By Tenzin Sangmo
Xi Jinping with President Bidhya Devi Bhandari of Nepal at the Great Hall of the People in April 2019. PC - news.cn
DHARAMSHALA, July 1: As China’s political and economic influence expands in Nepal, the government in Nepal responded by preventing its journalists from writing critical reports on China, reports Newsgram.
China is one of Nepal’s largest investors, especially after the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on bilateral cooperation under the framework of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in May 2017.
Nepal received foreign direct investment (FDI) pledges of $427 million from China in fiscal 2017-18.
In keeping with the One-China policy, Nepal is cautious about bringing up the issue of Tibet to avoid offending its powerful neighbour.
“For the Belt and Road Initiative to be fully successful,” said Cedric Alviani, director of the Asia Bureau of Reporters Without Borders, questions from the public about the project must be suppressed and the media muzzled.”
Anil Giri, the foreign affairs correspondent for the Kathmandu Post
that journalists are discouraged from covering Tibetan affairs to mollify China and that government officials shy away from commenting on China-related issues.
The government of Nepal took a series of actions lately to affirm its commitment to One-China policy.
In May this year, the Nepalese authorities ordered a probe against three journalists from a state-run news agency Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS) for disseminating the news on the discharge of the Dalai Lama from a New Delhi hospital.
Nepal’s minister of Communications and Information Technology Gokul Baskota said Nepal must be sensitive to its neighbour’s concern and that the investigation will be guided by Nepal’s relation with China.
Giri said it is not a lack of Nepali people’s interest in Tibet, but the government’s fear of China that puts discussion of Tibet off-limits. “There is extreme pressure from China, and people are afraid to speak openly for the Tibetan refugee community,” he added.
Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said, “Presumably, the price of friendship for some governments is to prevent anything that reflects poorly on China, and any reminder of the repression in Tibet is something that does reflect very poorly.”