Chinese envoy's remarks over Nepal-India energy trade receive flak

IANS Photo

Kathmandu, September 8 ( IANS) China's Ambassador to Nepal, Chen Song has received widespread criticism over his remarks on the Himalayan nation’s energy trade with India.

Party leaders and MPs in Nepal have urged the government to seek an explanation from the envoy who was posted in Kathmandu earlier this year.

Addressing a discussion titled ‘China in global economy and its impact in Nepal’, Chen on September 2 spoke at length about Nepal’s trade with India.

“Unfortunately, you have a neighbour like India, but fortunately, you have a neighbour like India, because India is a huge market with a huge potential which you can tap into,” the Ambassador said.

“But at the same time, India's policy towards Nepal and other neighbours is not so friendly and not so beneficial to Nepal. So we call that policy of constraints.”

The statement has sparked controversy in Nepal, drawing flak from all quarters.

Several politicians and foreign policy experts have taken an exception to the comments.

“Ambassadors, particularly from the neighbouring countries, should be mindful about Nepal’s geo-political sensitivity while making any statement,” Madhav Kumar Nepal, a former Prime Minister and Chairman of the CPN (Unified Socialist), said at a meeting of the International Relations and Tourism Committee of the lower house on Thursday.

After several lawmakers took strong exception to the ambassador’s statement, the parliamentary committee instructed Foreign Minister N.P. Saud, who was present at the Committee meeting, to caution the diplomat.

Speaking at the meeting, Raj Kishor Yadav, chairman of the Committee, said Nepal is a sovereign and independent country and it conducts its foreign policy independently.

“We have asked the foreign minister to caution the Chinese ambassador and seek a clarification, asking him not to make such remarks in the future,” Yadav said.

“The government should sensitise the diplomats about our sensitivities on a serious note so that such incidents would not occur in the future.”

Former prime minister Nepal also said that ambassadors from different countries should understand that Kathmandu is in a very sensitive situation.

“Envoys should speak with due respect to Nepal’s geopolitical sensitivity and the country’s non-alignment policy,” Nepal said.

“Speaking against each other will invite geopolitical complexities, so the ambassadors should be mindful while speaking.”

CPN--UML's lawmaker Bhim Acharya, Deputy Secretary General of the CPN ( Maoist Center ) Barsha Man Pun, Shisir Khanal of Rastriya Swatantra Party, Mahantha Thakur of Loktantrik Samajbadi Party and other lawmakers have urged the government to summon the Chinese Ambassador and asked him not to make any comments on Nepal’s internal affairs and bilateral relations with other countries.

Foreign MinisterSaud said that he will look into the issue and will do a needful action.

As Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is all set to visit China beginning on September 22, it is unlikely the present government will stand firm against the statement made by the Chinese Ambassador.