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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Nepal Bans TikTok Amidst Deteriorating Nepal-China Relations

Nepal Takes Strong Measures Against TikTok and Investigates Chinese-Financed Airport

 

INTRODUCTION Nepal Bans Tiktok

In a recent move, the Nepalese government has decided to ban the popular video-sharing app TikTok, owned by China, citing concerns about its negative impact on social harmony. The announcement was made following a Cabinet meeting. Foreign Minister Narayan Prakash Saud said the app would be banned immediately.

“The government has decided to ban TikTok as it was necessary to regulate the use of the social media platform that was disrupting social harmony, goodwill and flow of indecent materials,” Saud said.

In a subsequent press conference, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Rekha Sharma, expressed concurrences with Foreign Minister Saud and said that the ban would be implemented immediately.

Nepal Bans Tiktok
Rakha Sharma, IT Minister, Nepal

 

Sharma emphasized the necessity of regulating TikTok to prevent disruptions to social harmony, goodwill, and the circulation of indecent materials. This decision comes as a response to growing criticism within the country, with reports indicating 1,647 cases of cybercrime related to the video-sharing application over the past four years.

New Rules Nepal Bans Tiktok

The Nepalese government introduced new directives on the operation of social networking in 2023. According to these rules, social media platforms operating in Nepal, including Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube, are required to establish offices in the country within three months. Failure to comply may result in a shutdown, demonstrating Nepal’s commitment to regulating online platforms.

Notably, India had already taken a similar stance in June 2020 by banning TikTok, among other Chinese applications, citing national security concerns. Several other countries, including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Afghanistan, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Norway, have also imposed partial or complete bans on TikTok due to security issues.

The Bone of Contention Nepal Bans Tiktok

The decision to ban TikTok is not the only point of contention between Nepal and China. The Nepalese government has launched an investigation into the construction of its flagship Pokhara International Airport, which was financed by Chinese loans totaling $216 million. The airport, built by China’s CAMC Engineering, has faced challenges in attracting regular international flights, prompting Nepal to request a change in loans to grants to alleviate financial burdens.

The investigation, led by Nepal’s anti-corruption agencies, focuses on allegations of inflated project costs by Chinese state-owned companies, undermining quality control, and prioritizing China’s business interests over Nepal’s. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority has conducted raids on the Pokhara office of the Civil Aviation Authority, seizing documents related to the airport project.

Amidst these developments, China had unilaterally declared Pokhara International Airport as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a move rejected by Nepal, one of the poorest countries in Asia. While the investigation is ongoing, Nepal’s authorities remain committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in projects financed by foreign entities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Nepal’s decision to ban TikTok and investigate the Pokhara International Airport project reflects the country’s commitment to safeguarding social harmony, regulating online platforms, and addressing concerns related to foreign-financed infrastructure projects. These developments underscore the complex dynamics between Nepal and China, encompassing both social media regulation and bilateral economic projects.

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