How China Is Influencing Nepal's Internal Politics

by Swarajya Staff - Jun 28, 2022 09:08 AM +05:30 IST
How China Is Influencing Nepal's Internal PoliticsFormer Prime Minister of Nepal, K P Sharma Oli, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

Two developments in the last week demonstrate how Nepal has moved into China’s arc of influence:

  1. Nepal decided against going ahead with the US government’s State Partnership Programme (SPP).

  2. Extensive conversations between a senior Chinese Communist Party apparatchik and former prime ministers Dahal and Oli.

Behind the scene: PM Sher Bahadur Deuba is seen as trying to improve ties with the US and India. China sees this as a challenge to its hegemony.

  • Therefore, China uses Nepal’s top academicians, think tanks, politicians, media persons, commentariat, retired judges, bureaucrats, and army officers as well as a galaxy of prominent figures and civil society leaders to put pressure on the government.

  • In this way, China manages to influence the internal matters of Nepal through its proxies.

China as Nepal's overlord: China wholeheartedly welcomed Kathmandu’s decision to dissociate itself from the SPP.

  • Wang Wenbin, the spokesperson of China’s foreign ministry, called SPP a military and security initiative closely linked to the Indo-Pacific Strategy and against Nepal's national interests.

  • Wenbin virtually arrogated to himself the role of Nepal’s spokesperson when he supported Nepal’s commitment to its "independent and non-aligned foreign policy."

  • Chinese enthusiasm to assume the role of Nepal’s unsolicited spokesperson and benefactor did not attract any criticism.

  • The meek acceptance of Wenbin's statements shows how the leaders of Nepal have accepted China as their overlord.

  • Earlier, China had failed to prevent Nepal from ratifying the US’s Millennium Challenge Corporation grant of $500 million.

Why CCP member met former PMs: China is once again trying to broker an alliance between Dahal's CPN-MC and Oli's CPN-UML.

  • Liu Jianchao, the new head of CCP's central committee’s international liaison department, spoke with Dahal and Oli over two days (23, 24 June).

  • China was instrumental in Dahal and Oli coming to a deal in 2017 and then entering into a formal alliance in 2018.

  • The alliance formed the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), but it came undone over Oli’s refusal to honour a power-sharing deal with Dahal.

China's role during political crisis: When the NCP ceased to exist and Nepal plunged into a political crisis, the Chinese envoy in Kathmandu, Hou Yanqi, played a public and proactive role in brokering peace between Dahal and Oli.

  • Beijing also sent senior Communist Party leaders to Kathmandu to talk to Oli, Dahal, and other senior communist leaders of Nepal to prevent the fall of the NCP government.

  • Yanqi even met Nepal’s President, Bidhya Devi Bhandari, to put pressure on her on behalf of Oli.

  • Beijing could not ultimately save the NCP government, but the blatant interference in Nepal’s internal affairs revealed the extent and intensity of China’s grip over Nepal.

What's happening now: China wants Oli and Dahal's electoral alliance to fight the federal parliamentary polls together.

  • Beijing feels that such an alliance will emerge as the clear winner. In that case, Beijing will find it easier for Nepal to do its bidding.

  • China is also learnt to be leaning on Deuba and his senior colleagues in the Nepali Congress to agree to make Dahal the prime minister of a possible coalition government after the polls.

  • China feels that no party will get an absolute majority and CPN(MC) will play kingmaker. The CPN(MC) is part of the ruling Nepali Congress-led coalition government.

Bottom line: Beijing wants to see Dahal or Oli as the next PM of Nepal. As elections get closer, Beijing’s efforts to put its own man in power in Nepal will become more blatant.

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