China on Wednesday said that its close ties with Nepal, reinforced during the recent visit of its Defence Minister to the Himalayan nation, will not affect “any third party”.
Chinese Defence Minister Gen Wei Fenghe met Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and exchanged views on matters of mutual interest and held talks with Nepal Army Chief Gen. Purna Chandra Thapa on ways to resume military cooperation and training impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic during his visit on Sunday.
“We believe that our cooperation is in the benefit of both peoples and conducive to the socio-economic development in Nepal. This relationship will not affect any third party,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here on a question on Gen. Wei”s visit.
During his visit, Gen Wei, also a State Councillor, praised Nepal’s leadership for resolutely pursuing the so-called “one-China” policy and offered firm support to the Himalayan country in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, the defence ministry said on Monday.
Under the “one-China” policy, Beijing emphasises other countries to recognise Taiwan and Tibet as part of China, it said.
As China firmed up its ties with Nepal, which shares borders with Tibet, with heavy investments besides loans and financial assistance, Beijing wants Kathmandu to stop the free-flow of Tibetans to travel to Dharamshala in India to meet Tibet’s highest spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, the statement said.
Nepal also has a large chunk of Tibetan population.
The 85-year-old Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a crackdown on an uprising by the local population in Tibet. India granted him political asylum and the Tibetan government-in-exile is based on Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh since then.
Asked about Nepal’s assurance to China that Nepalese soil would not be used for any anti-China activities and whether Beijing perceives any threats emanating from Nepal, Hua skirted a direct response.
“China and Nepal are friendly neighbours linked by mountains and rivers. This year marks the 65th anniversary of our relations. We have been standing together in COVID-19 and we have been elevating our mutual trust and friendship. We will continue to enhance our cooperation and build BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) together and elevate relations,” she said.
General Wei’s visit came days after India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla wrapped up his maiden two-day visit to Nepal. In the first week of November, Army Chief General MM Naravane paid a three-day visit to Nepal aimed at resetting bilateral ties that came under severe strain following a bitter border row between the two countries.