Why Nepal Is Wondering If China Supported India’s Road To Lipulekh

China’s increasing clout in Nepal has stirred concerns in India. 

Published11 Jun 2020, 11:32 PM IST
Opinion
3 min read

Two people in my neighbourhood were having a conversation about the recent border skirmishes of India with two of its neighbours – China and Nepal. “It seems that trouble is brewing at the roof of the world, China and India may start a military war,” one of them said. “It will be a catastrophe if this happens,” the other added.

They were angry about India’s new road in the border region which Nepal has claimed.

Both of them pointed out that Nepal and India should hold high-level talks and solve this issue. “Nepal is like a patch of grass lying between an elephant and a dragon. So, if they fight or come close, Nepal will be affected,” one of them added.

Will New Border Tiffs Between India & China Lead to Military Conflict?

India is facing border disputes with China and Nepal. Nepal recently issued a new political map displaying the regions of Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura as part of its sovereign territory. The Nepal government’s move came after India inaugurated a road connecting India to China via Lipulek, as part of the Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage route. Nepal claims that the newly-built road traverses its territory. India perceives Nepal as a proxy of China in the recent move.

India is facing border disputes with its other neighbour, China, too. The border skirmishes between China and India aren’t new.

This time though, there are growing concerns that the recent border disputes may trigger a military conflict.

Both countries are claiming territory along the Himalayas. Chinese and Indian soldiers scuffled and even resorted to stone-pelting near Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh and Nathu La pass near Tibet.

Two Asian giants muscle up after the border skirmishes and both sides have large military deployments in the region.

Why China’s Increasing Clout In Nepal Is Giving India Reason to Worry

This is a crucial time when solidarity is needed to curb the spread of COVID-19 but unfortunately, the two giant neighbors are engaged in border disputes. China is striding into a role once dominated by the West. As domestic infections of coronavirus COVID-19 ebb, China is mounting a humanitarian assistance blitz in neighbouring countries who struggling with their domestic epidemics. In doing so, China seizes the chance to win the support of neighbouring countries.

India also aims to be the regional leader and keep up with the growing clout of China. Both nations are in a tussle over domination of a small nation like Nepal that lies between them.

China’s increasing clout in Nepal has stirred concerns in India.

In recent years, China has pumped in millions of dollars into many infrastructure and hydropower projects in Nepal. During the visit of the Chinese President to Nepal in October 2019, China pledged nearly USD 500 million in financial aid to the Himalayan nation.

Building a Road At A Tri-Junction Is A Serious Issue: Why Is China Silent On This?

India-Nepal ties have soured in recent years. In 2015, India imposed an unofficial blockade along the border when signalling its unhappiness with the newly-released democratic constitution of Nepal. This blockade has opened the door for China in the Himalayan nation.

And the communist government of Nepal has attempted to move away from dependence on India by warming up to its rival, China.

This may be one of the reasons as to why India sees the Himalayan country as a proxy of China in a recent move to publish its new political map. In fact, Nepalis are wondering if China supported India in building a new road to Lipulekh. Building a road at a tri-junction point – that too without consulting the Himalayan nation – is a serious issue, and surprisingly, China is silent on the matter. So, small countries like Nepal, which is sandwiched between two huge nations, has to remain nonaligned and dependent. Those two giants have their own interests in Nepal and their brawl over the domination over Nepal can worsen their dispute.

(Brabim Karki is an author and businessman based in Nepal. He has authored two books: ‘Mayur Albatross’ and ‘Osin Fisher’. He tweets @brabim7. He writes op-eds for various local newspapers in Nepal. His articles have also appeared in international media like The Independent, The Diplomat, The Hill Times, and Asia Pacific Daily. His writings can be accessed here. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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