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Nepal – China’s Red Herring Game

In a development that is likely to worsen the row between India and Nepal over the disputed areas, the latter has officially issued a new map that shows Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura under its territory. Kathmandu raised the chorus over the issue after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a new road from Dharchula to Lipulekh that will reduce the time taken for Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage. While names have not been taken, China’s increased involvement in the country is something that is well known. New Delhi sees an increased Chinese role in Nepal as a reason for current comments by Kathmandu.  Nepal’s Communist Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s plan to claim Indian territories as part of a new Nepal map has come as reciprocal to thank his communist neighbor for what they did to save his party.

Earlier, New Delhi used to play a crucial role in Nepal politics but now China has emerged as a dominant player in the politics of the Himalayan nation. In the past, Nepal had never objected to India’s road construction till Lipulekh pass, which was to ensure a smooth ride to Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.

But why is there this sudden artificial enlargement of Nepalese territorial claims?

Why Is Nepal raking up the issue now?

Recently, there were some internal currents in Nepal where China was seen making hectic efforts to protect Nepal Communist Party (NCP)-led government in Kathmandu amid rifts within top leadership of the ruling dispensation.
Amid heightened intra-party row within the NCP, China has been particularly concerned over the latest political developments of Nepal. Political analysts agree that it is not Nepal but PM KP Sharma Oli is behind these developments. Oli has manipulated the UML and MC merger process to capture both the posts of Party Chairman and President. While applying one man one post principle for everyone, Oli, however, refused to follow it himself leading to opposition from other leaders.

He made his close confidant as President. All this has been crucial at a time when Dahal and NCP senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal are determined on ousting Prime Minister KP Oli amid intra-party row, especially after PM Oli brought two ordinances last week in an effort to secure his position as the PM.
When he faced opposition from Madhav Nepal and Prachanda to his leadership, he approached the Chinese Ambassador, who then pressurized Madhav Nepal and Prachanda to back off and saved Oli. Now, Oli is paying back for the Chinese help.

China’s motives

After the pandemic, there have been significant changes in international trade, investment, and industrial chains. The epidemic has caused huge damage to globalisation.

China is under tremendous pressure of facing isolation from the global economic order post-coronavirus. This chaos will add to a chorus of influential domestic voices who are increasingly concerned about the geopolitical isolation that could stem from fallout from the pandemic.

Meanwhile, political leaders and industry experts in the US, across Europe and in Australia are encouraging companies to remove industrial supply chains from China – the new mantra is “decoupling”. As more countries follow the United States in criticising China for its handling of the virus, doubts are growing as to whether Washington and its allies will be able to exclude Beijing from a new international economic order, a theory being labelled by some Chinese experts as “de-sinicisation”.

Such a process would pose a protracted economic and diplomatic challenge to China in the years ahead.

On top of the economic pressure, the US, European Union, Australia, and other countries have heaped geopolitical tension on China, calling for an independent investigation to determine the virus’ origin. This Covid-19-triggered campaign by Western powers to vilify and contain China will only harden Beijing’s resolve to increase its global influence.

The trend has evoked in some quarters comparisons to the “century of humiliation” in China, a topic which is revisited with increasing regularity by nationalistic elements within the Chinese government. The pandemic has once again thrown into stark relief China’s dangerous lack of transparency concerning any issue that could bring embarrassment to the country’s authoritarian leadership and harm to the world.

It is this nature of “total control” that lets china to feel powerless when it sees the situation going out of control. And whenever there is turmoil within the state, china has been known to be taking drastic measures to turn the attention of the public towards other issues, to give false reassurances to its people that things are under control. They have a post-virus strategy, and it is already underway. They decided to use Nepal as a red herring to pressure India. These pressure tactics would eventually win China a place in the global scenario, or so China thinks.

Viewpoint

China is engaged in provocative and coercive military and paramilitary activities with neighbouring countries including India. As China has grown in strength, so has the willingness and capacity of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to employ intimidation and coercion in its attempts to eliminate perceived threats to its interests and advance its strategic objectives globally. If you look to the South China Sea, there’s a method here to Chinese operation. It is that constant aggression, the constant attempt to shift the norms, to shift what is the status quo. It is a reminder of what’s at stake in building a world order and sustaining a world order that respects, sovereignty, territorial integrity, as well as respects the rules of international trade. Not only that, China has attempted to dominate the global information and communications technology industry through unfair practices. China’s state-owned and directed enterprises are looking to exploit the current economic crisis by buying US and foreign companies. Overall, the Chinese Communist Party represents an existential threat to democratic values across the globe.
With much of the West still flattened by Covid-19, a presidential election looming in the US and China’s future growth in peril, more and even greater conflicts almost assuredly lie ahead.

01 June 20/Monday                                                                                    Written By: Saima Ibrahim

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