VIII. China’s Role

Historically the government of Nepal has banned “anti-China” activities on Nepali soil.123 Since Tibetan demonstrations in Kathmandu protesting China’s crackdown in Tibet began on March 10, Beijing has conveyed its views privately and publicly to Nepal through its ambassador.  In April 2008 Nepali Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala met with the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Zheng Xianglin. According to Kantipuronline, Ambassador Zheng expressed concern over increasing “anti-China activities” being carried out in Nepal. The prime minister reportedly assured Zheng that no “anti-China” activity would be allowed in Nepali territory.124

Soon after the protests began on March 19, 2008, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN-M), the largest party in the recently elected constituent assembly, issued a statement expressing solidarity with China, saying, “We want to draw the attention of the concerned [Nepali government] authority to the activities against China at the Nepal-China border.”125

Ambassador Zheng has repeatedly accused international organizations, including the United Nations and some members of the diplomatic community, of interfering in Nepali domestic affairs. Yet his public statements and other evidence of Chinese pressure and activity in Nepal, detailed below, reflect the extent to which China itself is seeking to influence the Nepali government’s response to the peaceful protests by Tibetans in Nepal.

In a public statement on May 12, 2008, Zheng expressed serious dissatisfaction over the ongoing “anti-China” protests by Tibetans in Kathmandu, and urged the Nepal government to adopt strict measures to curb such “separatist activities”:

I hope the Nepal government can honestly carry out its commitment and not allow these anti-Chinese activities to happen so rapidly in Nepal… The government cannot arrest and release them.126

Zheng seemed to suggest that some international entities, including UN agencies and human rights organizations, provoked the situation: 

UN Agency staff were present at every demonstration that occurred, I don't know what is the purpose of human rights organizations in Nepal…

In an interview with The Himalayan Times published on April 5, 2008, Zheng criticized specific international human rights organizations:

International organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have blamed Nepal Police for dispersing the demonstrators and taking away their freedom with violence. A sovereign country has its own rights to regulate activities within its borders. The international organizations have also asked Nepali authorities to mend ways, which can be seen as an intervention in Nepal’s internal affairs. They are also trying to exert some negative impact and sabotage Nepal-China relationship.

The impact of the pressure from the Chinese government on the government of Nepal can be directly and indirectly seen in Nepal’s justice system, in policing and in relation to freedom of movement within Nepal.

There is evidence of direct attempts by Chinese officials to intervene in the Nepali justice system. According to a Nepali lawyer, a senior member of the Nepal Police said that, on the morning of April 3, a Chinese embassy official sought to pressure Nepali authorities to charge six detained Tibetan protesters under the Offences against the State and Punishment Act, 1989. The act penalizes committing, attempting, or inducing others to commit “rebellion against friendly nations by using arms from the territory of the Kingdom of Nepal” with a fine of 5,000 rupees (US$75) and up to seven years of imprisonment. The Nepali authorities charged six Tibetans with a lesser offense of public nuisance, and later released them from custody.

On March 23, Amnesty International-Nepal notified the Kathmandu chief district officer of its intention to hold a peaceful protest on March 24. The CDO not only denied permission for the protest, he also took the unusual step of issuing his prohibition in writing, stating that the protest could not proceed because it would “adversely affect relations between [Nepal and China].”127 The protest nonetheless went ahead, and 148 people were arrested, including 13 Nepali human rights defenders. The police arrested the 13 Nepali human rights defenders prior to any protest taking place—no slogans had been shouted or placards raised prior to the time of arrest. They were held until evening at Singh Durbar Police Station and were not provided with any reason for their arrest.128

After what Nepali authorities said was “a request from the Chinese government,”129 Nepal in March placed movement restrictions in the areas around Mount Everest base camp and on the movement of climbers up Mount Everest in anticipation of the assent of the Olympic torch up Mount Everest on the Chinese side of the border (see details above).

There have been media and other reports of Chinese police operating on Nepali soil since March 10, in particular in the border region. On March 16, a Nepali press photographer working with a foreign journalist was stopped 200 meters inside the Nepal border by 10 Chinese police officers, who took him into an official building and searched his bag and erased his photos in the presence of Nepali police. On April 13, a foreign film crew was questioned by Chinese officials on the Nepal side of the border. Journalists have also reported a significant increase in the number of Chinese security officials operating along and inside the Nepali border.130

123 This position has been clearly articulated by all recent governments in Nepal. In May 2005, then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala assured visiting Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji that no anti-China activities would take place in Nepal ( In April 2002, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba stated the same ( In 2005 the King of Nepal, who had then assumed all executive powers, said during a meeting with China’s Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing that he, too, would not allow anti-China activities in Nepal ( In November 2006, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, representing the Seven Party Alliance, affirmed that there would be no anti-China activities permitted in Nepal (

124 “PM Koirala vows to foreclose anti-China activities in Nepal,”, April 7, 2008,

125 CPN-Maoists issues statement on Tibet unrest, Kantipuronline, March 19, 2008, and “Mahara express support to China’s stance on Tibet related issues,”, June 3, 2008,

126 “China not happy with handling of Tibetan protests,” Kathmandu Post, May 13, 2007, The also quoted the Ambassador saying, “We want the Nepali establishment to take severe penal actions against those involved in anti-china activities in Nepal.” “Free Tibet a far cry: Chinese Ambassador to Nepal,”, May 13, 2008,

127 Written response from the Kathmandu CDO to Amnesty International-Nepal dated March 23, 2008.

128 Human Rights Watch interview with representative of Amnesty International-Nepal, Kathmandu, March 24, 2008.

129 “Nepal agrees to China Everest ban,” BBC Online, March 14, 2008,

130 ”Chinese security deployed in Nepal after Tibet unrest: officials,” Agence France Presse, March 15, 2008,