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Nepal-China Ties: Impact on India



  Aug 25, 2023

Nepal-China Relations: Implications for India


Overview:

Nepal's historical ties with its two giant neighbours, India and China, have always been a balancing act. While India and Nepal have deep-rooted cultural, historical, and socio-economic ties, Nepal's relationship with China has seen a significant boost in recent years. With both India and China looking to strengthen their ties with Nepal, this trilateral dynamic holds broader geopolitical implications.
 

Recent Developments:

Bilateral Military Cooperation: Nepal and China are set to enhance their military cooperation with the resumption of joint military exercises between the Nepalese army and China's People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Major General of the Tibet Military Command of the PLA recently visited Kathmandu to discuss potential engagements. Additionally, Nepalese army officials are to attend China's National Defence Course, highlighting the strengthening of defense ties.
 
Trans-Himalayan Connectivity: China expresses keen interest in establishing a trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity network, aiming to construct high-quality projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, a signature foreign policy and infrastructure initiative of the Chinese government.
 
South China Expo: Nepal was honored as the country of focus at the South China Expo in Kunming. This not only solidifies Nepal's growing economic ties with China but also showcases the strategic importance that China places on Nepal.
 

Implications for India:

Historical Ties vs. New Alliances: India's traditional 'brotherly' relationship with Nepal is being tested by China's increasing influence in Nepal. The frequent military exercises between India and Nepal, known as 'Surya Kiran', signify India's continuing strong defense ties with Nepal. However, the resumption of Nepal-China military engagement presents a changing strategic landscape.
 
Border Security: Given the long and open border between India and Nepal, any significant military cooperation between Nepal and China could have implications for India's border security.
 
Geopolitical Influence: With China's increasing investments in Nepal, especially under the Belt and Road Initiative, India may find its influence in Nepal being challenged.
 
Public Sentiment: Within Nepal, there's a public sentiment that the nation should not be overly dependent on either of its neighbours but should focus on internal development. India needs to recognize this sentiment and approach its relations with Nepal respecting its sovereignty while ensuring its strategic interests.
 

Conclusion:

While Nepal's enhanced cooperation with China is evident, India needs to strategize its approach, respecting Nepal's sovereignty while safeguarding its interests. Balancing ties with Nepal, given its proximity and shared history, remains crucial for India's regional security and influence.


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