By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury | The Economic Times
NEW DELHI, India, 15 October 2019
Even as China calls President Xi Jinping’s weekend visit to Kathmandu a ‘grand success’, the Nepal government has shelved several proposals at the last minute, including those on an extradition treaty, defence and border road construction. The Himalayan nation is said to have dropped those plans following apprehensions they could infringe on its sovereignty.
While 18 pacts were signed following Xi’s summit meetings with Nepalese PM KP Sharma Oli in Kathmandu on Sunday, the proposed extradition treaty was not inked and instead a pact on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal matters was signed. ET has learnt that there were apprehensions in sections of the Nepalese government that the extradition treaty will be used to clamp down against Tibetans and deportation of Tibetans to China. Nepal shares a long border with Tibet and is home to around 20,000 Tibetan exiles.
There were apprehensions in sections of Nepalese government and polity over proposed defence agreement, pact on border road construction, opening of more port access by China to Nepal in special terms and Beijing’s assistance for construction of the National Defence University or NDU (equivalent of NDC) for Nepal. The two sides held active dialogue on NDU till few days before the visit but Kathmandu later shelved the idea due to local opposition. Chinese were also supposed to construct or at least fund part of the construction cost of the new Parliament building but even that proposal did not make much headway. Former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai had urged the government not to sign the treaty for now as discussions for a similar agreement with India were ongoing.
Nepal signed an extradition treaty with India on 2 October 1953, when Matrika Prasad Koirala was the prime minister. India, however, has been demanding a revision to the treaty. In 2006, Nepal and India were close to signing an Extradition Treaty and the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance. Negotiations, however, failed due to disagreements among the parties in Nepal. Similar attempts collapsed in 2008 and 2010.
It is for no reason that the proposed pacts were shelved at the last minute. Nepal has witnessed a series of anti-China protests in recent months over a slew of issues from protests against Huawei to financial fraud in which Chinese nationals are involved. Besides a section of Nepal Communist Party leaders, including its elected representatives in Province 1 have expressed serious concerns over big dam, construction constructed by China at Arun River.