Implications of Nepal-China road connectivity deal
India & world
22nd Oct, 2019
Recently, Nepal and China ink road connectivity deal when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited China.
- 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.