Nepal : News and Updates

Ashwin

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Nepal, China ink 18 agreements

Nepal and China on Sunday inked 18 agreements and two letters of understanding of exchange following the conclusion of the state visit of President Xi Jinping to the Himalayan nation.

Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport of Nepal and the Ministry of Transport of the People's Republic of China have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the feasibility study of China-Nepal Cross-Border Railway project.

Another MoU was signed between the Ministry of Finance of Nepal and the China International Development Cooperation Agency on tunnels construction cooperation.

The other agreements focused on strengthening bilateral cooperation in the field of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, railroad connectivity, and investment.

A few of them also focused on forging a partnership with the government bodies including the Ministries of Home, Foreign Affairs, Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Agriculture and Livestock Development, Industry, Commerce and Supply, and the Kathmandu metropolis.

Earlier in the day, Jinping held bilateral talks with Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

Xi also promised the construction of Rasuwagadhi-Chhare-Kathmandu tunnel and upgradation of Araniko highway.

Jinping arrived in Kathmandu from Chennai in southern India late on Saturday afternoon and was received by the Nepali President along with other Ministers and high ranking officials.

The visit of China's Head of the State to Nepal comes after an interval of nearly 23 years.

With more engagements planned for Sunday along with the signing of some agreements, the Chinese President is set to fly back to Beijing later in the afternoon.

Xi had visited Nepal after concluding his two-day 'informal' summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Tamil Nadu's Mahabalipuram.
 

_Anonymous_

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Amitav Ghosh (@GhoshAmitav) Tweeted:
I've long wanted to write about the historical role of Nepal in India-China-Britain relations in the form of a review of the most important work on the subject (below). Don't think I'll ever get around to it so here's a thread instead. 1/7

From Frontier Policy to Foreign Policy: The Question of India and the Transformation of Geopolitics in Qing China | Matthew W. Mosca ( )

Do read the entire thread. It's an interesting read.
 

RISING SUN

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Dec 3, 2017
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In a series of meetings, Chinese envoy calls for unity among ruling party members
Days ahead of a crucial Nepal Communist Party meeting, Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi held a series of meetings with senior Nepal Communist Party leaders, expressing concern over the ongoing power play within the ruling party and seeking support to act as a bulwark against an international movement targeting China.

On Thursday Hou called on Prime Minister KP Sharma and on Friday she met with Nepal Communist Party (NCP) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, both former prime ministers.

According to individuals familiar with the meetings, Hou discussed three primary issues—the ongoing internal crisis in the ruling party, China’s assistance to Nepal to fight Covid-19, and Nepal’s support against the international politicisation of Covid-19 where a number of countries, including the United States, are trying to hold China accountable for the pandemic.

Hou’s series of meetings precede a crucial ruling party Secretariat meeting on Saturday, although the exact substance of her talks with the ruling party leaders is unclear, given that the Foreign Ministry was not informed beforehand and no representative of it was present during the meetings.

As per the diplomatic code of conduct, Foreign Ministry officials should be present at such meetings, but we were not informed,” a ministry official told the Post on condition of anonymity. “So there are no institutional records of the meetings and we don’t know what the talking points were.

The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu described the meetings as regular working communications.

“Both sides exchanged views on fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues related to bilateral relations,” a Chinese Embassy spokesperson told the Post.

Many say the Chinese ambassador’s meetings come at an interesting time, as Oli is facing a tough time from party factions led by Dahal and Nepal.

Oli’s position in the party has become so tenuous that Dahal, Nepal and senior leader Jhala Nath Khanal have all asked him to resign, leading to fears among party members that the party could split.

“We should see these meetings in three contexts. One, China’s diplomatic outreach after the Covid-19 outbreak; second, China’s medical and other assistance to Nepal; and third, China’s interest in the emerging political situation in our party,” said Bishnu Rijal, deputy chief of the party's international relations department.

According to Rijal, Beijing is concerned over disputes in the ruling party.

“They have been advising us to remain united and not indulge in disputes,” Rijal told the Post. “They have also suggested that top leaders take into account the people's verdict, peace and development.”

