Nepal: Inviting The Dragon In

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by Daredevil, Jul 16, 2009.

  1. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Nepal: Inviting The Dragon In

    By Bhaskar Roy

    Some very dangerous thoughts have recently been articulated by senior Nepalese journalist and political activist, N.P. Upadhyaya in an article in The Telegraph, Nepal. Mr. Upadhyaya’s central theme is that India and the United States were sabotaging China from Nepalese soil to try and break up Tibet from China, and China could retaliate militarily in Nepal, if pushed too far.

    Quoting unnamed highly placed Nepalese Foreign Ministry sources, Upadhyaya says that the Chinese Ambassador, just before leaving for Beijing last week for consultations, hinted to the Nepalese authorities that thousands of PLA soldiers have already been put on high alert and may soon be deployed on the Nepal-China (Tibet) border.

    Of course, the Chinese Ambassador in Nepal, Qiu Guohong, met top Nepalese leaders including Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala to protect and seek clarification regarding the Nepali government’s position on the meeting of six Constituent Assembly (CA) members with the Dalai Lama, earlier in July. That these CA members from the Tharu and Madhesi communities announced there will be more visits to the Tibetan leaders in Dharamsala, has angered the Chinese and their anti-India Nepali friends even more. Upadhyaya speculates that China would have to take a “very bold decision to treat and tame (emphasis added) Indo-dependent (sic) Nepal in order to safeguard its underbelly – Tibet”, to quell the deliberate onslaught, coming as it does from various political quarters, both domestic and international. Upadhyaya suggests that a Chinese blockade of Nepal’s northern border could bring economic disaster to Nepal; certainly, Upadhyaya forgot to take into calculation that if the Chinese army invaded Nepal’s Southern border on which the country depends for most of its trade and import, will remain open?

    From their perspective, the Chinese authorities have a serious problem with the exiled Tibetan religious leader, the 14th Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama and the majority of the Tibetan exiles are struggling peacefully for at least real autonomy for Tibet, as guaranteed under the Chinese constitution. China is aware that the Indian government has yet kept the Tibetan diaspora under much greater control than elsewhere in the world. But they are much more concerned about the US role, which they perceive as aimed to keep China’s restive minority regions, boiling, if not dislodge them from China.

    Traditionally, the Tibetans had a respected place in Nepal. Tibetans travel both clandestinely and with legal permits from Tibet through Nepal to Dharamsala to meet the Dalai Lama. But China sees anti-
    Chinese protests by Tibetan exiles in Nepal as a serious threat to China’s territorial integrity. Erstwhile King Gyanendra cooperated, under Chinese pressure from 2002 to put down the Tibetans. But the Lhasa riots in March, last year greatly disturbed the Chinese. They saw Nepal as the main conduit for fomenting trouble by the Dalai Lama in Tibet, and are determined to sanitise Nepal of Tibetans.

    The Chinese contention is that world government leaders must not meet the Dalai Lama as such meetings encourage him to try and split China. Using their economic and trade power, the Chinese brought down relations with France a notch this year. But world leaders get around and the Dalai Lama is welcome.

    The latest problems arose with the six CA leaders meeting the Dalai Lama and vowing to send more such delegations to Dharamsala. China pressures Nepal because it can. US congressmen regularly meet the Tibetan leader, and US Presidents are legend for their “drop by” meetings with the Dalai Lama in the White House.

    Despite transforming Nepal from a Hindu country to a Republican system under the Maoist demands last year, the overwhelming Nepalese are religious. And the Dalai Lama is as respected as a famous Hindu seer. It will, therefore, be difficult for China and Nepal’s hard line Maoists to turn the people away from the Dalai Lama.

    China’s boast of minority harmony and its Tibetan population’s commitment to the communist government was badly damaged by last year’s Lhasa protests. It is said that the name of the Dalai Lama is written on the hearts of all Tibetans, including those working for the Chinese government. In the course of last year’s Lhasa disturbance, a very senior Tibetan leader with the Lhasa government was dismissed for his sympathy for the Dalai Lama. The recent protests by minority Muslim Uighurs in China’s western Xinjiang region has further raised China’s concerns, and made the Chinese unnerved perhaps for the first time.

    China’s interest in Nepal is part of its “India containment” policy. Most recently, visiting Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir advised chosen Nepali leaders to form a Nepal-China-Pakistan trilateral alliance and Nepal should enter into a relationship with Beijing. Obviously, the Maoist hardliners are delighted with this proposal and Upadhyaya hints in this direction. China had no connection with the fall of King Gyanendra in 2006, much as they had denied any links with Maoists before that event. With quick ascendency of the Maoists or the CPN (M) the Chinese leaders could not hide their elation at having penetrated Nepal strategically to counter India.

