China’s Nepal Policy: Review the Past

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It is high time that Beijing should consider correcting its past policies, if not for Nepal’s interests, for the sake of China’s itself.

By Deepak Gajurel

Deepak GajurelThere are clear indications, in more than one form, that large scale conflict, one sort or another is brewing up in the Himalayan Asia region (the region covering South Asia and China).

Recent developments in Af-Pak area, Nepal’s continued political conundrum, intensified Tibetan assertiveness in Nepali and in Indian soils, growing tensions in South China Sea, major US military shift in Asia-Pacific, grooming tensions in the Indian Ocean and in the Sino-Indian borders, are some of the indicators of a cooking fresh conflict, if one can read between the lines.

An analysis of the past decade’s, especially after the 9/11 events, strategic development across the Himalayan Asia in particular shows a picture that Nepal is becoming more and more vulnerable of great power struggle.

Currently, the apparent tension is in the Korean Peninsula and in South China Sea. Nevertheless, we have to look at the broader picture to understand the things brewing up in the Asia-Pacific region.

 This was in pursuance of two aspects, first, obliterating any recurrence of West European conflict, and second, containing the Soviet Union from penetrating into West Europe.

The United States had been, since the end of the World War II, concentrating its major military projection into the Atlantic. This was in pursuance of two aspects, first, obliterating any recurrence of West European conflict, and second, containing the Soviet Union from penetrating into West Europe.

Now the things have changed with the Cold War gone, and Washington does see little importance of its presence in the Atlantic, more specifically in military terms. New arena for the United States is the Asia-Pacific, as mentioned, in an article in Foreign Affairs in 2010, by then US Secretary of States, Hillary Clinton. By declaring itself ‘a Pacific power,’ US has already decided to shift sixty percent of its military power into the Pacific, which obviously will reduce the US strength from the Atlantic security umbrella, which played the pivotal role of protecting Europe for more than half a century, since the end of the Second World War.

 This would have grave consequences, first, a new cold war would erupt in the Asia-Pacific region, second, Western Europe will be left on its own, and endangering it engulfing again into European conflicts, as pre-World War II situation, third, Russia would seek to fill the vacuum by penetrating into European affairs.

This would have grave consequences, first, a new cold war would erupt in the Asia-Pacific region, second, Western Europe will be left on its own, and endangering it engulfing again into European conflicts, as pre-World War II situation, third, Russia would seek to fill the vacuum by penetrating into European affairs. Some indications already have surfaced on the rift in the EU.

Implications for Himalayan Asia
No matter what situation would come up in the Asia-Pacific and Europe, this will have serious implications for China and the countries of South Asia. China evidently has to take the new challenges coming from the Asia-Pacific, which is not going to be easy to handle, or discard off.

There is a little possibility of long-term strategic US-India strategic axis, in terms of power rivalry or power alignment. Of course, Washington has been working for eliminating, or at least weakening, any potential rival, anywhere in the globe. US nuclear agreements with India, signed in 2008, might have long-term impacts in terms of regional power equations and rivalry, such as, possible Indo-Pak and/or Sino-India conflicts.

 Washington’s strategy is to weaken its potential rival Beijing, by overt or covert means. Strategic readers know better: covert measures work better than the other way round.

With India on a sort of ‘partnership’ the United States has an eye on China is brewing up in the form of ‘Tibetan Rights’ in and from the Nepali soil, which has been intensified after the 2006 political change in Kathmandu.

Washington’s strategy is to weaken its potential rival Beijing, by overt or covert means. Strategic readers know better: covert measures work better than the other way round.

Beijing’s move beyond Himalayas
After the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of Cold War, Beijing has been pushing strategic moves into the Indian Ocean, in general, often portrayed as String of Pearls by some analysts in India, and in Af-Pak area, in particular.

Here one should take note of a Chinese South Asia expert speaking to an international TV broadcast, in 2010, had said, ‘Pakistan is our Israel.’ This in itself gives a clear picture of what Himalayan Asia is going to face in the days to come; only one has to understand the things in its entirety.

One has to have capability to join the dots in the puzzle to see the whole picture.

And this would neither be friendly for China’s security, specifically in terms of Tibetan security.

Reading from the realist stand point, signals from across the Himalayas suggest China has started to realize its past misapprehension in handling Nepal policy. To be specific, China mishandled the 2006 political change in Nepal, which has resulted into heightened anti-China drifts in and from the Nepali soil.

Having learned from the past eight years’ experiences, China now seems ready to take any challenge from Nepali soil. And this is what a learned Nepali should fear a situation of ‘hot-spot’ for Nepal, where all major world powers would clash for their respective antagonistic interests. The net result: Nepal will become a helpless sick man fractured by more than one blows.

And this would neither be friendly for China’s security, specifically in terms of Tibetan security. Hence, it is high time that Beijing should consider correcting its past policies, if not for Nepal’s interests, for the sake of China’s itself.

Tribhuvan University Political Scientist Gajurel can be reached at: deepakgajurel@gmail.com

 

1 COMMENT

  1. You have summed up nicely recent developments in the following para: ‘Recent developments in Af-Pak area, Nepal’s continued political conundrum, intensified Tibetan assertiveness in Nepali and in Indian soils, growing tensions in South China Sea, major US military shift in Asia-Pacific, grooming tensions in the Indian Ocean and in the Sino-Indian borders, are some of the indicators of a cooking fresh conflict, if one can read between the lines ‘ .

    Then further in your article you have touched on US- India partnership and China’s readiness to meet any challenge from Nepali soil.

    It is a well written article with implications for international relations, including some tips for Nepal’s own strategy to deal with global powers like US, regional powers like India and China.