Is China exerting emphatic influence in Nepal?


November 20, 2020


Is China exerting emphatic influence in Nepal?

China’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (L) and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.

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KATHMANDU: China has been insistently trying to shape politics in its favor in Nepal of late.

In Kathmandu, as Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi remains busy in patching up differences among the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leaders, Chinese Defense Minister and State Councilor Wei Fenghe makes a visit to Nepal later this month.

That is not all. Minister for Foreign Affairs of China Wang Yi, too, is visiting Nepal in the last week of November, Nepali officials have said.

Observers say that the growing engagement between the China Communist Party NCP signifies northern neighbor’s emphatic influence and micromanagement in Nepal in the name of political stability.

Yi’s Nepal visit is viewed as significant at a time when there has been unprecedented intervention in Nepal’s internal politics by Chinese Ambassador Yanqi.

His visit also coincides with the intra-party dispute in the ruling NCP and the efforts of the Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi to keep the party intact.

However, more than that China seems to create an environment conducive to its interest which means that Beijing is more inclined towards micromanagement in Nepal.

This could be one of the reasons why China is currently endeavoring to avert a split of the NCP.

The imminent visit of Chinese Defense Minister Fenghe and Minister for Foreign Affairs Yi and the flurry of meetings with Nepal’s political leaders also indicate China’s growing footprint in Nepal.

Nepal’s Defense Ministry sources said it almost certain that the Chinese Defense Minister is visiting Nepal in November. However, some official formalities are yet to be made.

It may be noted that Defense Minister Fenghe will be the first high-ranking Chinese official to visit Nepal since Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit in October last year.

General Wei, a former rocket force commander with the Chinese military PLA, is the first of four members of the Central Military Commission chaired by President Xi Jinping.

Likewise, China’s Foreign Minister Yi’s visit is also seen with curiosity at a time when Indian’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla is visiting Nepal on November 26-27.

It also should be recalled that Indian Army Chief Manoj Mukund Naravane, too, visited Nepal to be conferred with the title of the honorary general of the Nepal Army.

The upcoming visits by Chinese ministers come at a time when Nepal and India are looking forward to further strengthen their bilateral ties.

Foreign affairs expert, Shambhu Ram Simkhada, meanwhile, says the visit is not surprising since “it is a reflection of the reality that Nepal is strategically important for both India and China” due to its Central Himalayas Strategic Significance.

“The good part is that it is a reflection that both India and China look at Nepal’s location as of great strategic significance. And the good part of this reality is if we are able to manage our internal affairs, as well as foreign relations effectively, it creates tremendous opportunities for us,” he told Khabarhub.

“If we fail to bring our own house in order and manage relationship with Indian and China, then the danger is that this playground can turn into a battleground,” he adds.

Meanwhile, political analyst and foreign affairs expert, Arun Subedi says, “China wants to keep the ruling NCP intact at any cost and take advantage by increasing its bargaining capacity.”

According to him, China wants to set its foot right in Nepal so that it can influence the political parties and the decisions.

Meanwhile, during his 12 hours stay in Kathmandu, Yi is scheduled to pay visits to President Bidhya Bhandari, Prime Minister KP Oli, and his Nepali counterpart Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, among other leaders.

He is also scheduled to hold meetings with the dignitaries in Nepal in the course of visiting other countries.

Earlier, Wang had visited Nepal on September 8-9 in 2019 at the invitation of his Nepal counterpart Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali.

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