Opinion-What does the Sino-Indian dispute mean to Nepal?

The border dispute between China and India may cause some South Asian countries to stand aside. However, Nepal has always expressed its belief in neutrality and non-alignment (Ghimire 2020). Although New Delhi doubts Nepal’s neutrality on the grounds of China’s growing footprint in Nepal (Gupta, 2020), Kathmandu still believes that this suspicion is due to the new map line connecting the two countries through open borders (The Times of India, 2020). ). In addition, Nepal has repeatedly called for a diplomatic solution to the Indonesian border issue (Republican Party, 2020), but New Delhi did not pay attention to this, leaving room for Nepal’s ruling Communist Party to obtain geopolitical benefits from the Sino-Indian dispute (Giri, 2020a). However, what is interesting is that this geopolitical interest is only more closely linked with China in order to weaken India's influence in Nepal. Nepal’s recent diversified trade initiatives and new railway projects are also the result of India’s growing dissatisfaction with India (Sangraula, 2019).

The senior Nepalese diplomat Yadu Nath Khanal (Yadu Nath Khanal) mentioned in his book "Nepal’s Non-Segregated Diplomacy" in Policy", although the increasing tension between India and China has led to After the 1962 war, the Nepalese media commented that the war is beneficial to Nepal. Although Nepal still does not intervene, Nepal’s neutrality is regarded as anti-Indian and pro-Chinese in the Indian media (Khanal, 2000). In times, although India’s perception has not changed much, the current Nepalese government failed to understand the public’s perception when dealing with controversial neighboring countries.

On June 19, 2020, the School Department of the Communist Party of Nepal (NCP) When a virtual meeting between Nepal and the Communist Party of China was organized, the Indian media began to cynically portray the relationship between Nepal and China as an anti-Indian relationship. This meeting was held when the relationship between India and China was chaotic due to a border conflict. When the violent conflict along the disputed border with Ladakh worsened, and the border dispute between Nepal itself and India occurred. This not only made India doubt Nepal’s neutrality, but also provided a support for the Indian media. Opportunity for the Chief of the Army’s remarks: “Nepal is acting at someone’s request” (Wired, 2020). Although this meeting was originally scheduled for June 15, 2020 between the Indian and Chinese forces. A long time ago, but the timing was inappropriate, so it was widely criticized for its preventable geopolitical ambitions.

However, the Sino-Indian dispute will only contribute to Nepal’s geopolitical driving force, or mean more for Nepal. Because this deadly dispute has also had a disastrous effect on the economic aspirations of the Himalayas to set up these two economic giants. India’s outstanding economic performance and China’s unparalleled development have always brought hope of spillover effects to Nepal. Nepal seeks prosperity itself. It depends on its diplomatic relations (KC&Bhattarai, 2018). However, as long as the geopolitical hostility between India and China triggers geopolitical ambitions among the leaders of small South Asian countries, they will spend a lot of time putting the interests of a nuclear-armed country on Over the interests of another country. Historically, leaders of small countries have done so to defend their regime, or protect their own government, or at least extend their time in power (Rose, 1971).

Both India and China There is sufficient capacity to resolve disputes bilaterally. However, after adopting the Westphalian model, these two states have become geopolitical opponents. China’s communist system is portrayed as a permanent threat to India, which is the world’s The largest democracies therefore constitute confrontation. However, this kind of competition has prospects and influences on their neighbors and their surroundings. The competition between China and India has always been a constant threat to small neighboring countries like Nepal. Always hope to benefit from the spillover effects of the economic development of India and China, especially through the implementation of Overseas delivery (Bhattarai, 2016). However, outside the neighborhood, Sino-Indian competition is strategically beneficial to the United States. As India and China lose their image as responsible powers, it has intensified American self-confidence in the region.

Although India is considered a rising power, at the same time, it also missed many opportunities to give confidence to neighboring countries, including Nepal, and failed to lead South Asia (Ganguly, 2020). Even for China, which is unwavering in attracting South Asian countries to implement the “Belt and Road Initiative” project, the confidence of the United States in South Asia will be dangerous. For small countries like Nepal, their competition for influence in South Asia is still the main source of insecurity. Therefore, stimulating any idea of ​​seeking geopolitical ambitions may be even more harmful.

Even though India is attracted by the US-led Indo-Pacific strategy, New Delhi is not satisfied with the confidence of the US in its backyard (Hindustan Times, 2020a). China has never been satisfied with US exchanges in South Asia. Small countries like Nepal are also worried about being trapped in competition from big powers. In the early 1970s, Tibetan Khampa fighters in Nepal received financial support from the United States, which greatly angered China (Adhikari, 2012). When U.S. President Trump tweeted that “the United States is willing and capable of mediating or arbitrating its fierce border disputes” (Chiacu & Miglani, 2020), both parties rejected the proposal. Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, replied that there is no need for “intervention” by a third party (India, 2020). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India also stated that India is communicating directly with China through established mechanisms (Laskar & Patranobis, 2020).

India and China claim that they can resolve their disputes on their own (Laskar & Patranobis, 2020), pointing out that the Doklam crisis in 2017 had been resolved bilaterally. However, Nepal has always worried about the security threats caused by its rare conflicts. After the death of 20 Indian soldiers in the latest conflict, Nepal’s security threats developed rapidly (Giri, 2020b). Nepal clearly stated in a press statement issued on June 20 that the two neighboring countries need to resolve their disputes. Obviously. Through "peaceful means conducive to bilateral, regional and world peace and stability" (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2020). Although Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval have pledged to disband their troops along the line of actual control (The Times of India, 2020b), future upgrades cannot be ruled out. Indeed, just before the Galwan crisis, China and India had decided to strengthen the spirit of "positive consensus" through effective military and diplomatic exchanges (Aljazeera, 2020), but this is still a tragedy.

The recruitment of Khalkhas further complicated the Sino-Indian dispute in Nepal. Currently, there are more than 30,000 Nepalese Gurkha soldiers serving in the Indian army (Nepal Times, 2020), and most of them are deployed along the Sino-Indian border. If India suspects Nepal’s neutrality while implying that China’s presence in Nepal is increasing, China will certainly find that recruiting Gurkhas violates Nepal’s refusal to support it.

Although Sino-Indian competition has elements of conflict, cooperation and competition, taking advantage of the Machiavellian interests to escape competition may not support Nepal's isometric foreign policy. Realizing this, Nepal proposed a trilateral partnership (Giri, 2016). Therefore, Nepal is waiting for New Delhi and Beijing to renegotiate their views. Although the 2018 Simodi Wuhan Conference aims to stabilize India-China relations, today's relations between the two countries are clearly disrupted by border issues and competition for regional supremacy and global influence. Nepal itself views China-India relations in three different ways. First, as a geopolitical opponent. Secondly, as an economic giant. Third, as two different civilized entities. Therefore, the Sino-Nepal dispute over Nepal does not only mean an opportunity to strengthen its geopolitical ambitions, because due to Nepal’s geostrategic position, establishing relations with one country at the expense of another country may be counterproductive.


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