    Maoist Prime Minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal made his first foreign visit to China, breaking with the India visit tradition. On his return, however, he said that his government would not play strategic games between India and China, and also tried to signal that the visit was not an official Prime Ministerial visit.

    In contrast, Prachanda’s Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal followed immediately with a visit to China in the last week of September, 2008. On his return, an elated Thapa revealed that the Chinese had offered to help build the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA-M), and reiterated their commitment to safeguard Nepal’s territorial integrity.

    A number of senior Chinese officials, including their Ambassador in Nepal, voiced their commitment to safeguard Nepal’s territorial integrity. A senior Chinese academic who is also an advisor to the Chinese government, Prof. Wang Hong Wei alleged that China was fully aware of India’s plans to “Sikkimise” Nepal, and will never allow it, even if Nepal entered that process. This statement to the Nepalese newspaper The Kantipur, came out in June 2008.

    Three aspects are notable. One, all these politicised statements by the Chinese were made in Kathmandu, emphasising China’s position in Nepal. Second, Prof. Wang, who speaks on authority, conveyed a much more serious policy, that is, China will not allow Nepalese leaders to take their country into India’s sphere of influence. Third, in offering the Nepalese Maoist army support and assistance, China was actually helping an illegal army to develop. This would suggest the Chinese government and the CCP continues with its Maoist policy of supporting revolutionary armed uprising whenever the opportunity presents itself.

    It would be pertinent to note that Upadhyaya’s article reflects the views of the Chinese and the hard liners in the CPN (M) now United CPN (M), led by Mohan Vaidya Kiran, Ram Bahadur Thapa and others.

    Following the withdrawal of the Maoists from the government in the midst of controversial decisions including attempt at removing army Chief Rookmangud Katawal, an ideological battle ensued in the party between the more moderate Prachanda group and the hard line pro-China Mohan Vaidya group. At the moment, points are even but the battle is by no means over.

    Some articles in the Nepalese media during the past one year have been noticed to attack Prachanda and his No.2 Baburam Bhattarai, as pro-India and Indian agents. These articles or opinion pieces have all been written from within the Maoist camp. Both Prachanda and Bhattarai have been hurt by their propaganda and have made some ideological and political compromises, but have still held most of their positions. A temporary truce has been arrived at. But it is temporary. It is unlikely that the Chinese would embark on a military misadventure in Nepal, like they did in Vietnam in 1979. China wanted to teach Vietnam a lesson, but got a bloody nose instead. Unlike Vietnam, Nepal has no army which can take the mighty PLA on. In that kind of scenario the international community will not stand by.

    The Maoist hardliners including people like Upadhyaya would do well to call for a national referendum on India – whether the Nepalese people would want a freeze of relations with India, including stoppage of trade and commerce, Indian aid and assistance, and an embargo on Nepalese citizens working in India. It would be interesting to get a response from Mr. N.P. Upadhyaya.

    (The author is an analyst with many years of experience. He can be reached at [email protected])
     
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  3. SammyCheung

    SammyCheung Guest

    Certainly any county used as a base for separatist operations in China is open to retaliation, including Nepal.
     
  4. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    If anything the so called Chicom retaliation will only further push the Sikkimization process.Remember it was the ethnic Nepalese in Sikkim who helped advance the integration of Sikkim into the Indian union.

    I say go for it China :)
     
  5. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    I think China has learnt well from their past mistakes. They have now reoriented their foreign policy to 'aid and trade' and it seems to be working very well for them when it comes to poaching troubled underdeveloped nations outside their own dominion.

    If India doesn't change its own tack and develop ways to counter China's influence they are truly going to find themselves encircled. India doesn't have nearly as much capital or surplus industrial capacity to make large investments into countries like Nepal. But what they can offer is fairer trade conditions unlike China who eventually want to flood all emerging markets with their countless cheap consumer goods (the ones that can't be sold in developed nations).

    China has been far more dynamic in their foreign policy than India. It'll be interesting to see if India's cadres wisen up to the game.
     
  6. vish

    vish Regular Member

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    The King of Nepal proposed accession with India in the 1950s; the-dove-hippie-Nehru rejected it.

    Sikkim was done to ward of the Yanks and not the CCP.

    Energon, Nepal is firmly in our orbit (and I'm sorry if this term is disrespectful); no amount of aid is going to overtake the benefits Nepal gets from Indian tourists or from remittances from India.
     
