Chinese premier Wen visits Nepal, offers aid


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has made a surprise visit to Nepal and announced Beijing with provide the Himalayan nation with $119 million in aid for economic development.

Wen, who arrived in Kathmandu on Saturday on his way to the Middle East to attend the Fifth World Future Energy summit in Abu Dhabi, and met with his Nepalese counterpart, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai.

According to VOA, he also promised money for infrastructure projects to help rebuild the nation following years of political uncertainty and a decade-long civil war.

China's major concern in Nepal has been its thousands of Tibetan refugees who want independence from China. 

Nepal is home to about 20,000 Tibetan refugees, who agitate for independence from China and the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 amid an uprising against Chinese rule.

According to the Associated Press, thousands of Tibetans pass through Nepal each year on their way to India, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile.

The Hindu reported that Beijing had asked Nepal to tighten security in border areas and "clamp down on the activities of Tibetan separatist groups." 

China has previously built highways and financed other development projects in Nepal, the AP wrote, however it is now looking for help in developing tourism infrastructure, an international airport, mountain highways and a hydropower plant.

The Nepalese government has worked to suppress anti-China sentiment there.

Wen was scheduled to visit Kathmandu in December, but postponed owing to security concerns.

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