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China's crackdown extends to Nepal

As defense analysts focus on escalating tensions in the South China Sea, recent events in Nepal confirm that China's geopolitical influence is growing in South Asia as well. From a report yesterday by the AP:

Nepalese authorities prevented exiled Tibetans from celebrating their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama's birthday on Wednesday over concerns that gatherings would turn anti-Chinese.…

Nepal says it cannot allow protests on its soil against any friendly nations, including China.

Police guarded the Chinese Embassy and its visa office in Katmandu against any protests, and areas populated by Tibetans were put under heavy security.

Authorities earlier said they would allow celebrations inside monasteries provided there are no banners or slogans against China.

Nepal has long been a pawn in the simmering border dispute between India and China that dates back to the Sino-Indian War of 1962, a month-long conflict which established the borders as they stand today. Since the war, China has claimed the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as a rightful part of South Tibet. India considers Aksai Chin, on China's western frontier, to be a part of Kashmir. The last decade has seen tensions slowly mounting on the border between the two nations, tensions that have spilled over into the country's relations with the border countries of Nepal and Bhutan. Analysis from the Jamestown Foundation explains how China has maneuvered to gain the upper hand in Nepal (links added):

The ongoing political paralysis in Nepal -- caused by the small Himalayan nation's inability to draft a Constitution -- coupled with the rise of Maoists as a major political force in Nepal's mainstream politics have created the ideal conditions for Beijing to increase its leverage and influence over Nepal. New Delhi is wary of the pace with which Beijing has been able to apply pressure on the Nepalese leadership, make inroads into the political, economic and strategic dynamics of Nepal's development and control the activities of nearly 20,000 Tibetan refugees living in exile in Nepal.… New Delhi is desperately trying to limit Chinese influence to prevent Nepal from becoming China's backyard.

Closer ties between China and Pakistan, especially over Pakistan's nuclear program, have Indian observers similarly worried. In short: Watch this space.

PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images

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