High-level visits from China and India in Nepal: What does it indicate?

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India”s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla paid an official visit to Nepal on November 26-27. He visited at the invitation of his Nepalese counterpart Bharat Raj Paudyal.

China’s State Councilor and Defence Minister Wei Fenghe also visited Kathmandu for a day-long visit soon after the Indian foreign secretary completed his visit. Not to be left behind, China also sent its high-level officer after high-level visits from the Indian side. He visited Nepal when the rift inside the ruling Nepal Communist Party has widened. The Chinese movement inside Nepal has surged in recent days.

There are back to back high-level visits from India. The foreign secretary’s visit follows two recent high-level visits from India. Recently, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, Chief of the Army Staff, Indian Army, arrived in Nepal on November 4 on a three-day visit. It was the first high-level visit between the two neighbors since a border row hit ties earlier this year. Before that, Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), the external intelligence agency of India Chief Samant Kumar Goel paid a “surprise” day-long visit to Nepal in the third week of October.

A local saying describes Nepal as like “the grass lying between two elephants”; whether they fight or make love, it is the grass that will be trampled. These two global giants each have interests in Nepal; it is strategically important to both nations. Nepal is trapped between two warring two giants of India and China. The high-level visits from the both neighbors indicates the surging strategic rivalry between two giant nations inside Nepal. Both nations want to increase their clout.

China’s growing influence and movement in Nepal has stirred widespread inside India. So, India doesn’t want to ruin the relations with Nepal that has hit low due to the border disputes. China, an emerging global power also doesn’t want to compromise its regional dominance. China wants to dominate the world and India wants to be a regional leader but China doesn’t want India to be. In the process of its rise, China is putting greater emphasis on neighboring countries.

Recently, India and China signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation(BECA), the agreement that facilitates the exchange of classified and sensitive information and interoperability of forces. India also can easily access geospatial data which will be useful in a wide range of military aspects. So, this pact may also have raised concerns to China and it wants to know Nepal’s view and position.

The high-level visits from the both neighbors may have their own purpose and regions but both the countries want to increase dominance clout in the region.

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