China’s Nepal card

Nepal’s new Prime Minister, Prachanda, the former Maoist revolutionary leader, chose to visit China for the Olympics closing ceremony for his first official visit rather than make a stop in India, raising questions over whether he will prioritize relations with China over India. From Sify.com:

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda or the “fierce one” travelled to Beijing to attend the closing ceremony of the Olympics on August 24.

Some Nepalese newspapers have described this as a diplomatic victory for China and a cause of worry for India. This is hardly the truth, at least for the moment. The new Nepali coalition government comprising the CPN (M), the CPN (United Marxist–Leninist or UML), and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), have had little time to hammer out even a basic foreign policy template. All three political parties and coalition partners have different foreign policy views and nuances. Other than the CPN (UML), the other two coalition parties are new entrants in democratic politics and will take time to learn the word plays and stances in the world of diplomacy where there is no place for guns and street protests.

The Times of India takes a different view, however:

The political overflight of New Delhi has not gone unnoticed here — Prachanda would be the first Nepalese leader to make Beijing his first stop and not New Delhi.

However you look at it, it’s a snub, particularly since New Delhi had invited him to visit much earlier. It doesn’t begin the new government’s ties with India on a promising note. Prachanda even chose to ignore signals from India that it would not be “helpful” in relations with New Delhi.

The Nepali Foreign Minister will travel to India this week where he aims to smooth over relations. Read also “Nepal Says it Will Maintain Equal Ties With India, China” from VOA and “Prachanda’s journey begins in Beijing” from Asia Times.

August 26, 2008 2:41 PM
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Categories: China & the World