Archive for March 6th, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hermit: Delegates Make a Big Difference

Hellooo there, Lianhe Zaobao!

Hello Zaobao

Hermit the (angry patriotic healthy again) Taoist Dragonfly

you are complaining about Hu Xiaoyan (胡小燕) *), delegate to the National People’s Congress. You write today that when she was asked by “official television” yesterday what kind of problems her constituency (migrant workers) are currently facing, and what her motions would be during the NPC session, she appeared timid and without much to say, almost like she herself didn’t know about the situation of those she represents as a delegate.

You are falling for shameless foreign propaganda, Zaobao. Ms Hu is very efficient, she just doesn’t talk to the media about important issues!

But OK! You want to hear a delegate with some public resolve? Here you are! Imam Ma Shouxin (马寿新) from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference, has a big plan (even though it’s only for the consultative conference). On this picture, you can see how he is preparing a draft resolution in his modest hotel room! This resolution draft is against “Xinjiang independence”, and he is going to hand it over to the Consultative Conference for discussion!

He told reporters on March 2 that the central government is too tolerant with the “Xinjiang independence” elements! These elements are guilty of serious terrorist and sabotage activities, and although the central government has always been fighting against them, it is too soft-hearted (心肠太软), its measures are too gentle (手段太轻), and leaves too much leeway to these elements!

Now, the good imam wants to make sure that while safeguarding the peoples’ freedom of religion, it must also strengthen the power of its strikes against the “Xinjiang independence” elements!

Without such delegates, nothing would happen!! And you think a delegate to the NPC like Ms Hu is doing less?!


Hope this will satisfy you.



*) the video included in the linked article is of 2008. The television interview refers to was conducted on March 5 this year.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Nepal’s (potential) Tibet Dividend

Last year, Germany news magazine Der Spiegel was accused of anti-Chinese bias for putting pictures of Indian and Nepalese police wrestling Tibetan protesters, with captions about China’s crackdown in Tibet. Doing that wouldn’t be factual this year either, but it would come closer to the facts than a year ago. Nepal’s authorities have recently put a ban on all demonstrations and gatherings within 200 meters around Beijing’s embassy, and its consular outlet in Hattisar. The measure came at Chinese requests, according to

nepal_friendship_treaties2March 10 will see the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising, or, in Beijing’s words, a revolt of a “few reactionaries manipulated by foreign powers” 1). To keep those few reactionaries down in Nepal, too, Beijing is willing to spend a lot of money. When Nepal’s prime minister Dahal asked the Chinese government to support the construction of 400 MW Narsinghgad hydro-power project in Jajarkot and urged Beijing to help Nepal in infrastructure building and development of Special Economic Zones in February, China’s assistant foreign minister Liu Jieyi (刘结一) said that Beijing would be happy to support Nepal in its development projects.

Tibet may not be the only reason for Beijing to offer Kathmandu economic favors, but it is an important one. During January and February of this year alone, at least three Chinese delegations .. visited Nepal, seeking assurance that protests similar to those last year wouldn’t reoccur, writes

Barring Tibetan protesters from “sensitive”, albeit very public areas like the ones surrounding China’s diplomatic missions probably looks like a modest price to pay in return for Beijing’s support. Nepal is in dire straits economically and socially. After ten years of civil war, the once-guerilla Maoists are now leading the country’s government. But the army chief is blocking integration of the Maoists’ armed cadres into the national military. And after years of civil war, and with the background of the global economic crisis, help from Beijing could help the Maoists to gain legitimacy as a ruling party.

India, Nepal’s southern neighbor, shows no public anger about the rapprochement between Nepal and Beijing, and reportedly, India’s foreign minister Shivshankar Menon stated at a press conference in Kathmandu that agreements between Nepal’s and China’s governments were “an internal affair of Nepal”. But general elections will be held in India by May this year. India in general, and the Hindu nationalist BJP in particular, seem to view increased Nepal China relations as security threats to India. While Nepal’s security forces are suffering from rivalry between the national army and the Maoists’ troops, challenges are rising from the Southern Terai plains, home to numerous ethnic-separatist groups with murky links to smugglers, bandits and Hindu fundamentalists in India. 2) At the same time, Maoists are active in several Indian states.

The United Nations have made military integration in Nepal a priority. But this is exactly the field where secretary Ban Ki-moon saw very little – if any – progress in January. And neither China nor India will be of much help – while the Maoists are Beijing’s proxies, one can be sure that India would prefer to see the Nepali Congress Party, now Nepal’s biggest opposition party, in government, and that it is quietly backing the army in its intransigence 3), concerning the intergration of Maoist troopers.

Looking at Nepal’s general situation, India has reason to be confident – and comparatively relaxed – about Kathmandu’s current hobnob with Beijing. In ethnic terms, Nepal is much more connected with India than with China. Economically, too. In a commentary on March 3, All India Radio (AIR) pointed out India’s advantages.

Indian firms are the biggest investors in Nepal, accounting for about 44% of total approved foreign direct investment of over 346 mn US-D and also for 28.2% or 1281 operating ventures with foreign investment. China is only the second-largest investor with just about 12% share in cumulative investment, and Japan is third with 10% share. 4)

These are no huge numbers, and positions can easily be reversed, but in more general terms of global trade, what China can offer Nepal is also limited. The closest (and only practical) sea ports for Nepalese trade with overseas countries are in India. As a trading partner, China doesn’t (yet) feature prominently either.

India’s general elections may have some, or a big effect on Nepal’s development. The incumbent India Congress Party seems more willing to respect Kathmandu’s choices, than the Hindu BJP would.

But above all, Nepal’s future will depend on the ability of its own politicians to cooperate amongst each other, at least when it comes to issues of strategic importance. More independence from India would be not only in the Maoists, but even in Nepal’s Congress Party’s interest. So far, the country’s political culture doesn’t look mature at all. “To hear the [political party] leaders describe one another in private, their unity seems as amicable as that of fighting cats trapped in a bag”, wrote the Economist in 2007 5), and given the UN’s January report, things haven’t become nicer so far.

Nepal could actually profit from Beijing’s uninspired Tibet policy and its exigencies, if Nepalese politicians got their act together. But that’s a big “if”.

1) Economist, Feb 28, 2009, p. 16
2) Economist, Mar 31, 2007, p. 62
3) Economist, Jan 17, 2009, p. 50
4) All India Radio, Daily Commentary, Mar 3, 2009
5) Economist, Mar 31, 2007, p. 63

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