Indo-Sino relations: Nepal is also a factor

Read a very interesting, informative piece at Huffington Post on Indo-Sino relations. The authors list three major reasons for friction between the two neighbours:

1) The disputed border: Having never formally resolved their lingering border dispute, both countries will continue to find the absence of a resolution an irritant that will underlay and influence the health of bilateral relations;

2) Naval rivalry in the Indian Ocean: As China seeks to project its power regionally, India’s navy will continue to be the only regional impediment to China’s blue water ambitions. Other countries in the region may object to China’s projection of sea power, but only India has the ability to challenge it; and

3) Pakistan: China’s continuing support of Pakistan’s military, and by extension its ability to remain an irritant on the subject of Kashmir, will remain a point of contention for India.”

Nepal's flag

Image via Wikipedia

They have missed out a very small but important part-Nepal.

Nepal may be insignificant economy, and military wise but the country’s geographic location,long shared history with India and China, and current political changes in the country makes it a very important part of the puzzle.

Nepal is nestled between India and China, and shares long wide open border with India. The open border has long been consider a curse and boon for the neighbours. Because of lack of proper management and policing, criminals, terrorists have abused the open borders-smuggling counterfeit currency and drugs, human trafficking and evading justice.

After Mumbai terrorist attacks, the open border issues is getting lot more attention. And rightly so, it is a security hole that needs to be fixed.

Open border is one of the many sore subjects in Indo-Nepal relations. There is also a huge cultural and historic baggage. Media frenzy over India’s alleged “underground activities against Nepal” is not helping either.Recent political changes in Nepal have also affected Indo-Nepal relations.

With centuries old monarchy replaced by a republic system, and a communist party(the Maoists) as leaders in the constituent assembly; India’s view of Nepal has changed. Nepal is no longer the ever trustworthy friend but a country in transition with very suspicious people in leadership role. Present Indian government is not comfortable with  Nepal’s Maoists-there have been many accusations(not proven) of Nepali Maoists aiding their Indian counterparts in their anti-government activities.

In midst of changing Indo-Nepal relations, enter China. After the country was declared a republic, the Chinese and Nepal are getting closer. And India is not so sure about this friendship which got a shot of vigour following Maoist victory in constituent assembly elections. Is Nepal turning into a Red Zone, with China behind the scence?-India is concerned.

Issue of Nepal , not be as big as how to deal with Pakistan or the border dispute, but it is for sure on the list of Indian and Chinese diplomats.

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