Jun 6, 2012

Nepal: China understanding the ground reality?

By Deepak Gajurel,
Associate Professor, Political Science, TU, Nepal

(Courtesy: Telegraphnepal.com)

Nepali politics took a full circle. With the natural and long expected death of the Constituent Assembly, the future of the nation’s polity is in a limbo. The slogan of ‘national consensus’ turned to be an illusion. The political parties, who promised six years ago to make a ‘New Nepal,’ are a complete failure. And the country is in the verge of a political chaos: nobody knows what will happen the next moment!

Nepal’s friends beyond the borders are expressing worries for the current state of domestic affairs. Our immediate neighbors have expressed concerns which has been also shared by the world’s major powers and the world body, the United Nations. It seems that we Nepalis are not alone at the time of this failed course.

Though ‘worries’ have come in the context of the failure of the promulgating a new constitution, with Federal Democratic Republic characteristics, some serious concerns too have emerged. And this is the point where a nationalist Nepali should ponder over with proper care.

One of Nepal’s giant neighbors, China, has expressed serious concern that Nepali soil is being misused by anti-China elements. It is reported in the local media in Kathmandu that Chinese Ambassador has recently cautioned our ‘caretaker’ prime minister that some Christian establishments working in Nepal have been engaged against China’s national interests, creating troubles in Tibet, China’s soft belly.

A few days back, a Chinese professor warned that some foreign forces were trying to split Nepal’s Terai region into semi or complete independent entity. If this happens, the Chinese professor in an interview with the BBC Nepali Service warned strongly, that there will be a heightened danger for Beijing from China’s declared enemies, namely the Dalai Lama.

What does all this mean at a time when Nepal’s political fluidity remains in a dangerous situation?

The signal from the North is clear. Chinese understanding is that the United States, with assistance from India, can play from a weakened Nepali soil and act against the Chinese national security interests.

Thus, Chinese interest in Nepal is to block the penetration of those forces which could pose a serious threat to its national security interests, especially through Tibet.

Nepal's importance has been amplified in terms of regional as well as international power equations. Since the beginning of 'peace process,' Nepal's two giant neighbors - China and India – along with the United States are engaged in activities unmatched in the past. The current imbroglio of political uncertainty is a mere reflection of the power rivalry among these three major powers, that are competing for increased role in the world arena in general, and in this region of the Himalayan Asia, in particular.

And China seems now to have understood this ground reality. Better late than never.

This is the question of survival for our northern neighbor. Nepal is becoming a headache for China for the preservation of its vital national interests.

The end of monarchy in Nepal was a Himalayan blow to the Chinese, as Nepal's Monarchs have traditionally been clocking the entire anti-China activities from Nepali soil. With the advent of, what is being called as, ‘Loktantra’ in 2006, events have proved that ‘Loktantrik’ political setup in Nepal is not going to be friendly for Beijing. Anti-China road-shows are not limited to Kathmandu streets, they have been approached up to Sino-Nepal borders. Such activities were unthinkable while there used to be a monarch in Kathmandu.

This is what Chinese must now have realized. Beijing exhibited its reluctance in coming forward during ‘Jana Andolan-II’ while the monarchy was being sidelined in an undemocratic manner in Nepal. ‘It’s your internal matter and we do not interfere into other’s domestic affairs’ was the Chinese version at that time which more or less remains the same even as of today.

It seems that the Chinese are just as determined as the Indians to see that they have a 'friendly face' at the helm in Kathmandu, someone they can count on to crush the increasing activity of the 'free Tibet' movement from Nepali land.

Chinese interests in Nepal should be analyzed in terms of regional perspective as well. The political changes that took place in this part of the world of late encouraged China to take an aggressive posture. Using the Nepali soil, there have been some noticeable anti-China activities which have increased exponentially over these years, more so after 2006 change. Nepal's soil has been used by anti-China elements.

Anti-China slogans were chanted in the streets of Kathmandu. Both visible and invisible activities were noticed to have gone against China's national interests. Such acts have sensitized the Chinese regime which may have concluded that such acts could in the long run pose a grave threat to its national security, particularly through Tibet.

The Chinese may have concluded that if Nepal become politically instable, the society and government being weaker, the chances of foreign forces entering into Nepali affairs would be high, which eventually would be counterproductive to its own national security. The situation remains intact.

Thus, China is taking such actions in Nepal to confront and counter-balance India and seems to continue to act similarly in other countries in India’s neighborhood, especially in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. In the past, China viewed the monarchy in Nepal as the most stable, credible and dependable partner and the mainstream political parties as pro-India. Chinese security interests, which have been China’s prime concern in Nepal, were served by the King in the past without annoying India.

Telegraphnepal.com, June06, 2012

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