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Recalling King Birendra: Unforgettable memories

By Prof. Wang Hongwei
maxresdefaultChina and Nepal, the two countries had formerly established diplomatic relationship in 1955, which has already passed 60 years. Though China and Nepal possess different social systems, they have developed outstanding friendly model of 60 years. They among the other countries of the world have glittered radiation which we have reason to feel proud and conceited.
Basically speaking, China-Nepal friendly relationship which has been reached today to this profound level is based on the five principles. China’s side persists “fraternity, honesty, favor and tolerance, within the belief of peripheral diplomacy idea. China constantly looks to Nepal as equal partner (companion) and does not interfere in the domestic affairs. Nepal’s side also promises not to allow using its land as base to oppose the neighboring country and sternly supports China’s policy. Moreover, the top leaders of the two countries during this half century have often met each other mutually. Officials from both sides have also deepened bilateral understanding and have strengthened mutual trust. Thus, both countries have increased friendly relations with mutual agreement to its depth and are moving forward non-stop for further development and progress. Over the past 60 years, no matter how the international wind and cloud have been metamorphosed, China-Nepal relations have been constant. The leaders of Nepal’s side even from the time of Shah dynasty’s King Mahendra, King Birendra, King Gyanendra, Prime MinisterTanka Prasad Acharaya, BP Koirala,KirtinidhiBista, GP Koirala, ManmohanAdhikari and SherBahadurDeuba until today’s republic era’s  presidentRambaranYadav,Prime Minister PushpakamalDahal,Madhab Kumar Nepal,JhalanathKhanal, BaburamBhattrai and SushilKoirala all of them have constantly devoted to maintain, develop and strengthenNepal-China friendly relationship. It is necessary because of our geo-political setting in which the job from Nepal side is also not that much easy. For this reason, I have to express my heartfelt gratitude, respect and admire greatly for the precious contribution that the two sides have made.
King Birendra, who ruled for 30 years, isNepal’s longest ruling leader in present age. He alike other past leaders of Nepal is a man of extremely friendly nature, especially to China. He had successively conducted visits to China for 10 times and consequently leftdeep impressionand memory about him amongst the Chinese people. May be due to a sort of luck to form such feeling of China-Nepal friendship,somehow I came in contact with King Birendra. He was a man of friendly nature,touching, amiable and the movingimage. In fact, I in the year 1993 and 2000 successively two times reached at his reception and the unfolding of the picture (frame) reflects in my eyes from time to time. Being an ordinary Chinese scholar, I came to know that the Chinese people often express their goodwill, love and cordial feeling to that clean hearted king. As a result I am going to recall it with certain significance.
In the beginning of August 1996, I received an invitation from his Excellency Prof. Yubraj S.Pradhan,the Nepalese Ambassadorstationed in China. He had invited me to attend the welcoming ceremony of the King of Nepal, King Birendra along with queen Aishwarya who visited China on 22 September to attend the upcoming conference which made me extremely happy.
Regarding King Birendra, I read some books and periodicals concerning about his history. I got to know that he was born on 28 December, 1945 in Narayanhiti Royal Palace in Kathmandu. In his early years, he had studied at St. Joseph’s College Darjeeling, in 1995, Joined Eaton College of England and later one after another joined Tokyo University and Harvard University to pursue further studies. Such vast study helped him to widen his horizon, to deepen his academic circle and thoughts generously. In 1960 at the age of 15 he along with his father visited England and at 16 again marched to attend the conference of nonaligned countries in Belgrade. At the end of the year 1964, when his study in Eton College was over,he returned to his country, afther that he again went Soviet Union and Iran. As he returned back, being a Crown Prince, in order to understand one’s nation actual conditions, he began to travel each region. The interesting part about him is he, practicing anonymitywalkfrom place to place in disguise and made an anonymous tour of inspection eating farm house meals and sleeping in tiny cabin under a thatched cottage. Sometimes he spent nights in old rural schools, even under the open air and experienced without regarding difficulties and problems.Maybe in order to have such experiences, KingBirendra after the inheritance of throne manifested himself comparativelyclose to common people and their life. That is why people could often find him strolling in various streets of Kathmandu and even the masses of youth welcomed him.
In addition to the populist activities,King Birendra remained active in international affairs too. In 1965, King Birendra led Nepali team of delegation to the Bandung conference to attend the activities of the 10th anniversary where he met Prime Minister Zhou Yin Lai, Indonesian President Sukdrno and other leaders. In the year 1966 around the month of June/July, King Birendra first time visited China and at the conference in Beijing met Chairman Mao Ze Dong.
