Chinese Takeaway: Sushma in Nepal


By C. Raja Mohan

C. Raja Mohan
C. Raja Mohan

When External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrives in Kathmandu this week to review the state of bilateral cooperation and prepare for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal, China is bound to loom large. For Beijing’s profile Nepal has steadily risen in the last few years and has generated concerns in the Indian security establishment. As elsewhere on its borders, China is rapidly expanding its trans-frontier influence in Nepal.

It is upgrading the Araniko highway from the Tibet border to Kathmandu, built in the 1960s. It also has plans to extend the Tibet railway line to the Nepal border. China’s trade and investment ties with Nepal as well as development assistance have steadily risen in recent years, as Beijing’s economic influence radiates across the border. Chinese tourist arrivals in Nepal have grown at an average of nearly 25 per cent a year over the last few years. Beijing’s cultural presence has significantly expanded with the setting up a number of China Study Centres in Nepal, including in the Terai region, which shares a long border with India.


China’s presence in Nepal has long been viewed as a “zero-sum-game” in New Delhi. If the security establishment in Delhi sees Nepal as part of an exclusive Indian sphere of influence, Beijing has affirmed the right, as the large northern neighbour, for a substantive engagement south of the Himalayas.

Given this structural tension in the approaches of Delhi and Beijing, China has been a useful card to play against India for some in Nepal’s elite. They have insisted on some kind of “non-alignment” between Nepal’s giant neighbours, much to the irritation of Delhi. This game has become somewhat complicated as economic relations between China and India have improved, despite their other political problems, including the boundary dispute.

China views many of its transport projects in Nepal as a means to access the large markets in the Gangetic plains. In the last few years, there have been repeated hints from Chinese think-tanks on the need for Delhi-Beijing economic cooperation in Nepal. Beijing has now formally suggested the idea of China and India developing a Trans-Himalayan zone of cooperation. It is one of a piece with the Silk Road strategy that Chinese President Xi Jinping has made his own.

Although there are many sceptics in Delhi who are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of economic cooperation with China across the land frontiers, there are signs of a shift within the foreign policy establishment. For example, Delhi was until recently cold to Chinese proposals on developing the so-called BCIM corridor, which would link Beijing’s Yunnan province with Myanmar, Bangladesh and eastern India. Delhi now appears more open to the idea of regional economic cooperation with China, which in turn sets a very different framework for Delhi’s engagement with Kathmandu.


The NDA government’s real challenge in Nepal, however, is not China. It is the tragic failure of Delhi’s own engagement with Kathmandu. Despite geographic proximity, cultural intimacy, economic interdependence and shared political values, India has stumbled in Nepal.
Consider, for example, two popular current images of India in Nepal in relation to China. One is the deep dismay at the pathetic state of infrastructure on the Indian side of the border, which stands in contrast to the shining new roads and bridges on the Chinese side. If Swaraj finds time to visit the Nepal border, she will understand why so many Nepalese crossing the frontier see India as belonging to the “Fourth World” rather than as a rising power.

India can improve its Nepal engagement by simply helping itself through the development of frontier regions in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, modernising border infrastructure and upgrading transborder connectivity. India’s image in Nepal has also been bruised by the growing perception in Nepal that “India promises, China delivers”. India’s record of project implementation in Nepal is awful. Swaraj might want to see a summary of promises made to Kathmandu and kept in the last few decades before she arrives in Nepal. While there are many problems on the Nepal side, Swaraj must convince her interlocutors that the Modi government will remove all the obstacles from the Indian side for the timely implementation of projects.

The writer is a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, Delhi and a contributing editor for ‘The Indian Express.

