firinghee used to be the expression aptly used by our ancestors for the whites, the North Europeans in the past. We seem to forget that expression these days. I would like to remind the present generations of that.
    Viringhee ,the disease called syphilis was a common one before the advent of antibiotics inr the past. As it was a new introduction many died in America and in the East by the introduction through the Europeans there. So the word originates and is called Viringhee or the whit- mans disease. Beware of the white-ma and their pontifications and conversions or indoctrinations.

    Chamber’s dictionary—Feringhi,Feringhee.fer-ing’ge,n, a Hindu name for a European,—Also Ferringee (Frank)


  2. Samphe Lhalungpa on Says:

    Very interesting. Nepal has to avoid being a catspaw between rising regional powers…for the Burmese, it has to do with being overwhelmed and the loss of cntrol of the domestic the change in tack. But its a long road and small countries need to keep their wits and be nimble…I thought Feringhi came from Franks, who were among the first knights in the crusading days…anyway, dont much subscribe to racial theories of exploitaion, when I see how effective some national elites are at exploiting thier peoples…

  3. Shamir Fernandez on Says:

    It is indeed good news that the Chinese PM has canceled his KTM trip. At least for once he has to know that the Chinese cannot push their weight around everywhere. They are not a super power but a super bully. The poor Tibetans will surely achieve independence for their homeland and teach the Chinese a lesson.

  4. Puskas kapbera on Says:

    Whatever you say,china is going 2 be a superpower,china’s affection is increasing everywhere, everyone believe, if dis is fact n we believe tibet is china’s ,china never raise voice in nepal’s internal issue, why some nepali raise tibbet issue n helping them even it’s worthless. Why don’t we want best reln. Wid china? If china help us n our devlopment, why don’t we respect one china policy? As a nepali,neither we can go indoamerican ally nor chines ally. We should make proper balance reln., no matter wen’s visit, we should welcome wid our intrest

  5. Tashi Lama on Says:

    I don’t understand why someone has to be a Chinese fan, like Pukas Kapbera, he seems to be a frog well (eenar ko maindag) not of ocean (samudra) I think it is futile talking on becoming super power or not and of the sovereignty or Tibet, when one doesn’t know that fact of true history. I think Puskas will learn little bit if he visits national museum at Chowni, who knows Chinese might even try to erase those proofs by bribing the museum officials there.

    Concerning Chinese attitude and behavior, Nepalese don’t have to go far, they can just realize that from the comrades like Prachanda, Bijaya, Passang and Baburam etc. whatever they do is the copy cat of Maoism in China. At present Mao’s Marxism in China is not respected, it is because China now is the capitalist Communist, where money and power is worshiped. Poor and weaker ones are suppressed, one who rises peacefully for freedom and justice is crime against nationality, subject to severe punishment and torture without any proper judiciary and legal procedures. At present in the eyes of narrow minded Nepalese, they just see temporary Chinese money and support, they don’t see the invisible Chinese noose hanging just behind their neck!

    Concerning Chinese aids and support coming at present, it is all by the grace of historical Tibet in the past and the Tibetans refugees at present. Prior to 1959, Nepal witnessed the sovereignty of Tibet for many centuries, at present Tibetan refugees who settled in Nepal for more then a half a century. As Nepal is a true witness for all these bitter of Tibet’s sovereignty, guilty Chinese has to come to Nepal with all these aids and supports, so that Nepal remains quite about Tibet’s true sovereignty. So, I think Nepal don’t have to feel any kind of gratitude for China, as China has their own vested interest. So please don’t get confused, Chinese won’t spend single penny if there is nothing to gain for themselves! So, please great about Tibet and Tibetans. Don’t worry Wen will come, when they need to come for their interest!

  6. Karma on Says:

    Well articulated.

    If only China allow greater autonomy for Tibetans to practise their value, none would suffer so much.

    It is so idiotic to see many people who believe China will be super power. They dont realize that within China there are so many problems just ready to burst. Think of China as a combination of Arab Spring and Greek meltdown. Now multiply that by 20. That’s the problem China is going thru and Big Focking COmmie knows that. For that sole purpose alone, they are using force. Mao Commie believes using force to brutally suppress its own people will solve the problem. They dont realize that it only makes opponent stronger.

    In fact, Maos are forgetting their own history. In the 30s Mao and their supporter became stronger and stronger as Japs supporess more and more with brutal tactics. Similar way is on the way within Domestic China. No matter how much media they try to control, they can’t do it. Their homeland security budget is bigger than external Defense budget. Thats shows that they dont trust their own people. All the rich Chinese are sending their kids and wife to US, Canada, Australia and Eurpe knowing China can fall into chaos anytime.

    I am glad Chinese Chief canceled his trip. He is not welcome in Nepal. My country does not need another brutal dictator. Someone who dont mind killing their own country men and women, dont deserve to live, let alone welcome in another country with respoect. No way Jose..

  7. milan on Says:

    He wont, dont wait for him. Actually No hope for Any Communist Chinese leaders.

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