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China Says Beijing Has No Ties With Nepali 'Maoist' Rebels

The Chinese government is criticizing anti-government rebels attacking neighboring Nepal, calling them terrorists. The move is ironic, since the group calls itself "Maoist" after the revolutionary founder of the People's Republic of China.

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao complains that the rebels have "usurped" the name of Mao Zedong, who led China's Communist Party to power in 1949 after years of violent struggle. Mr. Liu said, "China has no relationship or link with any rebel group in Nepal."

Wednesday, China's President Jiang Zemin told Nepal's King Gyaendra that Beijing supports the Nepalese government's effort to crush the rebels. The insurgents want to end the monarchy and set up a one-party Communist state.

Fighting in Nepal between government and insurgent forces has killed about 4,700 people in the past few years. King Gyanendra said he will not allow Nepal to be used as a base to "undermine" China.

About 20,000 people fled to Nepal after an uprising against Chinese rule failed in the neighboring Chinese region of Tibet in 1959. Nepal allowed the Tibetans to stay, but bans any political activity that could hurt its relationship with China. China is a major aid donor and investor in the impoverished nation.

During the king's visit this week the two sides signed agreements designed to boost trade and increase economic cooperation.