  7. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    I'm not so sure this is true. Granted I am no Nepal or South Asia expert, but based on my very basic reading about the issue it seems that India is viewed not as a close ally/ friend/ benefactor, but rather the lesser of two evils. It just so happens that the other competing party is hard at work decreasing its magnitude of evilness. The same is true for Bangladesh and up until recently Myanmar where China ended up taking the lead. The relationship with Sri Lanka is more elaborate than the rest but not smooth by any means (for good reason) and it is obvious that China has been making a lot of headway here as well.

    While no one can deny the serious issues such as terrorism and border incursions especially in the case of Pakistan, the overall statistical significance of India's troubled relationships with all its surrounding neighbors (bar Bhutan- so far) is not easy to ignore either.

    For whatever reason India simply doesn't seem to have a dynamic regional foreign policy plan. The dysfunctional relationships seem to be going around aimlessly in circles thanks to a lethargic and ossified policy outlook that seems to be motivated more by ego, arrogance and cultural misconceptions than pragmatism or constructive national interests.

    So while its true that Nepal may survive on handouts from Indian based remittances and tourism, that can always be dwarfed by China who can offer a lot more of the same and then some. So instead of merely resting on the laurels of a smug superiority, it would be far more advantageous to come up with a plan to develop this relationship further and ensure lasting influence over the region.
     
  8. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    Considering the recent turn of events,i must say China's Nepal policy has been mostly knee jerk,reactionary and as it turns out an unqualified disaster.Its a well known fact that the Nepali royal family's fear of the fate of Sikkim royalty largely influenced in its dealing with India.Nepal's India policy was by and large drafted by the Narayanhiti palace and fear of an overthrow and merger always played on the mind of the Nepal monarchy and its appointed aristocracy.

    Nepal Monarchy played the China card in the late 80's and Indian responded with the blockade,China indulged the monarchy but King Birendra had learnt his lesson.King Gyanendra again played the China card during the constitution crisis(after he dismissed the elected govt),much against India's advise Gyanendra got China inducted as a SAARC observer and China returned favor by selling him small arms,only to see him ousted.

    What people tend to forget in all this is mighty China has merely followed India's lead in the Nepal affairs,only that China tried to occupy diplomatic space vacated by India.However India deliberately paced her retreat and ground conceded were shaky to begin and China took the fall.

    Gyanendra and Prachanda indulged China as a bulwark against India,not because the relations had any positive grounding or political capital,other than curry political concession from India.

    If anything India has come out smelling roses from the crisis precipitated by Gyanendra and Prachanda,the same cannot be said for China.
     
  9. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    China's foreign policy not just in the neighboring region but in other areas of the developing world are primarily designed around this very mantra: 1) carefully study the dynamic between an under developed nation and its most powerful sponsor; 2) exploit shortcomings between the two; 3) fill in the power vacuum 4) establish a relationship that circumvents the issues that caused problems with the predecessor.
    The West's concerns with human rights violations by their African client states; trade barriers and unfettered capital that hampered the relationship between Central and South American states with the USA are two very good examples of how China has been able to usurp influence slowly but surely in both these regions.


    India may have come out the winner in the Sikkim bout (albeit I don't have nearly the knowledge about the details of these events), but I'm willing to bet China has studied this very carefully (and they've had over 3 decades to do this) and intends to do things differently with Nepal. I just feel that India needs to reevaluate its regional foreign policy and revitalize its efforts based on constructive national interest.
     
  10. vish

    vish Regular Member

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    Energon:

    Few things...

    (1) The Indian MEA is not sleeping; it is not like they are unaware of what the Chicoms are up to or how to tackle the Chicoms.

    (2) We are not giving handouts to Nepal; that is what the Chicoms are doing. Nepalese are treated very much like Indian citizens. They come here, work here and earn their worth.

    (3) Do you realize what will happen if India even slightly tightens the freedom of movement of Nepalese citizens on Indian soil?

    (4) The civil war in Nepal ended because we wanted it to end. The King was threatening us using the China card. He went out. Prachanda tried the same; he went out too. Now realize one thing: both ousters had popular Nepalese support. What does that tell you?

    Further, I'm not suggesting that we ignore the Chicoms, but can we please not hype them up like they are invincible Klingons?
     
  11. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    All these attempts by China to try to buy smaller countries will fail in the end, nobody is interested in doing China's dirty work; they will all take chinese money and do nothing.
     
  12. amitkriit

    amitkriit Senior Member Senior Member

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    India generates direct/indirect employment for 40% of Nepalese people. India and Nepal have a centuries-old "Roti-beti relation". It will require China too much of hard work before they can achieve something remarkable in Nepal as far as influence is concerned. Another great advantage that India possess is it's skills related to communicating with masses, as Chinese government is more experienced in running things in an autocratic ways, while Indian government has to appease its people on daily basis, this skill may be learnt through experience only. I can see a definitive change of perception vis-a-vis Chinese as far as their allies in the region like Pakistan, Sri Lanka (not so close) are concerned, China can do things at a faster pace but I really doubt their capability to sustain any gain.
     
