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Analysis: Why Chinese Defence Minister Fenghe And Indian Foreign Secretary Shringla Are Visiting Nepal Soon?

Nepal has invited Chinese and Indian top officials for an official visit in the last week of November 2020 to discuss on a host of issues including border, trade and security.
(File: Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe (R) meets with visiting met with visiting Nepalese Chief of Army Staff Purna Chandra Thapa, in Beijing on June 20, 2019. Photo by Li Xiaowei)

By N24 Staff Writer, KATHMANDU:- Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have only a couple of days left to prepare for the two officials’ visits from its northern and southern neighbors in the last week of November 2020. Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe will land in Nepal on Sunday, November 29, 2020, immediately after Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla will complete his two-day official visit to Nepal on Thursday and Friday, November 26-27, 2020.

The almost concurrent visit of Fenghe and Shringla are considered to be meaningful, as Nepal’s relations with both of its neighbors have soured due to border disputes, trade disruptions, and security concerns.

On November 4-6, 2020, Indian Army Chief Manoj Mukund Naravane visited Nepal and he was even conferred with the title of Nepal’s honorary army chief by President Bidya Devi Bhandari.

Earlier on October 21, 2020, India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Samant Kumar Goel visited Nepal to discuss on a host of bilateral issues that were pending for a long.

Last year in August 2019, the Indian Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar visited Nepal in an attempt to improve bilateral relations restrained by the economic blockade and other grave issues.

“During Chinese Defence Minister Fenghe’s visit in November 2020, China will attempt to lure Nepal to develop some sort of defense and security understanding with China, the details of which, though, are still sketchy,” said an analyst, who did not want to be named.

“From Nepal’s side, Nepal will try to persuade China to open trade and imports of goods into Nepal blocked by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

As for Indian Foreign Secretary Shringla’s visit, the visit will focus on border disputes and normalizing Nepal-India relations.

“Nepal will definitely raise the issue of India occupying the Nepalese territories of Limpiadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani. Not only Shringla, but Indian army chief Naravane, RAW chief Goel and Indian external affairs minister Jaishankar have to be able to convince the Indian political leadership that India needs to develop a broader perspective to develop a normal relationship with Nepal,” said the analyst.

“Giving a few square miles of Nepal’s land back to Nepal won’t hurt India’s national interest. Of late, Nepal is emerging as an important buffer state between China and India and India should not commit a mistake by hurting Nepal’s sentiments.”

As for Chinese Defence Minister Fenghe’s visit, analysts point out that the brotherhood between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Nepal Communist Party (NCP) is slowly and dangerously affecting the national interest of Nepal and China is all set to reap the benefit peeping out of it.

“We rarely heard a visit of Chinese defense minister to Nepal before. Because of the unnecessary coziness between CCP and NCP, we are going to see this day as well,” said the analyst.

“China is badly trying to bring Nepal under its security umbrella. If the relations between CCP and NCP keeps going unhindered, China may succeed in what it had been daydreaming for long: bringing Nepal under its security umbrella. Chinese defense minister’s upcoming visit to Nepal could be a preconceived plan of China to materialize its security motive vis-a-vis Nepal,” said the analyst.

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