On 1 January1972 when Birendra’s father,King Mahendrasuddenlydied, King Birendrainherited the throne. One of the most common part in Birendra and his father was about consciousness of strong sense of independent Nepal. However King Birendra was relatively more open. Regarding the foreign policy he preferred implementation where as his father pursued the policy of neutralization. For instance,  King Birendra in one of his statement declared that Nepal is not only a South Asian country but also one of the Asian countries and such ingenuous expression dilutedIndia as it accepted the memory in terms of topographical close adjacent.Consequently, India misunderstood that he could drive away Nepal widely farawaywithin the whimsical desire of development and progress of the country.
However King Birendra’s deeds and conduct reflected himself as a pilot or steersman who could lead the nation independently. He attended numerous affairs almost every day for decades in many countries. His transaction of disposal left people more valuable memory and outstanding achievements. His “innovative measure” and “critical moment of decision,” have made him erecting permanent monument in the heart of Nepali people.
“Innovative measure” refers to the year 1974 in which India annexed Sikkim “Naked Joe” which increased the sense of enough instability in Nepal too. At the junction of his coronation ceremonyon 2 February, 1975, at the presence of distinguished foreign guests,he put forward the proposal of declaring Nepal a “Zone of Peace”.This unique proposal was quickly recognized by China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
By the year 1990,this proposalsuccessively obtained the approval of 116 countries of the world. In fact, such a courageous move doesn’t only safeguard sovereignty, independence and creativity, but plays a conductive and positive role to develop peaceful environment. The peaceful notion at the same time also helped to prevent the attempt of the external forces taking advantage of the Nepalese territory to support Tibetan independence which can proceed towards anti-Chinese activities forming a type of containments in public opinion. “Critical Moment of Decision” refers to 2 February, 1990 in which the Congress Party with left wing (front) launched a campaign, Yan democracy movement where some external force seized the chance and intervened. They privately posed threaten to King Birendra as they were lured by promise of gain, “we can probably protect your kingship but…” King Birendra ignored their unreasonable demand for Nepal’s sovereignty and independence which he flatly refused. Instead the King declared that he would rather go to the people and stood for unwillingness to compromise. He became ready to abolish 28 years long practice and agreed for tribunal system and ultimately handed over the nation’s administrative power to the elected government but never yield to external forces. Such a ruler of generositynever felt awe with his people.
Although, KingBirendra visited China for many times I didn’t get a single opportunity earlier to 1996 to contact him in a close range. Eventually, I got a golden opportunity to catch a glimpse of this scholarly knowledgeable King who had made his thought more open and pragmatic. He remained not only close and popular to the people of Nepal but also to China and its people with his excessive friendly demeanor.
I, accordingto the provision of time, reached the embassy of Nepal,in Beijing and found the reception hall brought together a lot of people. Among them were people from different circles of academic, literature, culture and art. I saw the artists, painters and scholars with Nepalese friendly people and the Chinese former ambassadors to Nepal; altogether around 60 participants in the meeting. Obviously, it was a moment of the Royal couple King Birendra along with Queen Aishwarya’s private visit to China in which they further planned to reachthe embassy of Nepal in China. Although it looked like a small informal gathering, however it sounded lively, auspicious and friendly atmosphere with unbounded enthusiasm. As the Royal couple proceeded to the gathering mass, people whispered “King and Queen are coming!” I too proceeded towards the restroom beside the front of the hall and saw King Birendra with Queen Aishwarya accompanied by the ambassador slowly stepping to the crowd. When the Royal couple approached the people in hall with graceful smile and gesture, people themselves stood in oval shape and welcomed. The Royal couple shook hands enthusiastically and greeted the mass with the words “Namaste” and “Namaskar” continuously. People submitted petitions to His Majesty and some Chinese people offered the gifts of Chinese art and culture reflecting their heartfelt reverence. Time flew moment by moment very fast. “Their Excellency” finally presented themselves in person and arrived before me. The moment of hand shaking I uttered, my name in word by word to take the initiative to the newspaper for which King Birendra went on listening, watching me with his twinkling eyes. Finally I offered a couple of books requesting them to accept kindly. KingBirendra skimmed roughly and turned around with a big smile. He suggested, “Next time when you visit Nepal, come to see me”. I got more hesitation as I had not prepared any information to provide him. However after slightly enhancing my voice, I responded, “Thank you Your Excellency, I will make my great effort to do that.” My inner heart sprung up ringing a warm stream in the cold winter.