Hou’s meetings with ruling party leaders came on the heels of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s telephone conversation with President Bidya Devi Bhandari earlier this week. While offering assistance to Nepal in the fight against Covid-19, Xi also discussed bilateral cooperation and Nepal-China affairs.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Xi expressed confidence that the Nepali government and people will beat the virus at an early date, under the leadership of President Bhandari and Prime Minister Oli.

“Xi said that after the defeat of Covid-19, the two sides should continue to implement the consensus on cooperation in various fields reached by the two leaders during their mutual visits last year, and advance the sustained growth of the China-Nepal strategic partnership of cooperation,” reads the statement.

One ruling party leader said that Xi’s telephonic conversation with his Nepali counterpart, followed by his diplomat’s meetings with top ruling party leaders, shows that Beijing stands with the Oli government.

“Beijing also wants to assert that it attaches equal importance to all leaders of the ruling party,” the leader told the Post on condition of anonymity.

The ruling Nepal Communist Party was born out of a merger between Oli’s CPN-UML and Dahal’s Maoist Centre in May 2018, something that many believe was supported by the Chinese following a period of tumult in Nepal after the promulgation of the constitution in 2015 and the subsequent Indian blockade.

The ruling Nepal Communist Party and the Communist Party of China have since strengthened ties and increased bilateral visits.

A month ahead of President Xi’s visit to Nepal in October, the Nepal Communist Party organised a symposium and invited Chinese Communist Party leaders to share Xi’s doctrine with over 200 of its party members.

Though there were concerns over whether Beijing was exporting its political doctrine to Nepal—or the Nepal Communist Party was trying to emulate the Chinese Communist Party–leaders had said it was just a “knowledge-sharing” exercise.

While China has increased its presence in Nepal in recent years, primarily via aid and numerous big-ticket projects, it has remained cautious about not interfering in Nepal’s internal matters.

Nepal receives the highest amount of foreign direct investment from China

While Nepal has committed to the ‘One-China’ policy, a stable Nepal has been Beijing’s reiteration.

But over the last 10 days, politics in Nepal has taken a new turn, with leaders from the ruling Nepal Communist Party turning against their own prime minister.

“The Chinese are worried about the ruling party’s internal politics and concerned about the possible breaking of the current power equation,” said Rupak Sapkota, a China watcher and deputy executive director of the Institute of Foreign Affairs, a governmental foreign policy think tank. “The meetings [by the Chinese envoy] at this time could be to take stock of what’s going on.”

According to Sapkota, the Chinese would like to see an intact communist party.

“Due to ideological closeness, naturally the Chinese prefer a communist government in Nepal,” Sapkota told the Post. “But I don’t think they have any preferences when it comes to who leads the government.”
 

RISING SUN

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Oli peddles in mistruths and sidesteps criticism before Parliament
Appearing before Parliament on Wednesday to respond to questions from lawmakers, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli once again peddled in half-truths and misinformation regarding Covid-19 and his government’s response to the pandemic.

At one point, Oli repeated an argument that was going around when Nepal had yet to report a large number of infections—that Nepalis have stronger immune systems.

Opposition lawmaker Gagan Thapa from the Nepali Congress was quick to question Oli’s claims.

“Who has said that Nepalis have greater immunity powers?” said Thapa, asking if there was any scientific basis to Oli’s statement.

Oli was derisive in his reply

“A parliamentarian just asked me who said Nepalis have greater immunity powers,” said Oli. “Could you not hear me? I said it, just a while ago.”

Oli went on to say that a majority of Nepalis breathe fresh air and have ginger, garlic and turmeric as integral parts of their daily diet.

“Those who eat such medicines everyday definitely have better immunity,” said Oli.

Oli is not wholly wrong but his statement is a mischaracterisation. Although ginger, garlic and turmeric are known to have vitamins and antioxidants that can help boost the immune system, there is no scientific evidence that links their consumption with resistance to Covid-19.

