China, which had tried its utmost to bring Nepal into its exclusive sphere of influence, is now apprehensive of the Himalayan nation’s resolve to improve ties with India and the USA.

Beijing’s nervousness over the Sher Bahadur Deuba government’s firm intention of bringing its relations with India back on track and its growing closeness with Washington became apparent at a recent meeting between top officials of both the countries.

China had managed to bring Nepal under its spell during the rule of the communist Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, during which ties with India weakened considerably. Beijing had also forced Kathmandu to desist from signing the Nepal compact of the Millenium Challenge Corporation under which the US will extend a US $500 million grant to Nepal for producing clean energy, undertake climate change mitigation measures and for power and infrastructure projects.

Oli had staved off signing the agreement for the US grant at China’s behest. But the Nepali Congress government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba ultimately ratified the agreement in late February this year. China has not taken too kindly to Kathmandu defying its wishes and trying to forge closer ties with Washington.

At the 14th meeting of the Nepal-China Bilateral Bilateral Consultative Mechanism held last week, the Chinese side reportedly nudged Kathmandu to continue with its One China policy and guard against ‘internal or external factors’ influencing the policy in any manner.

This exhortation comes in the wake of a senior US official meeting Tibetan refugees in Kathmandu during an official visit to Nepal. US Under Secretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights, Uzra Zeya, met Tibetan refugees in Nepal’s capital in the third week of this month.

Zeya also serves as the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues in the Biden administration. Before flying to Kathmandu, Zeya had traveled to Dharamshala–the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in India’s Himachal Pradesh–on May 18 and met the Dalai Lama as well as senior religious and political figures of the Tibetan community there (read this and this).

Soon after reaching Kathmandu, the US official visited the Tibetan refugee settlement at Jawalakhel near Kathmandu where, apart from Tibetan refugees, she also met human rights activists and discussed the problems faced by the community in Nepal. Zeya wrapped up her visit to Nepal on May 21 by visiting the Bouddha area in Kathmandu where a large number of Tibetan refugees live (see this).

Representatives of the Tibetan refugees complained to the visiting US official that about seven thousand of the fifteen thousand refugees in Nepal had not been provided refugee identity cards and other documents by the Nepal government. This has put them in a severe disadvantage in securing admissions to educational institutions, getting jobs, traveling abroad or engaging in many social activities.