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Is Nepal Falling Into China’s Trap? – OpEd


The news that Government of Nepal has unilaterally altered the border map with India has shocked many people, particularly in India, who wonder why Nepal government has done this.

There may be a strong case for Nepal to alter the map and equally strong case for India for not altering the map. The right and wise approach for Nepal would have been to discuss the issue with Government of India and work out an amicable solution. On the other hand, unilaterally altering the  map that affect another country looks like a war cry.

One wonders whether Nepal government has thought about the long term implications of it’s decision or is it a knee jerk thoughtless action on the part of the Nepal government?

In such circumstances, one cannot but wonder as to why Nepal has done this, as there must be many intelligent persons  in  Nepal Government, who should have known the consequences.

Even a child would think that China, which is now increasingly adopting clever and self-centred strategies to expand its territories, must have encouraged Nepal government to indulge in  such steps to force bad relationship between  Nepal and India and to achieve China’s desire to settle scores with India due to  several reasons.

It is generally said that the present leadership of Government of Nepal have communist orientation. Even if it is so, this would not justify Nepal government acting at the behest of China, since the present Chinese government is not adopting any principles of communism and most of its actions are capitalist oriented and it is communist government in China only in name.  As a matter of fact, by its economic and industrial policies, the Chinese government is undermining the principles of communism.

Nepal has many cultural and traditional relationship with India and its way of life and it has nothing to gain by causing friction with India.

Some may  go to the extent of saying that the decision of the Nepal government to unilaterally change the map and create friction with India is an extremely unwise step and some may even call it as an insane act.

It is now well recognized all over the world that China has territorial expansionist ambitions and countries like Nepal and Pakistan can become easy prey to China. Pakistan already appears to have become an extended territory of China for all practical purposes and there is no way that Pakistan can move out of the grip of China in the foreseeable future. Why Nepal government is not conscious about this situation faced by Pakistan?

One cannot be blamed if he would fear that Nepal too may get into debt trap with China and may face extremely difficult conditions due to this in future.

Government of Nepal has signed agreements worth $ 2.4 billion with China for several infrastructure and energy projects.

The projects include the proposal to build railway line through Himalayas. The railway line will link the Tibetan border town of Kerung with Kathmandu and Government of Nepal expects that it will promote huge earnings through tourism in Nepal. It is estimated that 72.25 Km. railway line from Chinese border to Kathmandu would cost $ 2.25 billion.

Obviously, the railway line would be designed and built by China based companies and Government of Nepal would not even be able to negotiate the contract price   and terms with the Chinese companies for executing the project.  Business and industries in China would hugely get benefited  in the process, at Nepal’s cost.

While the Chinese government would “liberally” provide credit and loan to government to Nepal for executing the project, the question is whether Government of Nepal would be able to pay back the debt in the foreseeable future.

Several countries like Laos, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan are facing huge  debt trap with China and it is surprising that Government of Nepal has not learnt a lesson or two from  experience of these debt ridden countries, that have developed industrial infrastructure dealings with China.

By altering the map with India in a unilateral way, Nepal appears to be getting closer to China  at the cost of relationship with India, which can prove counter productive for Nepal in the short and long term. 

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N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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