Oli has made the immunity claim before. During an address to the nation on May 25, he said that Nepalis would beat Covid-19 with “strong willpower and immunity”.

Despite Oli’s assurances, infections have continued to rise, with over 4,360 cases countrywide, and 15 deaths. When Oli addressed the nation, just over two weeks ago, there were just 600 infections and three deaths.

Sameer Mani Dixit, research director at the Centre for Molecular Dynamics Nepal, said it has become clear by now that Oli does not listen to anyone, not even experts.

“He doesn’t understand Covid-19,” Dixit, who was invited last week by Oli as an expert to discuss Covid-19 related issues, told the Post. “We cannot say that Nepalis have better immunity without basing the claim on any study.”

Dixit himself was once a proponent of the argument that Nepalis have stronger immunity. A Nepali Times article quoted him as believing that “people are not getting seriously ill because Nepal is experiencing a less severe strain of the virus, and/or Nepalis do have stronger immune systems.”

“While lack of testing is also a big cause for missing cases, I believe that immunity may be a major player in developing countries. I know this sounds far-fetched, and people will laugh when they hear it, but there is a ‘hygiene hypothesis’,” he said in the article.

Dixit told the Post on Wednesday that his argument was based on the “hygiene hypothesis” and not on people’s food habits, as Oli has suggested.

“It could be possible that our exposure to particular microorganisms have contributed to the development of our immune system,” said Dixit. “It’s still a hypothesis though. But it was not about the kinds of food we eat or the air we breathe.”

Doctors and public health experts, including Dixit, had advised Oli last week to ease the lockdown, increase testing, employ polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests over rapid diagnostic tests (RDT), and refrain from making unsubstantiated claims.

But since then, the Oli government has reduced testing, employed water cannons against protesters demanding the the government employ PCR tests over RDT, and has yet to take a decision on easing the lockdown. Oli hasn’t stopped making unsubstantiated claims either, as was evident on Wednesday.

According to Dixit, Oli needs to internalise the fact that Covid-19 is a disease, not politics, and listen to doctors and public health experts.

“Oli should leave public health to the experts,” said Dixit. “It is unfortunate that the executive head of the country, the main authority to make crucial decisions, is bent on imposing his own ideas. This is a dangerous sign.”

Political leaders and analysts believe that Oli is riding on a combination of defiance, misinformation and nationalism, which is placing citizens at risk and inviting a much larger crisis.

“What the prime minister said today with regards to Covid-19 has once again confirmed that he does not know many things but he does not know that he does not know,” said Thapa. “Instead, he harbors the arrogance and delusion that no one knows more than him. This attitude means that Nepalis are in for more trouble.”

Baburam Bhattarai, a former prime minister and leader of the Janata Samajbadi Party, even went say far as to say that Oli appears to be suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect, a type of cognitive bias where incompetent people are unable to recognise their own incompetence and end up believing that they are smarter.

“He has been pontificating the same old stuff again and again. It’s a mess in quarantine, there’s a lack of testing, Nepalis returning from abroad are suffering and he says everything is alright,” Bhattarai said on Twitter.

Political analysts say that Oli is using the new map of Nepal to feed his ego and is using nationalist rhetoric to discount every other problem that the country is facing.

“Oli thinks no one can challenge him, as he thinks he has managed to win over everyone with his cartographic nationalism,” political commentator Rajendra Maharjan told the Post. “He thinks that if he can challenge India then why should he listen to the Parliament?”

At Parliament, Oli side-stepped questions regarding financial transparency over the Rs10 billion that the government is reported to have spent so far in the fight against Covid-19.

“Let’s focus on the Covid-19 response now. Every detail of the expenditure will be made public in due course,” he said in response to demands by the Congress’ Thapa that the government furnish a proper breakdown of the money.

Oli also dismissed all allegations of corruption, even though, early in the pandemic, two of his ministers were accused of corruption in the procurement of substandard medical supplies from China.

