By Ram Khatry
China knew all along that it would be New Delhi which PM Oli would visit first, not Beijing: Nepal’s immature foreign affairs management exposed
A pro-establishment Chinese newspaper has urged Beijing to grant Nepal the status of an observer state in a China-led coalition of five nations that includes Russia.
Global Times suggested that absorption of Nepal into any major regional organisation will help the mountain republic deal with difficult bilateral and multilateral disputes (such as the disputed Nepalese territory of Lipu-Lekh and the Terai unrest) involving both China and India.
“Beijing, as a close friend of Kathmandu, has a responsibility to help its southern neighbour,” an article posted on the website of the popular English-language newspaper said.
The article published on Friday calls on the Chinese government to include Nepal in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (sectsco.org). China, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are the five permanent member states of the SCO. Afghanistan, India, Mongolia, Iran and Pakistan are its observer states and that’s what Nepal should be so that it is empowered to voice its concerns internationally, Global Times suggested.
Xu Liang, the writer of the opinion piece, is the Executive Director of the Indian Studies Center at Beijing International Studies University. “The regional organizations will serve as a platform for Kathmandu to resolve bilateral and multilateral problems. By joining regional institutions, Nepal will find it easier to come up with a solution to strike a balance between China and India.” Mr Liang argued in the article.
The website at the same time warns China against stepping ‘into the minefileds between Nepal and India’. Beijing needs to be careful so that it does not touch on sensitive issues between Kathmandu and New Delhi, it further said. Sensitive issues such as Lipu-Lekh, an integral part of Nepal but which found a mention in a bilateral agreement between China and India during Narendra Modi’s China visit few months earlier. Nepalese public and some political parties have expressed serious concern at this and view the Sino-Indian MoU as the violation of Nepal’s sovereignty.
However, Nepal, as it stands today is hardly a country China can rely on when it comes to exulting it to the status of an ‘observer state’ of an important international bloc. Led by a prime minister who claims to conjure up cooking gas out of the ether and supply to his fellow citizens ‘house to house’ in a matter of year (the country does not have capacity even to provide tarpaulins and blankets to few hundred thousand earthquake victims shivering in wintry mountains right this moment) and becomes a national laughing stock, will Kathmandu behave reliably even if China did render observer status on the country?
So far as the question of Prime Minister KP Oli’s first foreign visit is concerned, it seems China knew all along that he would visit India first and that the Nepalese government was just playing the China card in order to ‘find some leeway in the negotiation with India over the ongoing India blockade’.
“The Nepalese government was not serious when suggesting earlier that Oli may visit China ahead of India” – the article makes it glaringly clear that China knows Nepalese ways pretty well.
Diplomatically, the episode of China versus India visit has reflected extremely poorly on Nepal. It has laid bare the rather immature and child-like manner in which the country manages its foreign affairs.