Afterwards, for a long time, King Birendra’swords often echoed my ear. I constantly wished to visit Nepal and waited for the appropriate moment to reach Narayanhiti Royal Palace and to meet such a highly deserving King of love. However, the question was how to fulfill this wish? About the year 1999, His ExcellencyRajeshwarAcharya took up the post of the ambassador. He, after assuming the office, asked me for a meeting soon. At the beginning, I addressed him as “Your Excellency”. As we began to meet frequently, he suggested me, “Prof Wang you please do not need to address me with such heavy words ‘Your Excellency’, rather, use the term professor‘which I feel comfortable.” He further said,“In telling you the truth originally I am professor of Tribhuvan University!” I too did not find him any bureaucratic smell, rather realized his easy going attitude. In this way at one blow we eliminated the distance between us and entered in to a friendly academic circle. Slowly, we started to treat each other like old friends in straightforward way.
One day, all of a sudden, Prof Acharya asked me whether I was willing to visit Nepal and immediately liked to embark on journey. He wished from me that after my return, I will write some books introducing Nepal and its overall circumstances focusing to the Chinese readers. The proposal became center of my desire and gave my consensus. In other casual conversations too he insisted me for the development of tourism. He said that the resources of Nepal are limited and only the tourism industry could be developed with great efforts. In this context, if Chinese people understand more about Nepal,naturally in future more Chinese tourist would reach for travel and so on.
Prof Acharya, the moment he assumed the office, started to work tirelessly in order to strengthen China-Nepal relationship through cultural exchange and friendly perspective. He didn’t shrink from hard work and started to rush about all places. Prof Acharya was already aware that according to the rules of Chinese academy of social science, it will not pay any expenses to send me abroad. I later on came to know that in order to promote my visit in Nepal,ProfAcharya had informed the civil aviation administration of Nepal and Hotel Association of Nepal to manage the plane ticket from Shanghai to Kathmandu back and forth, along with a room for daily use during my stay in Kathmandu. Such management had already eliminated the problem of my economic difficulties.     It is through ambassador Acharya’scontinuous supportand cooperation that Nepal’sTribhuvan University and recently founded China Study Center helped me to visit Nepal for three months duration.On Saturday, 2 August, 2000 again I reached Kathmandu after 15 years. The moment I stepped Nepal my destination my heartfelt more delighted. Things were managed well and I hurried up in order to have a further comprehensive understanding of both, and then moved hither and thither. I began to meet the professors and scholars; held discussions with related and concern people; visited library intended departments, especially to buy maps and books, data collection; rushed to consult about some problems with relevant senior experts; so on and so forth.                    On 19 November, 2000 the China Study Center in Kathmandu organized an unprecedented scale seminar on“China-Nepal Relationship Seminar”.  I was entitled to present a keynote speechon “China-Nepal Relationship What Time Is It?”.That speech was focused in Nepal’s authentic national newspaper, The Rising Nepal. Next day the newspaper giving priority to our programme, had elaborated in full page articulating the abstracts in the China Study Centre. The entire discussion which lasted late in the evening was briefly mentioned in the newspaper which Dr. MadanRegmi, chairman of the China Study Center, handed over me next day. In the afternoon, Dr. Regmi gave me a call and said excitedly, “Prof Wang, the secretariat of the Royal family noticed “His Majesty” wants to meet you and has invited 8 O’clock tonight.” The news excited my inner hearts. However, I remained quit in the room and eagerly waiting for the arrival of friends. Very soon, I heard knocking at the door.
Dr. Regmi as an expert about China has been working for many years honestly, is really honor to win “Friendship Award.”  Dr. GovindaBhatta (late)was also a good friend. When old friends meet each other, the heart leaps up and it realizes boundless happiness. As I saw the two friends carrying the wet umbrellas, I guessed that there must be raining outside. Dr. Regmi probably felt little unhappy about the weather and complained to me, “At this moment, we couldn’t get any vehicle,luckily the Royal Palace was nearby.” Without any hesitation, I along with the two old friends became ready to walk accepting that a kind of greatest destiny and encouraged them too, “Enjoy! Let us walk together!” As we left the Hotel, we informallywalked holding hands to hands and arms to arms.  The street towards Royal Palace looked silent; we only three old men humming nameless minor popular tune; dozen umbrella in a fine dazzle and strolling about unhurriedly. Really didn’t have a precious interest. As we entered the main gate and stepped a few steps front,we arrived to the open wide and more spacious avenue where neither poor car shuttled not pedestrians moved.