Courtesy: The Indian Express


  1. The article By C. Raja Mohan’Chinese Takeaway: Sushma in Nepal’is analytical. After all, the crucial point is that, if Monarchy and Hindu Kingdom who had demoralized by Congress (I) and its RAW must be proposed by BJP Govt. to restore the symbols of Nepal.
    We Nepalese people always want cordial and harmonious relation with India. But, Congress (I) has been conspiring internally to bring us pain. So we are suspicious of Congress (I) Sonia Gandhi and RAW’s activities. We don’t have bitter feelings towards Indian people. We are against the Indian Congress party led by Sonia Gandhi. When Congress (I) comes to power it has influenced the traitors within Nepal and used it against the interest of Nepal. Due to the nefarious conspirator role of Congress (I) and its RAW, Nepal has been standing on the verge of dismemberment in the last seven years. Nepal has been always showing goodwill towards India. Cordial people to people level relations between Nepal and India has existed since ancient times.
    Since May 2014, BJP is in government of India. We have to keep friendly relations with India due to our similar cultural and religious traditions. But, since 2005, the cordial situation is humiliating day by day between Nepal & India. The permanent institution- ‘Monarchy’ can put unites the cordial relation between Nepal, India and China. In between the two big neighbors-China & India, the monarchy had been playing a balanced role. In the absence of Monarch- RAW (India’s the Research and Analysis Wing) and CIA (Intelligence agency of America) approach their agendas to destroy the Nepalese identity, unity and the Chinese integration.
    Nepalese monarchy is identified the most convincing identity of Nepal’s independence, cultural unity and safeguards the Indian culture and peace also. I think, majority Indian people also want Hindu Kingdom with monarchy in Nepal. We Nepalese people need to reinstate the amiable Hindu monarchy and Hindu Kingdom.
    We Nepalese people welcome the strong Hindu nationalist leader the Prime minister of India-Narendra Modi and the External Affairs minister Sushma Sworaj in Nepal. To maintain the cordial relation with Nepal, first of all, BJP Govt. should have to change the nefarious design of former Congress (I) Govt. and it’s RAW against Nepal. We Nepalese people respectfully suggest to the Prime Minister of India Hon. Narendra Modi and the home minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs minister Sushma Sworaj should decide all about the conspirator roles of South Block and RAW’s against Nepal before the visiting programmed in Nepal. If Nepal remains a republic, as it lies between two boulders-China and India-it will not remain secure. In the absence of the royal institution Nepal could as well break into pieces. If Nepal continues to exist, it will not be democracy that would be established through communism. China will come forward for communism in Nepal. It is so because it is China’s compulsion. If China does not Communism Nepal the foreigners will be subjected to the danger of foreign conspiracy of eternity. If there is no communism in Nepal, China could break up under Indian and American conspiracy. China under threat from imperialist forces will not remain silent. So, for China’s security it will be its foremost agenda to establish a People’s Republic in Nepal.
    Senior leader of B.J.P Lalkrishna Advani had said: ‘The framework for constitutional monarchy in Nepal should be consolidated because monarchy is the symbol of Nepal’s identity and sovereignty. Nepal should have an active and dynamic multi-party democracy’. Present Home minister of the Govt. of India and the BJP leader Rajnath Singh said- ‘We used to feel proud that Nepal was the only Hindu kingdom in the world,’ Singh said. ‘I will be happy when Nepal is a Hindu state again. ‘We used to feel proud that Nepal was the only Hindu kingdom in the world. ‘I will be happy when Nepal is a Hindu state again. No one is appealing to the Islamic states of Pakistan and Bangladesh to become secular. But it was done in Nepal.’ – 2010-3-22, in Nepal. Foreign Relations Department Chief of BJP Vijay Jolly said-‘ I am a Hindu who follows Hinduism. I am much upset as a decision on such an important topic was taken without taking people’s opinion’ July 4th 2014 Kathmandu.
    Yes, royal institution is an ancient organization. However, in Nepal royal institution is taken as the base pillar that can maintain peace and security and save democracy. It is the only organization that will move this nation ahead by maintaining a balanced relationship with China and India. China agrees to this concept as well and it will support the re-establishment of the royal institution. China has viewed the royal institution as a source of security from the era of the great leader Mao Ze Dong. After Nepal transforms to People’s Republic (one party communist) it will be easier to establish communism in India too. A huge struggle for communism will ensue in India where there are 80 percent poverty stricken people and emasculated ones. Then, communism will be established in India with guns.
    If People’s Republic were to be established in Nepal and India, Britain, America and other contractors of democracy would not be able to conspire and stop communism through bombardment. So America, Britain and other democratic nations also must understand that the only royal institution of the only Hindu Kingdom is a symbol of world peace that establishes the identity of Nepal.
    The fact is that, if monarchy is not in Nepal, CIA, EU inter in Nepal for Christianity and in the name of free-Tibet they will active to break China and then China comes in Nepal with powerful equipments to threat CIA and EU for its security. If monarchy and Hindu Kingdom will restore then China will return feeling its security. That is all
    Thank you

    Dirgha Raj Prasai