Sino-Nepal agreement leaves Tibetans fearful

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 12

Tibetans exiled here have cast doubts on the safety and security of their compatriots following two agreements signed by Nepal and China during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s October 2019 visit to Kathmandu.

They fear the pacts could unravel a Gentleman’s Agreement among Nepali, the United Nations and other international stakeholders under which Tibetans fleeing into exile can safely transit to India via Nepal.

The details of the agreements became known publicly after Nepal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali sent a written statement to the Parliament.

The China-Nepal agreement on a boundary management system commits both sides to returning “persons found while crossing border illegally” within seven days. This could result in Tibetans, who try to escape to freedom, being sent back to the repressive rule of the Chinese Communist Party, fear International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group that works closely with the Tibetan Government in exile in Dharamshala.

The ‘Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters’ potentially opens the door for China to intervene in matters related to Tibetans living in Nepal, increasing the vulnerability and risks particularly for Tibetans who express their political views or cultural identity. Given China’s influence on the less-developed Nepal and the obvious power imbalance between the two countries, there are worries that Nepal may disregard legal protection for Tibetans while responding to Chinese requests under this treaty.

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