China is not an alternative for Nepal over India, Nepalese economist warns government  

New Delhi/Kathmandu: After digging up a border dispute with India, Nepal is preparing to refuse the aid, offered by the United States, under the ‘Millennium Challenge Cooperation’ (MCC). The United States established the MCC to counter the growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific sector. Therefore, it is reported that China is exerting immense pressure on Nepal to refuse this aid. As per analysts, Nepal is under tremendous Chinese influence. At the same time, Nepalese economists are telling their government, who has dug up a border dispute with India, that there is no alternative to India, for Nepal.   

Nepal opposed that Kailas-Mansarovar link road, built by India in Lipulekh. Thereafter, Nepal started the border dispute, showing 395 kilometres of Indian territory, including Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura, as Nepalese territories in the new map. As per experts, this has adversely affected relations between India and Nepal. But experts claim that there is Chinese instigation behind the Nepalese actions. Two more reports proving the extreme influence of China over the Nepal government have surfaced.   

In 2017, the United States announced an aid of $500 million, to Nepal. With this financial aid, Nepal will be laying a power transmission line and rebuilding 300 kilometres of road. But the Nepal parliament has to approve a bill accepting the aid, before 30th June. But Nepal has not presented the resolution in the parliament. Nepal government which could hurriedly get the controversial map claiming Indian territories passed, in a hurry, has been unable to present the resolution regarding the US aid, in the parliament. Main leaders of the Nepalese ruling party are against taking any aid from the United States. These leaders fear that the objective of the MCC being countering Chinese influence, accepting the aid will upset China.  

Nepalese Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada had included the MCC aid in the budget for the year. But he faced a lot of resistance from within the party. Khatiwada pointed out that if the US aid is declined, it will affect aids coming from other countries of the world. Despite this, the Nepal government seems to be reluctant to accept MCC aid.   

At the same time, the Chinese ‘Mandarin’ language has been made compulsory in Nepalese schools. China has assured Nepal that it will bear the salaries of the teachers for the Mandarin language. Thereafter, the schools in Nepal have started making Mandarin compulsory for students. China is making big investments in Nepal, under its ambitious scheme ‘Belt and Road initiative’. As per analysts, this investment is the main reason for the increasing Chinese influence in Nepal.   

Nepalese economist, Dr Posh Raj Pandey, has cautioned the government that relations with India are being affected because of all this. Nepal is a landlocked country and depends on India in many ways. Nepal has borders with India on three sides and two-thirds of the essential supplies come through the Indian border routes. Dr Pandey pointed out that the imports through the Chinese border is a mere 14%.  

The nearest port to the north of Nepal is 4,000 kilometres away. This is three times more than the Indian Kolkata port. Dr Pandey said that there are no infrastructural developments near the Chinese border and there are a lot of limitations on that side, due to the arduous terrain. Therefore, Dr Pandey has warned that Nepal does not have an option other than India. Economist Dr Posh Raj Pandey is a member of National Planning Commission of Nepal. He is one of the important Nepalese representatives at the WTO. Therefore, a warning coming from him becomes very significant.   

Meanwhile, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh emphasised that India and Nepal share familial ties and they will not snap because of anybody’s decisions. Although Defence Minister Rajnath Singh did not mention names, it is clear that he is warning China, who is trying to bring discord in the India-Nepal relations. 

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