By Ai Jun
Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Sunday embarked on a week-long visit to China. Yet apart from expectations from both Beijing and Kathmandu on potential landmark agreements over border trade, fuel supply and various infrastructure-related projects between the two, concerns have been triggered in Indian media.
A number of Indian media outlets argued that Kathmandu's effort to improve relations with Beijing was aimed at counterbalancing the influence of India and "weaning the country off its dependence on New Delhi." What's more, there are arguments on India's Internet saying that Modi has lost Nepal.
New Delhi is now showing how difficult it is to imagine China replacing its influence in Kathmandu. But Beijing has never asked Nepal to side with it. In the meantime, Oli has also publicly announced that his country is not playing the "China card" against India.
New Delhi should wake up to the fact that Nepal is a sovereign country, not a vassal of India.
Even though India tends to consider China as a geopolitical rival, and there are still border disputes between the two countries, dealing with those puzzles should not come at the cost of Nepal's interests. Kathmandu has the right to choose the development partners that maximize its national interests.
Meanwhile, Beijing has long been devoting itself to strengthening connectivity in the region.
Given the China-led "Belt and Road" initiative, it is very likely that the rail and highway network in the region will be strengthened in the years to come. Especially under the framework of China's 13th Five-Year Plan for 2016-20, the Tibet Autonomous Region will be more open to the world. The opening-up and development of the area will create a growing number of opportunities for cooperation between China's Tibet area and Nepal as well as the region and India.
Nepal is now looking forward to an airport loan agreement with China. According to The Himalayan Times, the nation is in need of $216 million for a new airport near Pokhara, as the existing one can only handle very few aircraft.
Against such a backdrop, there is a need to stop these suspicions. Cooperation will not only help New Delhi intensify its ties with Kathmandu, but will also be rewarding for stability and development in India's northeastern states.
Sandwiched between the two giant neighbors, keeping good relationships with both China and India is the only sound choice for Kathmandu, as well as for regional harmony. Therefore, instead of being forced into becoming a strategic barrier against China, Nepal should be better treated and act as a bridge between Beijing and New Delhi.
Source: Global Times