DIPLOMACY: Dragon Play

If the recent activities are any indication, Nepalese leaders are being pushed to play with the dragon

June 16, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -1 June 14- 2013 (Jestha 31, 2070)

Although Nepali Congress leader Sushil Koirala was invited to pay an official visit to Beijing about two months ago to meet with new Chinese leaders and discuss issues, Congress leader Koirala is yet to respond to the invitation.

CPN-UML leader Jhalanth Khanal and top leaders like Madhav Kumar Nepal, including second generation leaders, are busy bashing China, opposing the Upper Trishuli 3 A augmentation. Khanal has announced postponement of his visit to China for an indefinite period at the last minute.

UCPN-Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal is the only person to pay visit to China and who then went to India just a few days later. However, he faced severe media criticism from all quarters for his visit to China and India. His proposal for trilateral cooperation was put in the dustbin by India’s foreign minister.  

Nepali Congress leader Koirala and CPN-UML leader Khanal are not alone to postpone their visits to Nepal's northern neighbor. President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav also snubbed the formal invitation to visit Kunming  on the ground he could not meet Chinese president, who was in his tour of United States and other Latin American countries.

Equally important is postponement of high level Chinese state councilor’s visit to Nepal.  Even the Chinese prime minister, who spent a week in India and Pakistan, bypassed Nepal. All these indicate that Nepal-China relations are not going in the right directions at the moment.

In place of president, vice president Paramanand Jha paid a state visit to China. At a time when China is emerging as a super power to compete with America, its presence and influence in Nepal seems to be weakening in a period when communist parties have a strong hold in Nepali politics.

When three major communist parties, UCPN-Maoist, CPN-Maoist and CPN-UML, have greater influence in Nepalese politics, Chinese are facing the most difficult task to invest in Nepal.

At a time when every political leader is snubbing the invitation from the north, Nepali Congress leader and former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba landed in India for his official visit where he met Indian leaders and prime minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and senior officials of External Affairs Ministry including foreign secretary and national security advisor .  Similarly, CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal is likely to visit India next month.

Despite facing turmoils in relations, Chinese ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai said that his country continues to provide support to Nepal. In his interview to Nepali Times, Chinese ambassador Chuntai said, “we are extending the Kathmandu ring-road and constructing dry port in Tatopani with assistance gratis, building Upper Trishuli-3A hydro power project with concessional loans, preparing the construction of Pokhara International Airport and discussing other potential projects with Nepal government. “

Chinese leaders say that they will not let any power to maintain complete hegemony in Nepali politics. Chinese leaders in Beijing recently told a Nepali prominent entrepreneur having good friendly relations with both the neighbors to convey the message to Indians that they don’t have any interest to compete with India in Nepal and what they want from India is to make Nepal stable, unified and prosperous and accommodation of their interest.

Even during the recent meeting of Nepalese vice president Parmanand Jha with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao in Beijing, Chinese leaders were straight forward in their words. “China and Nepal are friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers, and the bilateral relations between the two countries have remained healthy and steady since the establishment of diplomatic ties. China is willing to join hands with Nepal to deepen traditional friendship, enhance mutually beneficial cooperation, expand exchanges in various fields and push forward Comprehensive Partnership of Cooperation featuring everlasting friendship,” said Li.

As Nepal lies in the south of the Himalayas, it is a fact that Nepal’s geography, culture and religious closeness are much closer here than with any country of the world. However, Nepal cannot give up the interest of north entirely.  Even Nepali Congress leader B.P. Koirala pointed the need to maintain good relations with India because geography binds us but he also suggested good relations with China. Those politicians who just rely on India cannot survive in Nepali Politics," writes Koirala in the Book Raja, Rastriyata and Rajniti.

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