Nepal-China accords evoke fresh, strong opposition in Nepal

Kathmandu, March 25 (IANS) The recent Nepal-China agreements on transit and transportation, energy, trade, investment and connectivity have triggered fresh opposition in Nepal even while the nation awaits Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s return from his maiden China visit.

Though the ruling parties in the Himalayan nation have welcomed the agreements, Madhesi leaders already protesting over Nepal’s new constitution have opposed the deals. The main opposition and largest party in Nepal’s Legislature, Nepali Congress, is yet to comment on it.

Madhesi leaders, who have been protesting the new constitution in Nepal, have also opposed the China’s vocal support to the new statute.

China’s move to welcome the new constitution of Nepal has no meaning, said chairman of the Federal Socialist Party Upendra Yadav.

“China’s backing to the new constitution is meaningless as a significant number of people within the country are yet to own it,” he said.

Ahead of Prime Minister Oli’s China visit, top leaders of the Madhes-based political parties had met Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai, and handed over an 11-point memorandum to him, urging Beijing to push Oli to address their demands rather than maintaining the status quo.

Yadav, who also served as foreign minister twice in the past, said the agreements signed between Nepal and China were agreed upon in 2009, but wondered why Oli was instigating propaganda over it.

Experts and diplomats also maintained that the accords signed with China during Oli’s visit now may not be implemented with immediate effect.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and Nepal’s former prime minister, hailed the agreements with China, saying they have long-term significance while maintaining Nepal’s good relations with both the neighbours, India an China.

Another prominent Madhes-based leader, Rajendra Mahato opposed the Nepal-China joint statement in which China has welcomed the new constitution of the Himalayan republic.

“Rights of the two-thirds people were curtailed in the new constitution. So how can China welcome it? The move is against the people,” said Mahato.

Madhesi leaders, all set to start another round of agitation in Nepal’s southern plains, held breakfast meeting with Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae on Thursday inside the Indian embassy.

The leaders reviewed the progress made in talks between them and the government.

In the meeting, Madesh-based leaders told the Indian envoy that they are in final preparation of the next round of protest focusing on Kathmandu and will accommodate Janajatis/Adivasis (ethnic communities) of Nepal’s hilly region, who too are equally unhappy over the content of the new constitution.

The Madheh based leaders sought moral support from India.

Meanwhile, the ruling PCN-UML’s leader Pradip Gywali said that India should not worry if Nepal extends its relations with another neighbour, China.

“We want to have pragmatic relations with both India and China based on equality, and as a sovereign and independent nation Nepal has all rights to expand its bilateral relations with any countries,” he said.

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