South Asia

Nepali Editors Condemn Chinese Embassy for Statement Criticising Newspaper

The Chinese Embassy in Nepal criticised the Kathmandu Post for publishing an op-ed on the coronavirus, accusing the country's government of failing to act quickly.

New Delhi: After the Chinese Embassy in Nepal issued a statement criticising The Kathmandu Post newspaper for publishing a report with “malicious intent” to “deliberately smear” the Chinese government and people in their efforts to fight the coronavirus, more than a dozen prominent Nepali editors have registered their protest.

On Tuesday, the newspaper published an op-ed, titled ‘China’s secrecy has made coronavirus crisis much worse’ by Ivo Daalder, which was originally published by The Chicago Tribune. The story had an image that portrayed mao Zedong in a mask. The article criticised China for failing to report the virus to the World Health Organisation sooner. “Official communications stressed that there was no reason to believe the disease could be spread among humans, and the authorities cracked down hard on any medical warnings that appeared on social media,” the op-ed, by Ivo Daalder, former US ambassador to NATO, notes.

Responding to the article, Chinese ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi issued a statement. “The Kathmandu Post published an article which, with a picture of malicious intention, deliberately smeared the efforts of the Chinese government and people fighting against the new coronavirus pneumonia and even viciously attacked the political system of China. We hereby express our strong dissatisfaction and firm protest to it,” the statement says.

The statement adds that China is “ready to accept any meaningful suggestions on how to control the spread of the epidemic as soon as possible” but that it firmly opposes “any ulterior motives and even malicious attacks on the political systems”.

The statement also accused the chief editor of The Kathmandu Post, Anup Kaphle, of being “biased” on China-related issues. “It is regrettable that Mr. Anup Kaphle, Chief Editor of The Kathmandu Post has always been biased on China-related issues. This time he went as far as disregarding the facts and becoming a parrot of some anti-China forces and, therefore, his ulterior purpose is destined to failure. The Chinese Embassy in Nepal has made solemn representations to the newspaper and himself and reserves the right of further action,” the statement says.

A group of 17 Nepali editors affiliated with various media houses in Kathmandu on issued a statement criticising the embassy for “accusing the editor” and “threatening him for publishing an opinion or news”.

The statement says, “We respect any individual or organisation’s right to express their dissent or refute contents of the press. But, we disagree with the act of accusing the editor, by mentioning his name, and threatening him for publishing an opinion or news.”

“We would also like to remind the embassy that it breached diplomatic decorum in doing so,” the editors said, adding that Nepal’s constitution has guaranteed full press freedom, and “we are committed to exercising and protecting it”.

China has been putting pressure on media outlets and on Wednesday expelled three Beijing-based correspondents of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), from the country, also because of an opinion piece published in the newspaper’s edit pages. The op-ed, titled ‘China is the real sick man of Asia’ was published on February 3.