IGNORING PRESSURE from the United States and European countries, Nepal on Sunday pledged to sign an extradition treaty with China soon.
While a joint statement by Nepal and China, released a couple of hours after President Xi Jinping returned home after his two-day state visit, said both sides “hope” for an early conclusion of the treaty, the two countries signed the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on criminal matters — seen as precursor to the extradition treaty that Beijing has been insisting on.
Nepal shares a long border with Tibet and is home to around 20,000 Tibetan exiles — two cases of self-immolation by Tibetans have been reported in the last few years. Any anti-China activity on Nepal’s territory is seen by Beijing as being instigated by western countries, mainly the US, and Nepal-based human rights organisations funded by these countries.
In 2016, the US authorities had “unofficially” warned the Nepal government that any extradition treaty with China would have serious repercussions.
The development came on a day when Xi, according to a Reuters report, warned that any attempt to divide China would end in “shattered bones”. Beijing is facing political challenges in months-long protests in Hong Kong and US criticism over its treatment of Muslim minority groups.
“Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones,” Xi told Nepal’s Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli at a meeting on Sunday, according to China’s state broadcaster CCTV. “And any external forces backing such attempts dividing China will be deemed by the Chinese people as pipe-dreaming,” he was quoted as saying.
Quoting CCTV, Reuters said Oli told Xi that Nepal would oppose any “anti-China activities” on its soil.
Xi’s visit, the first by a Chinese President in 23 years, has been hailed as the “beginning of the new era” in the seven-decade-old bilateral relation. During his meeting with his Nepalese counterpart Bidya Devi Bhandari on Saturday, Xi announced a support of RMB 3.5 billion, equivalent to NRs 56 billion, to Nepal over the next two years to help its development programmes, officials said.
The two countries signed 20 agreements and MoUs across different sectors such as transport, agriculture, industry, commerce and supply, including on protecting Mount Everest, which, they said, “is an eternal symbol of the friendship between Nepal and China”. “The two sides will promote cooperation in different fields, including addressing climate change and protecting the environment,” they said.
The two sides agreed to develop three North-South corridors, touching India and China, as economic corridors. They also agreed to “bring into full play the joint implementation mechanism on Nepal-China cooperation in energy sector involving hydropower, wind power, solar power, biomass energy and other kinds of new energy as grid systems.”
Apart from promoting connectivity through air, railway, road and ports, “the two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation between the law enforcement agencies on information exchange, capacity building and training.”
“With a view to promoting cooperation in security sector, the two sides will continue to strengthen cooperation in the exchange of visits of security personnel, joint exercises and training, disaster prevention and personnel training,” the joint statement said.
PTI adds: Xi also pledged to upgrade the Arniko Highway linking Kathmandu with Tatopani transit point — which was shut down following the 2015 earthquake — and open more customs points facilitating connectivity. He said a feasibility study of trans-Himalayan railway will soon start and China will also support construction of the Kerung-Kathmandu tunnel road.
“We have model friendship in the world, and there is no issue between the two countries,” Xi said, during a state banquet hosted by President Bhandari on Saturday. “We want to support Nepal in realising its dream to become a land-linked country from the landlocked country,” he said.
He said China would provide further support in the post-quake reconstruction, promoting ‘Visit Nepal Year 2020’, support education sector and urban development in the country.
On her part, Bhandari reiterated Nepal’s commitment to ‘One-China policy’ and said Nepal would not allow any force to use its territory against China. She also sought China’s assistance in constructing the Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu-Lumbini railway line.
Xi also met Opposition Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba, and Nepal Communist Party co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda.