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Nepal readies itself for Jiabao’s visit

world Updated: Dec 11, 2011 14:00 IST
Utpal Parashar

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will touch down at Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu on December 20 on a three-day official trip. And Nepal is bracing itself to welcome this special guest.

The 69-year-old ‘peoples’ premier’ who’ll lead a 101 member delegation is the most important Chinese dignitary visiting the country since his predecessor Zhu Rongji’s trip in 2001.

The visit was preceded by several high profile ones from China. Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister cum foreign minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha also went to Beijing last month to invite Jiabao personally.

A Chinese security team will arrive in Kathmandu soon to take stock of arrangements ahead of Jiabao’s trip. Municipal authorities also have begun cleaning up the city for the guest.

During the trip, China and Nepal are expected to sign agreements on Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA), building of four dry ports, construction of an international airport at Pokhara and setting up of two economic zones.

Discussions would also focus on improved security measures to prevent Tibetans from crossing over to the Himalayan nation and ways to curb ‘anti-China activities’ by Tibetan refugees in Nepal.

Since 2008, China has increased pressure on Nepal to strictly monitor its border with Tibet and keep tab on all activities by the nearly 20,000 plus Tibetan refugees in the country.

Due to Nepal’s ‘One China’ policy, there’s stringent control over activities by Tibetan refugees including conduct of religious functions. Similar vigilance over the community is expected during Jiabao’s trip.

While there is lot of expectation surrounding the visit, Federation of Nepalese Journalists, the umbrella organization representing journalists, is unhappy over certain proposed restrictions during Jiabao’s trip.

Acting on a Chinese request, the Nepal government is planning to allow only three journalists from state-run media houses to cover the trip. The FNJ is asking the government to rectify the move.

“Such a move will deprive a large section of media from getting access to proper information,” said a FNJ press release.

Jiabao’s trip shows the importance Beijing accords to its ties with Nepal. In recent years, China has significantly increased financial and security-related logistical aid to Kathmandu.

Though both India and China are engaged in an unofficial race for supremacy in Nepal, no Indian prime minister has visited Kathmandu since Inder Kumar Gujral’s bilateral trip in 1996.