Is PM Oli rushing Nepal down a slippery slope?

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Is PM Oli rushing Nepal down a slippery slope?
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It would appear to be so from Prime Minister KP Oli’s actions to whip up anti-India hysteria. What does he hope to achieve from it?

Continuation as prime minister at all costs regardless of consequences for Nepal and its people. Are the politicians and people not aware as to what those consequences could be?

They do not have to look far. Sri Lanka is up to its neck in debt to China. So much so that it was obliged to cede sovereignty over its territory to its debtor by handing over the Port of Hambantota to the latter for 99 years.

Closer to Nepal is the case of Pakistan the only all-weather friend and ally of China in the world. Very early it felt obliged to cede territory in the Northern Areas of Jammu & Kashmir (territory claimed by India) to China in the Shaksgam Valley.

Thereafter under the guise of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) China is in the occupation of Gilgit and Baltistan through which the Karakoram Highway runs.

There is talk that heavily indebted African countries are collectively considering that unless the interest payment on their debt is brought down to 1 percent or less they would have no option but to expel Chinese people and take-over all assets in their countries.

Approximately 10-15000 troops and workers are reported to be positioned there permanently. That is not all. China is paying the Pakistan Army for a division in Baluchistan tasked to kill Pakistani people, the Baluchs protesting the corridor.

Examples of this nature are multiplying all over the world. There is talk that heavily indebted African countries are collectively considering that unless the interest payment on their debt is brought down to 1 percent or less they would have no option but to expel Chinese people and take-over all assets in their countries.

Unrest and protests in Central Asian Republics are growing with each passing day as the BRI networks passing through their countries have become nonviable with the onset of the coronavirus. With the absence of demand from Western countries the networks are falling into disuse.

The problems that Italy is facing due to its over-dependence on China and the influx of 300, 000 Chinese has alarmed Europe and the world.

Earlier Greece was obliged to cede sovereignty over Piraeus the port of Athens to meet its debt obligations. The litany is endless.

Unless the press in Kathmandu is not reporting it, people should be aware that the US, countries in Europe and Australia plan to sue China for several trillion dollars for keeping news of the spread of the Coronavirus from the world for several weeks leading to lack of preparedness and several million avoidable deaths.

Japan is offering over 2 billion dollars to its companies to up stick form China and relocate. Many other countries have followed suit.

Except for short periods of tension Nepal has prospered from its open borders with India and the cheap import of goods and services when compared to all other alternatives.

China’s economy has started to shrink significantly as well. There is growing internal questioning and unrest on the lapses in reporting that took place in Wuhan and the silencing of whistleblowers in the early stages of the spread of the contagion.

Xi Jinping has mounted a major counteroffensive within China and abroad to cover up his mishandling or misreading of the gravity of the situation. Nevertheless the internal murmuring and dissent are bound to increase in the coming days.

With China’s increasing isolation, declining economy, indigenization of supply chains in the country after another including India and boycott of Chinese goods where does Nepal stand? Burning its bridges with India who will the people of Nepal turn to?

Western countries that were traditional well-wishers of Nepal and sending the maximum tourists are watching carefully Mr. Oli’s increasing alienation of India and closeness to China at the cost of the former.

Japan too will most likely take its cue from India. Except for short periods of tension Nepal has prospered from its open borders with India and the cheap import of goods and services when compared to all other alternatives.

Were Indian supply lines not to be available for landlocked Nepal, after it decides to go the Oli way and puts all its eggs in the China basket, the cost of using Chinese ports in the South China Sea and import of fuel on the overland route via Tibet would beggar Nepalese people for generations. Oli would be given comfortable lodgings and pension in Beijing for the rest of his life.

Not to forget that China has started claiming all of Mt. Everest as part of Tibet.

(Major General Vinod Saighal is a retired Indian Army Officer, and Executive Director of Eco Monitors Society)

(Views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Khabarhub’s editorial stance).

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