There is widespread discontent with the manner in which the Oli government has handled the pandemic. The lockdown, which has been in place for over 75 days now, is bleeding the economy, and has even led to a number of deaths, and people are dying of Covid-19 in mismanaged quarantine facilities. Despite lockdown orders, protests have already begun to break out.

But Oli appears oblivious to all criticism, alleging that it is the work of a small section of the media. The prime minister refuses to take criticism while despising the media, say analysts.

“Oli thinks he can say anything he wants and that he is not answerable to anyone, not even to Parliament,” said Maharjan, the political commentator. “He is even undermining the House. This is not a good sign for democracy.”
 

RISING SUN

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After India, Nepal risks severing ties with US for China
A Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant agreed in 2017 has widened splits in the Nepal Communist Party.

The party led by PM KP Sharma Oli is divided over a US promise of aid since it risks damaging ties with China.

The opponents of the MCC argue that the aid from the United States is part of a US Indo-Pacific Strategy to limit Chinese influence in the region. They say accepting the MCC would undermine Nepalese sovereignty by drawing country into Washington’s orbit, and anger China.

And this comes in the aftermath of the country becoming involved with India over the disputed territory of Kalapani. Kathmandu had continued its cartographic aggression and currently shows areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura under Nepalese administration.

It's being believed that the controversy displays Beijing’s increasing clout through its Belt and Road Initiative and diminishing US influence in Nepal.

The US committed to $500 million against a $130 million contribution from Nepal for a 400 kilovolt power transmission line and the upgrade of 300km of roads in the Himalayan country's southeast.

So the moral of the story is Nepal would have to sacrifice infrastructure to please China.

To counter the US aid, when China President Xi Jinping visited Nepal last year, he promised an aid of $50 million.

But can Nepal afford this? Nepal's economy is already stressed. Remittances and tourist dollars have dried up because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In times like these, the last thing one would want to do is put all your eggs in one basket.

But Nepal is doing exactly that.

Consider this -- before China President Xi Jinping's visit to Nepal, its leaders attended a training programme on the former's thinking.

It was an induction of sorts.

But the issue here is the constitutions of the two countries do not match at all. Neither does their political orientation.

Nepal is burning bridges with democratic nations -- to move into the orbit of an authoritarian regime.

And Prime Minister Oli is mistaken if he thinks he can trust China. Because China did not even spare its all-weather ally Pakistan.

China stole power worth $630 million from Pakistan through BRI projects.

Guess Nepal should just realise what's right for it before it's too late.
 
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Saaho

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Nepal cranks up anti-India politics with cross-border marriage bill
Amendment would force Indian wives to wait seven years to gain citizenship

KATHMANDU -- Nepal is ratcheting up tensions with its outsized neighbor to the south, eroding the regional clout of India in such a manner that if Delhi were to respond it would risk giving China more sway in the Himilayas.

Nepal's latest snub comes in the form of a long-dormant bill that would amend the country's Citizenship Act by requiring foreign women married to Nepali men to wait seven years before becoming naturalized citizens. The amendment was recently endorsed by a parliamentary panel and is now expected to sail through the lower and upper houses in the coming weeks.

The endorsement comes only weeks after Nepal redrew its national border to claim a Himalayan region at Nepal's northwestern tip as its own. India also claims sovereignty over this land. Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bhandari authenticated the map bill on June 18, giving it legal standing.


Sarita Giri, a native of India and a member of parliament belonging to the opposition Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP), may have coaxed the bill out of its dormancy when she, a naturalized citizen, introduced a counter amendment against the new map bill.

The episode was closely watched by Nepalis, who were suddenly wondering whether naturalized citizens should be allowed to be parliamentarians.

It also gave the pro-China ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) a golden opportunity -- to take a bill that had been languishing for two years and start moving it toward passage.

NCP leader and Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli is shepherding the bill. As he does so, the ruling party, which has a majority in parliament, is expected to gain more voter support ahead of elections in 2022.

The landlocked country has two long borders, one with India and the other with China. And most Nepalis are either in a pro-India camp or are grouped in another camp made up of independent-minded citizens and pro-China residents.

