Nepal, China ink road connectivity deal

3 min read

News:Chinese President is on a visit to Nepal.

Facts:

Key takeaways from the visit:

  • India and China have decided to construct a 70-km (42-mile) rail link which will connect the Gyiron in Tibet with Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu.
  • A 28-km Kerung-Kathmandu road tunnel is also proposed to halve the distance between Kathmandu and Chinese border.
  • Chinese President has also promised to replenish the Arniko highway that links Kathmandu with Tatopani transit point.The highway was badly damaged in 2015 earthquake.
  • Nepal and China has also signed around 20 deals covering water supply, trade, traditional medicines. 

Why is Nepal increasing its interests in China?

  • Nepal is wedged between China and India.So being a landlocked nation, Nepal is trying to diversify its relations.
  • For Nepal,China serves as a potential supplier of goods and assistance that it badly needs in order to recover its economy.
  • The Madhesi agitation in 2015 had forced Nepal to explore trade links with China and reduce its long term dependence on India.
  • Lastly,another factor to increase the interest is China card which most of the south Asian countries are playing with India to gain the mileage in negotiations & counter India’s Big Brother approach.

Why China cannot replace India vis-à-vis Nepal?

  • India has an advantage of geography on its side. Chinese rail and port connectivity projects are not very feasible owing to the difficult terrain.
  • The nearest Chinese ports will be over 3000 km away while Kolkata and Visakhapatnam ports which Nepal currently uses are relatively closer.
  • India and Nepal has deep linguistic & cultural and religious affinity, whose trade or economic ties with China alone cannot entirely takeover.