By Jyoti Dhakal, KATHMANDU:- China is using all its diplomatic and undiplomatic channels to pressure Nepal not to implement the already signed Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) project of the United States, according to highly placed government sources in Nepal.
“The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu and its Ambassador to Nepal, Ms. Hou Yanqi have been threatening the incumbent government of a regime change, if the government implements the MCC project,” said the highly placed sources.
“Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping telephoned Nepalese President Ms. Bidya Devi Bhandari and asked her not to implement the MCC. Likewise, the Chinese Embassy in Nepal and its Ambassador distributed money to more than one dozen journalists and asked them to write against MCC and the US. Similarly, a number of not-for-profit organizations were paid money by the Chinese Embassy to protest on the street against the MCC and the US. Former Maoist cadres were involved in those protests,” said the sources.
The sources, who are also the experts on Nepal’s foreign affairs, stressed that there are chiefly five factors that are driving China towards an obstruction to the MCC project.
First of all, the MCC project will end China’s atrocity towards the Tibetans, who flee Tibet, but are chased by the Chinese forces and are killed even in Nepal.
Second, Nepal does not have to pay the subsidy to be given under the MCC project, whereas China charges 21 percent interest on the loan assistance given to Nepal.
Third, with the presence of MCC project, China’s dream of converting Nepal into North Korea will just fade away.
Fourth, China will lose the privilege of directly interfering in Nepal’s domestic affairs, once the MCC project comes into being.
Fifth, China and North Korea can no more use the North Korean Embassy in Nepal to hack US government’s data.
“In these circumstances, it is very rare for China to welcome an American project like MCC in Nepal,” the sources said.
China is personally contacting senior leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) to stand up against the MCC project.
However, Prime Minister Mr. KP Sharma Oli has, time and again, reiterated that the MCC project will be implemented in Nepal, as there is no military component in this $ 500 million development project that aims to work on electricity transmission lines and the road improvements.
The MCC project has effectively banned spending money for military purpose and thus there is no question of a military intervention in Nepal, which is touted by the far left group of the ruling NCP party.
In the meantime, Finance Minister, Mr. Yubaraj Khatiwada has placed the MCC project in his budget speech, thus drawing angst from the pro-China factions within his ruling party.
“We cannot cancel the US-Nepal MCC Project, as it only gives a bad impression to the development projects spearheaded by the international community,” Mr. Khatiwada said.
According to former government secretary Rameshwor Khanal, there is nothing in the MCC compact for an opposition from the pro-China lobbies.
“It is not essential for a country implementing the MCC project to abide by the US security and economic policy. But it is essential for that particular country only to make sure that the sale or use of property created or associated with the MCC project should not violate the US security and economic policy,” Mr. Khanal said.
Nepal and the US signed the MCC project in 2017 and the parliament has to endorse it by June 30 for an implementation, only if the deadline is not further extended.
Main opposition party Nepali Congress supports the MCC project, while the far left group of the ruling NCP led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, Jhalanath Khanal and Bhim Rawal, among other leaders, have been protesting against the MCC.
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