Nepal Under China’s Umbrella

Image source: Belt and Road News

Nepal recently approved an altered map of its territory, which included three wrangled areas with its giant neighbour country. The reviewing of the map covers a small region but it has led to the arena of tension between two powerful countries, Indian and China.

Nepal which is basically situated between the two countries have protested and denounced its old friend India of disregarding the country’s sovereignty. Leaving India’s relation with Nepal a bit trampled which seems to be getting deteriorated over the period of time. The tension was triggered by a revised map put out by Indian govt showing disputed areas as India’s territory.

At worst, Indian and China are already locked in a military standoff in northern Ladakh region of the disputed territory of Kashmir, where both country’s troops are facing off for weeks which has worsened the relations between the two countries as a major ramification of 20 Indian soldiers getting martyred a week ago. Leading to a massive protest across India and call for boycotting Chinese goods.

Media and some officials in India have accused china of instigating the changes to Nepal’s map, a charge to which China has not responded yet.

Image source: Pinterest

How important is Nepal?

As a landlocked nation, Nepal depended itself on Indian imports, and India played a major role in Nepal’s affairs. But recently Nepal has been carried away from Indian sway, and china has filled that left vacuum, offering loans and aids to bring Nepal under its umbrella.

China looks at Nepal as a key partner in its belt and road initiative and considers it as an opportunity for its grand plans to boost global trade. To strengthen the ties between two nations, Chinese president Xi Jinping became the first leader to visit Nepal since Jiang Zemin in 1996.

For India, the Lipulekh pass has security involvement. After its disastrous 1962 border war with its neighbouring country China, it was concerned about a possible Chinese encroachment and has been keen to hold on to the strategic route to guards against any future incursions. The pass has become a point of discord since.

In May this year, Sh. Rajnath Singh Defence Minister of India inaugurated an upgraded road on the pass to deal with the distance and to help Hindu pilgrims that use it. But this move instigated the diplomatic spat with Nepal, which led to a protest calling Indian to remove its soldiers from the pass last month.

Has China been intruding?

In the ongoing dispute, the Nepalese government has accused Indian foreign ministry of not accentuating on the issues. The intuitions of the Indian government are that newly acquired confidence by Nepal is backed by Chinese which considers India as a major rival.

The Indian Army Chief, General MM Naravane made the public statement that Nepal might have raised this problem at the behest of someone else- an indirect reference to alleged Chinese interference. But the remarks didn’t go down well in Kathmandu.

Though India has been focused on tackling the pandemic in recent months, it has been battling on different fronts. Because India could not afford to lose a strategic territory bordering China. Keeping in mind that both the sides are in for a long haul. The situation is very crucial because if Delhi hardens its attitude and attempts to gain more influence in Nepal, it is likely to stir more anti-India feeling.

Nepal is likely to get more benefited if it steers the India china rivalry to its advantage, but it also risks getting caught in the middle of the Asian power game. Nepal for a long time has been the closest ally of India but now with china’s rise, they have an opportunity. The question is whether Nepal can balance its relations between India and China.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Aditya Mishra

Aditya Mishra is pursuing Masters in International Relations at Amity Institute of International Relations (AIIS), Noida, India

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