Chinese envoy in Nepal courts controversy with apology demand from journalist over X post

Published On: May 29, 2024 12:15 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 29: The Ambassador of China to Nepal, Chen Song, has courted controversy on social media after demanding a public apology from a journalist over an X post. The post claimed that Nepal had taken a loan from China at an interest rate of 5 percent, contrary to earlier reports of 2 percent.

Ambassador Chen sought a public apology, asserting that the information was misleading. This demand came days after journalist Gajendra Budhathoki, an editor at Taksar Magazine, wrote on X on May 27 that the interest rate of the loan Nepal took from China to build the Pokhara Regional International Airport was 5 percent.

“We demand a formal apology from you and whoever you represent,” Ambassador Chen wrote on X. “If you have the document, publish it. If you don’t and need time to find proof, then what kind of intention is this? Spreading lies first, then waiting for the tide to subside, and spreading them again,” he added.

Journalist Budhathoki responded on X, saying, “Do not intimidate me. Know your boundaries, Mr. Chen. I have evidence from the Nepal Government.”

Several journalists and diplomats in Nepal have criticized the Chinese envoy’s remarks, calling them beyond the norms of standard diplomatic conduct.

“It is unusual for a foreign ambassador to demand an apology from a host country journalist for a social media post. He could refute or ask the government to clarify. The foreign ministry should remind the ambassador of the limits of ‘public diplomacy’ and the risks of direct engagement,” former Foreign Secretary and Ambassador Madhu Raman Acharya wrote on X.

Former editor of The Kathmandu Post, Sanjeev Satgainya, also criticized Ambassador Chen. “What @PRCAmbNepal needs to understand is that Nepal is a free country where people are free to have and express their views. The ambassador is also free NOT to like some views, but it doesn’t mean threatening the public on social media like in the case of @gbudhathoki,” he wrote on X.

Former editor of The Himalayan Times, Ajaya Bhadra Khanal, also joined in criticizing Ambassador Chen. “The @PRCAmbNepal could have just said the information is wrong instead of overreacting to @gbudhathoki and threatening him. It just displays the Chinese ambassador's arrogance and his overbearing mentality,” he wrote on X.

Several other journalists and diplomats have also joined in criticizing Ambassador Chen’s move to seek a public apology on the social media platform over the post made by the journalist.


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