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China Vs. India: Is Nepal Paying Cost for Ignoring Friendship With The US?

As for the US, Nepal still needs the friendship of this global power to balance relations between its northern neighbor China and southern neighbor India. Chinese and Indian bullies can be tamed only through the exchange of cooperation between Nepal and the US governments through formal and informal channels. It does not mean forming of any military alliance though. Nepal and US have already established multiple channels of cooperation and only their proper mobilization would be enough to get the desired results in bilateral cooperation.

By N24 Correspondent, KATHMANDU:- Good or bad, Nepal has entered into a new political discourse on Sunday, December 20, 2020, since the day Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has announced the new parliamentary election in April-May 2021, dissolving the House of Representatives.

Amid all political stakeholders exposed in a new political development, China and India, too, have been exposed with their game plans in Nepal.

After signing a trade and transit treaty with China, PM Oli thought that China would support him perpetually, but that was not the case. China wanted to continue with Oli government but only after turning him weak inside the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and without splitting the party. China was terrified to see PM Oli growing stronger and wanted to do something that would decrease his influence in all state mechanism.

Having known China’s intentions, PM Oli then turned to India. Two way dialogues were also held with the exchanges of some high level visits. As India could not get things done by force, it pampered and motivated PM Oli to take some steps that would shape up a new political turn in Nepal.

As of now, pro-monarchy and pro-Hindu forces are protesting in the street, violent Biplav group is raising its ugly head, while Madhes centric political parties are preparing for agitation. Above all, Oli government is now a caretaker government only. These all developments are favorable for India to control and dictate power dynamics in Nepal. India has not yet officially welcomed Nepal’s constitution and it may be a good opportunity for India to launch a bargain for a course correction, or giving more voice to Madhes.

A politics of confrontation is going to begin in Nepal but it may be averted for 6-7 months if two things happen now – the Supreme Court validating the move of PM Oli to dissolve the Lower House as the prerogative of a prime minister in a parliamentary system, and the Election Commission assigning election symbol “sun” and the recognition of the main NCP party to the group led by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”.

If anyone of these two decisions are not made, it is very much likely that Nepal would plunge into the vortex of instability one after another and the constitution itself turning into a failure.

To please India and China, Nepal did not implement the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) development compact, which was very much in Nepal’s national and foreign policy interest. The American project aimed at balancing Chinese and Indian vested interests in Nepal and would be the right thing to do for Nepal.

China did not want the MCC in Nepal as it was offering zero percent interest rate compared to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)’s 24 percent interest rate. Plus, all amount was an assistance with no need to pay back. All Nepal had to do was to commit to spend the money transparently and without corruption.

India, too, did not want the MCC be implemented in Nepal. India could not be vocal on this but Indian motive was not hidden from any side. India would also charge high interest rate on Nepal’s development projects and wanted the MCC to get diverted, so that India would continue to charge high interest rate to Nepal.

Now that Indian and Chinese interests are matching up in Nepal to kick out the US projects from here, it would not be a surprise if India and China sign a peace treaty on the disputed Nepalese territories of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiadhura, thus ignoring Nepal’s national interest.

As for the US, Nepal still needs the friendship of this global power to balance relations between its northern neighbor China and southern neighbor India. Chinese and Indian bullies can be tamed only through the exchange of cooperation between Nepal and the US governments through formal and informal channels.

It does not mean forming of any military alliance though. Nepal and US have already established multiple channels of cooperation and only their proper mobilization would be enough to get the desired results in bilateral cooperation.

Nepal is an important sovereign state lying between China and India and to be precise, lying between Tibet and five provinces of India. The US may have some partnerships with India but the US should never leave Nepal at India’s mercy. Nepal has its own dynamics to play a role of a global partner to the US-Britain alliance. Due to Nepal’s non-aligned policies, Nepal may not openly support a military alliance but Nepal can very productive and cooperative in many other ways, which Nepal has been proving time and again.

As for now, it would be too early to take the MCC out of the menu. All efforts should be made to implement the MCC in Nepal, as it has the power to prevent the filthy games of India and China in Nepal by balancing their wild ambitions.

After the political development of Sunday, December 20, 2020, Nepal’s situation now looks like a peaceful environment before the arrival of a huge hurricane and PM Oli is also getting ready with his second option, too. In case the Election Commission does not provide PM Oli’s group the election symbol of “sun” and the recognition of the main party, he is preparing to face the election with the name of the old party before unity — the CPN (UML).

Chief opposition Nepali Congress is still not in a position to influence the political developments until it grows in size through the election, and so far, its all about its powerful president Sher Bahadur Deuba.

If nothing happens as per the calculations of the political pundits and an emergency and presidential rule is declared in Nepal, the country will plunge into more crisis – more than it is facing right now. At that time, Nepal’s cunning neighbors India or China may be able to convince Nepal to sign a pact similar to the previous 12-point agreement and have more sway in Nepal’s politics. Even at that time, what Nepal would need the most is its friendship with the US and Britain, which can save Nepal from the crooked motives and intentions of its immediate neighbors India and China.

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