Open letter to President Xi Jinping
While putting my thought full of anger and delusion, I am pretty sure that my letter will not reach you. However, as a citizen of your neighboring country I am very much in direct effect anything you, your government and the country as a whole do. Before going precisely in the purpose of this letter, let me congratulate you, your government and the people of China for your skillful and artistic efforts in combating the COVID-19 crisis. The virus that has engulfed the entire world in such a way that the humanity appears to be in some sort of anxiety and every individual’s life, until this time, seems somehow in the verge of life and death. In such a troubled time, China seemed to have regained its confidence on being able to protect its citizens, which is something that most of the countries are struggling to manage at this time of crisis. In this toughest time in the recent history, China’s efforts in assisting the rest of the world to deal with the Corona Crisis is very appreciating and praiseworthy. Thanks to your active role in helping the humanity continue its survival.
Similar to that of the rest of the world, Nepal is facing the COVID-19 pandemic. And not to mention, how difficult Nepal might be having to deal with this pandemic being a very poor country while a lot of developed countries have nearly kneeled down to this deadly virus. I am much confident that this fact has not hidden from you. Equally am I certain that you internalize the struggle of countries like Nepal more than many other now-developed countries particularly because not long in history had China struggled with such crises. I beg your pardon to remind you that less that 60 years ago China had faced the Great Famine loosing over 15 million of her beloved citizens. Similarly, not long ago in Chinese calendar had there been marks of outbreaks of such influenza pandemics and the number of death tolls might still freeze your memory for seconds reminding you of those catastrophes your fellow citizens and predecessors had to face; Spanish Flu, Asian Flu, Hong Kong Flue, Russian Flu and H1N1 to name them.
Nepal has not had a lot of infected cases until now, however, the real picture could be way terrifying than what actually seems to be since we have very limited sources first to figure out the cases, second to trace the contacts of the cases and last to test the mass. However, the government decision to lockdown the country has played a very significant role in not letting the crisis slip out of hand.
Now, allow me to come to the point I wish to bring about to your knowledge. It would be too illusive of me to believe that the fact that Nepal shares its longest border, mostly open, with India and the other side of it is China, with whom we have almost no border disputes. Literally, a neighbor is someone who we rely on in the toughest times and on whom we bear some moral responsibility to share the bad times healing each other’s wounds. Nepal has adopted a foreign policy of equidistance between India and china long before its formal diplomatic relation was established with both these nations.
I need to beg a pardon to remind you about how Araniko (Balabahu) from Nepal had contributed in the development of present-day mouthwatering architecture of China. Similarly, a marital relationship between Bhrikuti from Nepal and the Songtsen Gampo (the 33rd king of Tibet) depicts the age-old relationship between the two nations. The history of how Nepalese currencies used to be the medium of business exchange in Tibet is something to cherish between China and Nepal. All these cases trace how Nepal and China have been in deep socio-economic-political relationship beside the geographical proximity. Except few odd times in the history, Nepal always shared a very pleasant and friendly relationship with China which you reiterated in your recent visit to Nepal, Your Excellency. Your state visit to Nepal as the first president in more than two decades is a milestone evidence of your affection to Nepal.
Honorable President, you are all aware about how Nepal has continuously held the One-China Policy and that Nepal has stuck to this principle for long time now. Similarly, we have tremendously been benefited from the prosperity of your country. Oftentimes, Nepal has been provided with diplomatic, physical and moral supports by China when Nepal felt the need of them. We are honestly thankful for the selfless support China has provided at different times in history. However, we are aware of the fact that sometimes the national interest of a country drives a country to act or not to act in a particular way that the country is expected to do.
Your Excellency; allow me to claim the fact that along its northern border, Nepal meets both China and India somewhere around the Lipulekh Pass in the District of Darchula of Nepal is in your knowledge. Less than a week ago, on the 8th of May this year, the Defence Minister of India Rajnath singh inaugurated a road that would join Uttarakhand of India to the Kailash-Mansarovar located in Tibet, China for two claimed purposes; 1) to open a trade route between India and China, and 2) to ease the route for the Indian Hindu pilgrimage (Yatris) travelling for Kailash Yatra. As a Nepali citizen it should not have been any concern of ours. However, the inauguration is not just a matter to be attentive about but a serious concern deserving a strong condemnation since one of the three parts of the Uttrakhanda_Mansarovar travel route falls in the territory of Nepal. Most importantly, Your Excellency, India has constructed this route without the notice of Nepal let alone its conscience or permission.
In this regard, one might feel why I am writing to you while it is not China that has constructed this road but India, therefore, the letter should have been addressed to the Indian counterpart instead or to Narendra Modi, the PM of India. But Mr. President, I am writing to you for all the reasons that underpin a very long friendly and honest tie between Nepal and China. Dear Mr. President allow me to remind you the time when after the independence from the British the then PM of India Jawahar Lal Nehru had made two proposals to the then Chinese Premier Chou En-lai to annex Nepal dividing it into two halves; the Norther belt to China and the Southern belt to India, or to support India in letting it control over Nepal’s foreign affairs and defense mechanism. However, Premier Chou had rejected both the proposals straight stating the age long existence of independent Nepal despite both India and part of china having fallen in control of other countries. Premier Chou had reminded Nehru cordially to respect the virginity of Nepal.
Having brought this historical anecdote in account Mr. President, I am painfully reminding you how you could accept the proposal of India to let it reach China through Nepal without any notice of Nepal. Pardon me dear Mr. President if the government of Nepal did not bring in public any diplomatic correspondence you or China had with Nepal regarding this issue. Let me also highlight the fact that there had been news about the then PM of Nepal late Sushil Koirala sending China the diplomatic note about the Indian proposal to link between India and China through Lipulekh Pass back in 2015. If so Mr. president, how could I forget all those historical facts when China stood beside Nepal at tough times and how shall I believe that you accepted this crooked diplomacy of India to attack on the sovereignty of Nepal.
India claims that they have not entered into the territory of Nepal and that the entire new route falls within Indian border. However, your Excellency, Nepal has rejected the fact that the area is a disputed area and claimed that it belongs solely to Nepal while India had at various times accepted that the area is in dispute. If so, how could a country allow road construction on the disputed area and on top with no consultation to the counter party. Nepal government has already called the Indian ambassador to Nepal V. M. Kwatra and summoned him over the boundary issue. On top, the foreign Ministry has also issued a statement of condemnation calling this act of India a regretful neighborly action. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, Mr. President, the patriot Nepalese public have made it to the street for demonstration without taking a heed to the virus and risking their lives. They have refused to abide by the lockdown forced by the government to deal with the virus.
I shall not remind you about how this act of India is a total breach of International Law, the Boundary Treaty (1970) and the Treaty of Sugauli between Nepal and the then British India (1816) and also the Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship (1950). In this regard, Your Excellency, all the common Nepalese are carefully waiting for how you and China will show your historic friendly relation with Nepal and stand by the side of Nepal one more time when it has been affected by the imperialistic attitude of the ruling India.
Once again congratulations for your honest speedy efforts in tackling the COVID-19 and abundance of thanks for helping humanity deal with this Pandemic.
The writer is currently studying International Relations and Global Studies at Roskilde University, Denmark.
Published 14 May 2020