China should offer more generous aid to Nepal amid Sino-Indian border dispute

By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/14 22:48:39

Wang’s visit puts Nepal in spotlight amid Sino-Indian border dispute, trade friction

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang's official visit to Nepal, which runs from Monday to Thursday, has put the Himalayan country under the spotlight, given the ongoing border standoff between China and India.

While Wang's visit will reportedly focus on China-sponsored infrastructure projects, the timing speaks for itself. The border dispute with India has highlighted the necessity for China to accelerate investment and economic aid to Nepal.

Nepal has told its embassies in New Delhi and Beijing that it will maintain an independent and neutral position on its neighbors' standoff, and it will not be influenced by either China or India, according to media reports. For a landlocked country that shares a long open border with India and depends heavily on India for imports and exports, Nepal's stance clearly shows its intention of counterbalancing Indian influence. That stance also reflects China's diplomatic efforts in recent years.

With an eye on the rising geopolitical significance of Nepal in the region, China has been strengthening ties with that country in recent years, mainly through infrastructure investment.

For instance, in March this year, China committed foreign direct investment of $8.2 billion to the Himalayan country out of total pledges of $13.52 billion received at the Nepal Investment Summit, a report from the Xinhua News Agency said. The Chinese pledges overshadowed India's commitment of $317 million at the same event.

In May, China and Nepal signed an agreement under the Belt and Road initiative to promote cooperation in infrastructure connectivity. There have also been media reports about feasibility studies for a railway connecting Kathmandu to Lhasa, with an estimated cost of $8 billion.

But infrastructure investment alone is not enough for China to maintain a close relationship with Nepal, one of the world's poorest countries. It is essential for China to further increase investment as well as economic aid to the country so as to revive its ailing economy. Such aid could include but not be limited to financial incentives, education, medical assistance and workforce training.

In addition, Nepal, which borders Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, has played an important role in guarding against Tibetan separatists.

There is every reason for China to offer more generous aid to such a small but important neighbor.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.
Newspaper headline: Wang’s visit puts Nepal in spotlight amid Sino-Indian border dispute, trade friction


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