  13. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    amit interesting view on a person to person level but Chinese like to deal on a government level more or less buying the government to be specific but i agree that most of these attempts will not turn out as hope even in Pakistan, where Chinese are getting killed by locals in many different areas to the point where projects have stopped or been delayed.
     
  14. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    I don't know about invincible Klingons, but China's recent diplomatic gains have been unparalleled since the emergence of post WWII neocolonialism. They have very carefully expanded their influence all over the developed, developing and under developed world without firing a single shot (all the shooting was done by other people). I also think it is absolutely fascinating that they have through their well planned diplomatic efforts deferred any problem with the Islamic world despite their policies in the Xinjiang province, something no other non-Islamic nation/organization has managed in recent times. IMO the world needs to wake up and take notice of these gargantuan achievements and study them carefully.

    Lastly, it should be noted that the Klingon empire actually always remained unstable and susceptible to disaster because of its inability to be dynamic.
     
  15. vish

    vish Regular Member

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    China's neighbours would disagree. The only thing that compels the world to get influenced by China is her sheer size.

    So has the rest of the world.

    Two things:
    (1) Turkey
    (2) How closely affiliated are the Muslims in Xinjiang with the "centre" of the Islamic World, aka the Middle East?

    No denial, except for these achievements are not gargantuan.

    And what the hell is the CCP?
     
  16. badguy2000

    badguy2000 Respected Member Senior Member

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    "soft" can beat "hard" sometimes.
     
  17. badguy2000

    badguy2000 Respected Member Senior Member

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    forget it.

    chinese can invest much more economy resouce on its diplomacy.

    money talks,guy!
     
  18. F-14

    F-14 Global Defence Moderator Senior Member

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    vish CCP means Chinies Communist Party
     
  19. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    China has up staged most of her regional adversaries off late either on the economic front, diplomatic front, or both. I would expect a negative response from the neighboring nations. And if size were the only factor determining influence, India would also be in the same league; which it obviously isn't.

    I think it is rather evident that affiliations mean very little when it comes to Islamist causes. There is an outburst when enough influential people in the Islamic world decide to orchestrate one, the exact detail of the cause, situation or the victims is a non sequitur. The reason you see mass riots and violence on account of a meaningless cartoon but not the Uyghurs is because China has made sure that the few people who would like to trigger a chain reaction of violence are desisted from doing so. This in turn has been enabled by first and foremost patronizing Pakistan, the country that would serve as a base of a retaliatory insurgency, supporting impoverished Islamic nations around the world (particularly north Africa and central Asia) who would provide the manpower for the said insurgency, and finally, courting influential oil rich and/or culturally dominant Islamic nations who would provide the financing and spiritual motivation for Jihad. This multi-tiered concentric pattern of Chinese foreign policy seems to be fairly standard on many fronts and I refuse to believe that it is just an accident.

    One of the smartest and most dynamic body of leadership anybody has seen in a very long time. And their meteoric advances have come solely on the basis of their ingenuity, hard work and intense planning. I may not want to live in China, nor do I support their way of governance, but I'll certainly give credit where it is due.

    BTW Gene Roddenberry had modeled the Klingons upon the Soviet Union, who lived up to the part.

    HAHAHHAAHAH yeah ok. First of all China's diplomatic strategy isn't nearly as "soft" as you are trying to portray. Off the books small arms trade, covert military assistance and big ticket items to some of the most troubled, violent and malignant areas of the world are hardly examples of soft power. Its just that unlike the West, China doesn't have any qualms about human rights abuses or token international laws to stumble upon and look silly. Also the West (particularly the US) has invested a lot more in terms of capital into the world than has China. It is also clearly evident that the Chinese have no real interest in promoting local industry (other than some token non productive ones that have an emotional connection for the local populace), if anything the primary goal is to flood markets with cheap Chinese finished goods and slowly but surely impose a trade deficit which can then be balanced with certain raw materials and natural resources all of these nations miraculously seem to have. Also, most of the infrastructure projects that China earmarks for under developed nations are conducted by Chinese workers shipped in from the impoverished parts of China. Point being, this model of aid is just as fallacious as the one coming from any Western dominated agency. As far as I'm concerned this is all merely a rehash of the neo colonial model that already exists.

    I said the Chinese diplomatic leadership is smart and dynamic, not benevolent.
     

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