Nepal in recent years has increased its closeness to China. During last year’s constitutional crisis, China has taken advantage of anti-India feeling among Nepalese government and citizens and has moved close to China.
List of important agreements/MOUs:
- The agreement on transit through China where China has agreed to provide the Tianjin seaport for transit of Nepali goods imported from third countries.
- The proposal on connectivity of Nepal with the Tibet rail network.
- Agreement on Economic and Technical support to implement Pokhara Regional International Airport Project.
- China has agreed to upgrade two road links between Nepal and Tibet, agreed to extend the Chinese railway to Kathmandu and then to Lumbini.
- China has given its nod to a long-term commercial oil deal.
- China has also agreed to build oil storage facilities for Nepal
- Nepal has struck a major deal with China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) for developing a 1,200 MW Budhigandaki Hydroelectric Project, which will be the biggest hydro project in Nepal
- Nepal has started accessing internet from China. The commercial operation of Chinese bandwidth project now ends Nepal’s sole dependence on India for internet bandwidth. It is considered as loss for India, both revenue wise and strategically.
- The government in Kathmandu has concluded an agreement with China to gain access to Chinese ports, including Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang.
- Nepalese goods will also have access to dry ports at Lanzhou, Lhasa and Xigatse.
Should India be afraid of China’s closeness with Nepal?
- Chinese mainland and ports are 3,000 km away, as compared to 1,000 km to Kolkata. Economically not viable to export via China.
- Open Nepal-India border is a prize of shared history to be nurtured by both countries
- In socio-political terms, Kathmandu’s civil society enjoys a comfort zone with India that the taciturn Chinese state cannot match
But, India should be cautious because:
- The arrival of Qingzang Railway from the Chinese mainland to the Tibetan plateau in 2006 has been the game changer, and the line has already been extended to Shigatse town and is ploughing westward and closer to Nepal’s border points
- The railway makes the transfer of goods from the mainland economically feasible in a way that had never before been contemplated
- The first joint military exercise of the seven member countries of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) was conducted in Pune.
- The aim of the exercise is to practice the BIMSTEC Nations in planning and conduct of counter-terrorist operations.
- Nepal pulled out of MILEX at last moment on the other hand Nepalese army is preparing to leave for a 12-day military exercise with China in Chengdu.