Implications of Nepal-China road connectivity deal

  • Category
    India & world
  • Published
    22nd Oct, 2019

Context

Recently, Nepal and China ink road connectivity deal when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited China.

About

  • Nepal and China have decided to construct rail link connecting the Tibetan capital Lhasa to Nepal’s capital Kathmandu
  • A 28-km Kerung-Kathmandu road tunnel is also proposed to cut the distance short between Kathmandu and Chinese border.
  • President Xi promised Upgradation of the Arniko highway that links Kathmandu with Tatopani transit point which was badly damaged in 2015 earthquake.
  • Assistance to the tune of 56 billion (Nepalese) rupees over the next two years to help Nepal’s development programmes.
  • Nepal and China has also signed around 20 deals covering water supply, trade, traditional medicines. 
  • China wants to support Nepal in realizing its dream to become a land-linked country from the landlocked country.

Concerns for India

  • Nepal is a wedged between China and India. So being a landlocked nation, Nepal is trying to diversify its relations and less dependence on India.
  • For Nepal, China serves as a potential supplier of goods and assistance that it badly needs in order to recover its economy. Indian companies in Nepal will face stiff competition from Chinese companies.
  • 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 can’t replace India in Nepal?

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