There’s talk about “people to people exchange.” This is never entirely defined, other than in tourism. As a writer and filmmaker, I also want the Nepal government to formalize some agreement on intellectual copyright issues. How can Nepalis translate and get their works published in China with legal protection—other than by going through the circuitous route of an American or Western literary agency, which is currently the only option? How can we show our films in China in a way that makes it profitable for both sides? Currently there are no formal agreements between Nepal and China on intellectual property rights in books, films and music. This is something we should think about, as our young filmmakers are increasingly making better films and music videos. We should also be able to compensate the filmmakers in China by watching their films on the big screen, and not just on pirated DVDs.
A government exchange program which takes teams of Nepali filmmakers to China to expose them to their world-class filmmaking industry, including on short-term training programs, would be extremely welcome.
For women and young people all over the world, the viability of the planet and its survival has become a huge concern. China is a major emitter of greenhouse gases. Nepal must definitely raise this issue, including ways in which China could phase out coal and shift to clean energy. With global warming, we are losing our glaciers and Himalayan rivers. About 1.3 billion people (Nepalis and Indians) depend on these rivers for drinking water, irrigation and livelihood. They are also sacred to Hindus. We cannot afford to lose these rivers. What can China do to offset its carbon footprint so that we can slow down and stall the melting of the glaciers?
This brings me to plastic. China has long depended on the plastic industry to boost its exports and create the new wealth which has uplifted its population. However, plastic can no longer be the material on which China builds its prosperity. Plastic’s impact on people, animals, birds and all living creatures is now well-known. We are being inundated with this material which neither biodegrades nor provides any value to soil, air and water, other than causing their desecration. China has to move away from plastic as its backbone, and look for new materials that ideally nourish the soil and air, or at least do not cause harm. It has already stopped the import of plastic waste from America and other countries, citing pollution. Now it needs to stop the manufacture of plastic, and quickly reinvest in new green options to stay ahead in the plastic alternative game.
I was at my local shop the other day when a young teenager walked up with one of those disposable coffee containers ubiquitous in the West, but which we hadn’t seen in Nepal so far. Now with Chinese goods being sold through websites, we are seeing these lethal objects in Nepal. The only way to dispose of these single-use plastic containers is to incinerate them. This contributes to Kathmandu’s deathly pollution, as well as to the region’s global warming. This has to stop, on both a moral and ethical level. This is not development or prosperity. This is madness. We are destroying our future generations when we choose these materials as our base.
In addition, there are several points of disagreements which Nepal as a democratic country has with China. We cannot support the kind of state-endorsed surveillance commonplace in China. People should not be monitored by these surveillance programs—this is a fundamental violation of people’s rights to privacy. These surveillance technology are now commonplace in Hong Kong as well, which is alarming.
China must resolve its differences with Hong Kong peaceably, including respecting the terms and conditions with which Hong Kong was handed over by the British. In addition, Nepal cannot support China’s treatment of the Uighurs. These programs of coercion and indoctrination must end, and programs which encourage Uighur youths to start small businesses and move away from radicalization must be put in place instead.
Also Nepal cannot support any program of extradition which may affect Tibetans. Tibetans who came as refugees are one of Nepal’s most hardworking communities, tirelessly bringing in the foreign exchange through the many entrepreneurial ventures that they run. The biggest export from Nepal to China may be Tibetan hand-knotted carpets. Tibetan Buddhist teachers run religious institutions and give lectures on Buddhism which also attract many international visitors, including many from mainland China. Nepal, as a country dependent on tourism, sees them as a valuable part of national life, not just due to their contribution to the economy but especially for their role in keeping alive the Buddha Dharma. They are valued citizens and we cannot put them at risk in any way.
This is the second of a three-part article on Nepal-China relations