Chinese embassy dances to Nepal’s tune – for a change!

Ram Khatry, 10 March 2019: Nepalese people often berate their political leaders for cowering down to either the Indian or the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu.

Historically, most governments are conceived as being close to either of the two embassies. In other words, it is the Nepalese government that traditionally dances to the tune of either the Indian or the Chinese embassy.

All that changed last Friday when the Chinese embassy danced to Nepalese tune.

Quite literally.

Look at the pictures if you find it rather impossible to believe: the China in Nepal is dancing to a popular Nepalese song, If only I could fly like a bird under the wide open sky!

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The dancing diplomat: ambassador Hou Yanqi, centre, front row I Photo: Embassy of China in Kathmandu

The beautiful and dynamic lead dancer in the picture is none other than the Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Hou Yanqi. Being dynamic goes a long way in diplomacy because a dynamic personality is always ready for a change and challenges – including dancing to the tune of a song from a completely different cultural paradigm.

Ambassador Yanqi recently took the challenge by dancing to the Nepalese folk song which no doubt had to be translated to her. Yet she danced gracefully, beautifully and with much ease – a video available on YouTube shows. She mesmerised the better-half of Nepalese prime minister KP Sharma Oli and many other VIPs including a government minister present in the packed Kathmandu hall.

Ambassador Yanqi poses with Nepalese minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizen, Tham Maya Thapa and PM Oli’s spouse Radhika Shakya I Photo: Embassy of China in Kathmandu

The audience at the 109th Women’s Day celebration, organised by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, had no inkling that the stunning beauty of an envoy was going to instantly transform herself from a hardcore diplomat into a traditional Nepalese dancer complete with the local cultural attire.

But then Ms Hou Yanqi, as a seasoned diplomat, knows the game all too well. The envoy, who holds a Master of Arts degree, was previously stationed in other countries including in the United States.

The 48-year-old mother of one son was recently in news when she slammed US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, Joe Felter, for saying that “some activities associated with the BRI are very much in China’s interests and not necessarily in the interests of the country involved”. Nepal Signed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in May 2017 and is gradually inching towards China as a communist prime minister sits at the Singh Durbar.

A Nepalese government minister recently told an international media outlet that the Himalayan nation had opted to use the Chinese gauge which is of 1435 mm as opposed to the broad-gauge of 1676 mm which is the main railway track used in India.

“The support and assistance China has offered have no political strings attached and [China] does not interfere in [Nepal’s] domestic affairs,” Ambassador Hou was quoted as saying in an Embassy statement following the US officials’ remarks, “They welcome and appreciate what China has done, and commend China as the most trustworthy partner of all the participating countries, including Nepal.”

Last year, India proposed laying a broad-gauge rail link for Nepal from Raxaul to Kathmandu which analysts believe was a response to the Chinese plan of extending its standard gauge line from Tibet to the Nepalese capital city.

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