Most of the pro-India population lives along a southern plain known as the Terai region. Much of the pro-China/independent-minded population lives in the mountainous north.

North-south friction has been building up for decades now. In 1952, the population of the southern plain made up 35% of Nepal's total population. But by the time the census was taken in 2011, the figure was 50%. As a result, the northern population lost some of its political clout.

Cross-border marriages played a role. By 2011, 120,891 Indians -- 57,132 women and 63,759 men -- had acquired Nepali citizenship. Their numbers compare to the 2,572 Chinese nationals who gained Nepali citizenship and 15,447 from other nations who did likewise.

Pro-India opposition parties Nepali Congress (NC) and JSP fear that an amended citizenship law would ultimately reduce the population of the Terai region and diminish the southern plain's political sway.

"National well-being and national security are of paramount importance to any patriotic Nepali," said Minendra Rijal, a member of parliament who belongs to the pro-India Nepali Congress. "But let us not look for any possible excuse to become an introvert nation in today's world."
 
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screambowl

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Nepal cranks up anti-India politics with cross-border marriage bill
Amendment would force Indian wives to wait seven years to gain citizenship

KATHMANDU -- Nepal is ratcheting up tensions with its outsized neighbor to the south, eroding the regional clout of India in such a manner that if Delhi were to respond it would risk giving China more sway in the Himilayas.

Nepal's latest snub comes in the form of a long-dormant bill that would amend the country's Citizenship Act by requiring foreign women married to Nepali men to wait seven years before becoming naturalized citizens. The amendment was recently endorsed by a parliamentary panel and is now expected to sail through the lower and upper houses in the coming weeks.

The endorsement comes only weeks after Nepal redrew its national border to claim a Himalayan region at Nepal's northwestern tip as its own. India also claims sovereignty over this land. Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bhandari authenticated the map bill on June 18, giving it legal standing.


Sarita Giri, a native of India and a member of parliament belonging to the opposition Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP), may have coaxed the bill out of its dormancy when she, a naturalized citizen, introduced a counter amendment against the new map bill.

The episode was closely watched by Nepalis, who were suddenly wondering whether naturalized citizens should be allowed to be parliamentarians.

It also gave the pro-China ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) a golden opportunity -- to take a bill that had been languishing for two years and start moving it toward passage.

NCP leader and Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli is shepherding the bill. As he does so, the ruling party, which has a majority in parliament, is expected to gain more voter support ahead of elections in 2022.

The landlocked country has two long borders, one with India and the other with China. And most Nepalis are either in a pro-India camp or are grouped in another camp made up of independent-minded citizens and pro-China residents.

Most of the pro-India population lives along a southern plain known as the Terai region. Much of the pro-China/independent-minded population lives in the mountainous north.

North-south friction has been building up for decades now. In 1952, the population of the southern plain made up 35% of Nepal's total population. But by the time the census was taken in 2011, the figure was 50%. As a result, the northern population lost some of its political clout.

Cross-border marriages played a role. By 2011, 120,891 Indians -- 57,132 women and 63,759 men -- had acquired Nepali citizenship. Their numbers compare to the 2,572 Chinese nationals who gained Nepali citizenship and 15,447 from other nations who did likewise.

Pro-India opposition parties Nepali Congress (NC) and JSP fear that an amended citizenship law would ultimately reduce the population of the Terai region and diminish the southern plain's political sway.

"National well-being and national security are of paramount importance to any patriotic Nepali," said Minendra Rijal, a member of parliament who belongs to the pro-India Nepali Congress. "But let us not look for any possible excuse to become an introvert nation in today's world."

Indians are at fault. Apas mein hi ladtey rehty hai , sometimes mamta sometimes some madrasi leader some times khujli and some time amchi mumbai gang.. useless administrators!!
 

Saaho

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Dec 27, 2019
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Indians are at fault. Apas mein hi ladtey rehty hai , sometimes mamta sometimes some madrasi leader some times khujli and some time amchi mumbai gang.. useless administrators!!
Umm... Nope. Its classic case of China paying Nepali Oli to create mess for India.