Tibetans hail PM Modi's visit to Lumbini, warn Nepal to be wary of Chinese manoeuvres

"Nepal needs to be careful of China and Nepalese leaders need to be mindful of Chinese political manoeuvres," said Tenzin Lekshay, spokesperson of the Central Tibetan Administration

Published: 16th May 2022 08:38 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2022 08:38 PM   |  A+A-

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba at the sacred Maya Devi Temple, Lumbini. (Photo | AP)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba at the sacred Maya Devi Temple, Lumbini. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Connected by the noble thread of Buddhism, India and Nepal are deepening cooperation in many spheres, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his first visit to the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Lumbini, on Monday. Besides India and Nepal, Tibetans too were upbeat about PM Modi's visit to Nepal.

"China uses Buddhism for political reasons and we are glad that India and Nepal are strengthening ties again. Nepal needs to be careful of China and Nepalese leaders need to be mindful of Chinese political manoeuvres," said Tenzin Lekshay, spokesperson of the Central Tibetan Administration.

China had for long wanted to develop Lumbini and had offered to spend $3 billion for turning it into a World Peace City through the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF).

"A Chinese backed foundation and the Nepal government plan to transform Lord Buddha’s birthplace in Lumbini into a magnet for Buddhists, the same way as Mecca is to Muslims and the Vatican for Catholics," according to the Lumbini Recovery Plan in the APECF website. The airport at Lumbini that was inaugurated on Monday was built with China’s investment and there is a monastery too that has come up with their support.

ALSO READ: PM Modi holds bilateral talks with his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba in Lumbini

China’s active interest in Nepal through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is making everyone wary of their intentions now.

"I have always told my friends in Nepal that you are second in line after Tibet to be occupied by China. Make no mistake. From what it seems right now, Nepal seems to have understood China’s objective and has pushed back in India’s favour with whom they have had historical and cultural ties," Lekshay said.

China also has plans of connecting to Nepal via train under the Sino-Nepal Railway project, connecting Tibet to Nepal. At present there are trains from Lhasa to Shigatse. Extension from Shigatse to Gyirong (540 km) is under construction. The distance between Gyirong to Kathmandu is just 120 km.

"When the two parts are completed and linked, international tourists will be excited about it because they can travel through the magic Himalaya regions between China and Nepal," according to Tibet Tourism.

Meanwhile, PM Modi and Nepal's PM Deuba visited the Mayadevi temple in Lumbini on Monday.

"Happy to be among the wonderful people of Nepal on Buddha Purnima," PM Modi tweeted on reaching Lumbini, where he laid a foundation stone for the construction of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in Lumbini.

Though six MoUs were signed between the two nations, India needs to consider Nepal’s requests of improving connectivity by opening more airports that would enable thousands to fly into each other's countries more conveniently. Though both PM Modi and PM Deuba agreed in principle to establish sister city relations between Lumbini and Kushinagar, a further push needs to be given by permitting direct flights linking more airports like Pokhara and Bhairawa in Lumbini with India.



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