To approach close to the front door of the Grand Hall, we turned to the west then stepped up to sign. We reached timely and the door of the King’s interview hall was not far. That was the place where I had to part with Dr. Regmi and Dr. Bhatta,the two close friends. After shaking hands with them, when I alone stood watching around, the secretary of the Royal family received me and led to the reception hall of the Imperial Palace. Almost at the same time His Majesty saw me and I stepped ahead facing him. I saw his familiar face still bearing that cordial smile which I realized not only natural but also graceful and generous. I hurriedly rushed in front of him and greeted His Majesty with usual folded hands,  however, he shook hands with me (which I felt unusual rules) and gestured me to take the wooden chair.
Me, with His Majesty sat down and after a moment, I presented to His Majesty the text of statement which I had presented the day before in “China-Nepal Relationship Seminar,” then talked briefly about the recent research in Kathmandu as well as the collected information. I clearly stated “His Majesty” that after returning China I had planned to write a book comprehensively introducing Nepal. His Majesty, after hearing the context, seemed quite interested and nodded repeatedly.
Atmosphere cannot heavily get down. His Majesty was extremely concerned for the economic development of the Nepal. Therefore, subject matter of his talk was focused on economic aspect. He was very much willing to make agreement on economy and trade between China and Nepal, however he wished China side helping for the uplifting the level of Nepalese economy. I responded: “I myself believe that the Chinese authority will try its best and support Nepal. However China itself also one of the developing countries and especially its western part is considerably backward. Moreover, the topographical variation has imposed on restrictions. At present to support and assist for Nepal was probably extremely limited. However, along with development of China’s comprehensive promotion in future definitely enhances greatly.”
Within the process of my talk, His Majesty, so far, I felt, listened carefully and very politely. “However my points were,despite such, we still wish for Chinese side help us more as much as possible.” I realized the problem of the King, attached importance degreethen immediately consoled.
Finally, I had remarked, “I know the difficulties from China’s perspective Majesty’s overall view and I have full sympathy for it. I myself will do the best effort to Your Majesty’s opinion to convey to all the concerning authorities.”
When the meeting was over, I expressed my heartfelt thanks to His Majesty for providing me such a golden opportunity to meet in spite of his busy schedule and ready to bid farewell.Along with the King I too got up and willing to move aside, however, His Majesty, in a sense of reminder, suggested, “In future if you have new publication, I wish you will send me”. Such words made me out of breath and me hurriedly sworn and also made commitments. Finally, I too felt my joy to appreciate such a humble great figure, “Your Majesty very learned, I am afraid my trivial publication probably waste Your Majesty’s precious time.” I still saw the pleasant smile at His Majesty’s appearance which I noticed several times. At last, I slowly stepped away from His Majesty. However,the secretary led me to the outdoor and said,“His Majesty’s words are real and genuine!”
After returning home, I accelerated to sort-out the materials; drafted outline and prepare to write Nepal’s pace. I eagerly wished to dispatch this new offer to the people of Nepal, and respectfully send to King Birendra, but I didn’t have a dream thinking of His Majesty’s such a precious life of lively green incense. In fact, he remained unaware about the certain faces of blocking determined to attend sponsored by the Chinese soon after the first Boaoas BBS meeting. On 1 June, 2001 a thing of completely inhuman and miserable–even his sons and daughters too, no one can enough to survive!
People know, it was through a carefully organized international plan and plot. History is ruthless; all demons and monsters sooner or later total want to show original form.
If King Birendrahappens to hear about today’s Chinese scholar writes concerned abot Nepal, and their works increase greatly, he will realize gratified; when he looks today’s China-Nepal economy and trade agreements which reaches unprecedented lofty, he will feel happy; when he finds today helping more from China’s side to Nepal and multiple incessant and continue rising in future, he will be laughing loudly in the Kingdom of heaven.
(This article was written by Prof Wang on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relation between Nepal and China. But since this article was not published in its original form, it is being republished so that the readers will know how an outstanding Chinese scholar treasures the memory of late King Birendra and his respect for him. Ed)

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