India must rethink attitude toward Nepal’s changing relationship with China

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/3 21:28:39

China is not fighting India for spheres of influence, but China-related topics are still likely to be a major concern during Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's impending India visit, which is scheduled to start on Friday.

Nepal's prime minister usually makes his first overseas visit to India after being inaugurated. Although it seems Oli is following this tradition, his trip is to some extent unusual, given changes in international relations.

In recent years, China has stepped up investment as well as economic aid to the Himalayan nation so as to revive its ailing economy.

With increasingly close economic ties, China-Nepal relations have taken another step forward.

The regional environment has changed, which has prompted New Delhi to rethink its Nepal policy. Many people in India need to break the shackles of their old ideas, under which they see Nepal as a strategic battlefield against China's influence.

India is undoubtedly important for Nepal, but New Delhi will have little chance to win the game against China, if India turns its diplomatic efforts and economic aid into a cut-throat competition against China to force the Himalayan nation to take sides.

India's GDP is about just one-fifth of that of China, so India's economic strength may not be enough to win the contest for Nepal's support.

It's wishful thinking to use Nepal as a strategic barrier to fend off China. New Delhi will make trouble for itself if it tries to set limits on China-Nepal relations and force the Himalayan nation to accept its ideas.

As an emerging country, India is busy with domestic issues to promote economic and social development. It is meaningless to focus on issues such as whether India should outstrip China in terms of economic aid for Nepal. The real question is how Nepal can enjoy benefits from India's economic take-off.

China is striving to open up new trade routes in South and Central Asia by financing infrastructure projects, a move that Nepal has given an active response to. As China builds rail and road infrastructure to push forward the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, Nepal is playing a role in connecting China and India, as well as the wider world.

All countries in the region, India included, will be beneficiaries if new trade routes can be built across Asia. Infrastructure projects in Nepal can serve as a testing ground for India to participate in the B&R initiative to promote regional economic integration.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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