At least 800 Chinese nationals are under watch in KathmanduThe revelation follows the arrest of 122 Chinese nationals on Monday in a joint Nepal-China operation.
Anil Giri & Shuvam Dhungana
A day after a massive crackdown on Chinese nationals that saw 122 individuals arrests on suspicion of involvement in illegal activity, senior government officials said on Tuesday that they were looking at multiple angles to ascertain the nature and extent of their crimes, if any.
According to officials, at least 800 other Chinese nationals living in Nepal are being watched by the government.
Monday’s crackdown, part of a joint Nepal-China operation, was the biggest single-day arrest of individuals from any foreign country in Nepal. It was part of an initiative launched as per the Interpol’s request. There were no more arrests on Tuesday.
The Kathmandu District Administration Office on Tuesday authorised the Nepal Police to take all the 122 Chinese nationals into custody for five days for further investigation.
At least two senior security officials told the Post that investigating authorities are looking into the various criminal activities the Chinese nationals could have committed while in the country.
“We are investigating if they were involved in breaking cyber law, breaching digital networking systems, online gambling and money laundering,” a security official told the Post on condition of anonymity. “We are also trying to ascertain whether crimes were committed on Nepali soil or they were just using Nepal and Nepali cyberspace to commit crimes somewhere else.”
Beijing on Tuesday said that the arrest of 122 Chinese nationals was part of a joint effort of the police from Nepal and China.
“According to the information I have, the arrested individuals [in Nepal] were suspected to be engaged in cross-border cyber fraud activities,” said Geng Shuang, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a press meet in Beijing on Tuesday, according to a statement by China’s Foreign Ministry. “Related cases are currently under investigation.”
According to Nepali officials, some may have been staying illegally or doing business in Nepal despite holding tourist visa.
Officials told the Post that they had been closely watching the Chinese nationals in question for the last two months in various parts of Kathmandu.
According to Inspector General Sarbendra Khanal, chief of the Nepal Police, Interpol offices from different countries suspected the involvement of Chinese nationals in cross-border crimes.
“A number of Chinese nationals have been found to be involved in various crimes, including ATM hacking in Nepal,” Khanal told the Post. “Accordingly, based on some Chinese nationals’ involvement in crimes and alerts from Interpol, we launched an investigation, which was coordinated with the Chinese Embassy in Nepal.”
Officials said how the cases against the arrested will move forward depends on the outcome of investigation and interrogation.
“If they are found to be involved in any illegal activity in Nepal, they will be charged as per the law of the land,” said Senior Superintendent Uttam Raj Subedi, chief of the Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range. “If they have not committed any crime in Nepal, we will inform the government. The government will most likely deport them.”
Nepal and China have not signed an extradition treaty, but during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Nepal in October, the two countries signed a Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters. As per the pact, Nepal will hand over Chinese nationals to the Chinese authorities if they have breached Nepali laws—like overstaying or doing business while on a tourist visa—but have not committed any crime in Nepali land.
After completing the investigation process, the Nepal Police, according to another official who also spoke on condition of anonymity, will forward its recommendations to the Home Ministry.
Ishwar Raj Poudel, director general of the Department of Immigration, said his office will act after the Nepal Police ascertains the nature of charges and the crimes the arrested foreigners are supposed to have committed.
“We will follow what the Home Ministry says,” Poudel told the Post. “If someone is found not involved in crime but has broken some laws, they will be deported.”