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‘Free Tibet’ protesters jolt Chinese team in Nepal


Kathmandu : In a major embarrassment for the Nepal government that reiterated its commitment not to allow anti-China activities, a visiting delegation from China’s ruling communist party Wednesday faced protests by Tibetan activists who asked Beijing to free Tibet.

Six Tibetan men were arrested by police as they stopped a motorcade carrying the 17-member delegation from the Communist Party of China led by its politburo member Zhang Gaoli. The Tibetans waved the Tibetan flag – a rising sun surrounded by rays – and shouted slogans accusing China of butchering human rights in Tibet.

The Chinese delegation had arrived in Kathmandu Monday and signed a memorandum of understanding to increase scholarships in China for Nepali students.

They had also met President Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and leader of the opposition Maoist party, Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda Tuesday. All the Nepali leaders had reiterated Nepal’s commitment to the ‘One China’ policy, that regards Tibet and Taiwan to be inalienable parts of the Chinese republic.

The demonstration took place in front of the five-star Hyatt Hotel, where the delegates were staying, as they were on their way to the airport after ending the goodwill visit.

Police had Tuesday arrested two more Tibetans from the Boudhanath area of Kathmandu, where a large number of Tibetan refugees live, in a bid to prevent anti-China demonstrations.

The Kathmandu protest comes at a time China is smarting under exiled Tibetan leader Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan to console survivors of the typhoon that hit the island nation earlier this month and the sight of hundreds flocking to his sermons.

The rising demands for a ‘Free Tibet’ are a sore irritant for the Chinese government that is celebrating this year as the 50th anniversary of the ‘complete demolition of the cruel feudal reign of the Dalai Lama’ that prevailed in Tibet.

In 1959, eight years after China invaded the Buddhist kingdom, the Dalai Lama fled to India after a failed uprising and China’s control was complete.

In October, China will also celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of its republic when Tibet will be showcased to visitors as an autonomous state that developed by leaps and bounds under Chinese stewardship.

Beijing is wary about the Tibetan diaspora in Nepal, whose number had been swelling with nearly 2,000-3,000 people crossing into Nepal every year in search of religious and other freedom.

The diaspora kept up anti-China protests for nearly 10 months last year, humiliating Beijing at a time it was hosting the 2008 Olympic Games.

China has been trying to suppress the free Tibet movement in Nepal by tightening vigil across the China-Nepal border to prevent Tibetans from escaping. It has also successfully pressured the Nepal government into stopping issuing IDs to fresh Tibetan refugees as well as closing the office of the Dalai Lama’s representative in Kathmandu.