October Analysis: International Relations and Foreign Affairs

0 Comments


Nepal’s diplomatic endeavors has taken a pace, whether it be government level initiatives or party level linkage building with both India and China. India’s ruling party has appreciated and reciprocated Nepal’s effort in bridging the gap between the Nepali Congress and BJP. However, the relationship with China in the recent days is wavering. Nepal is striving to diplomatically resolve northern border issues with China. China has vehemently denied claims regarding border issues. However, China has announced to provide additional Covid-19 vaccine to Nepal to fight against the pandemic.

Timeline of Major Events

Date Events
October 4Ministry of Home affairs sent a letter to Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take diplomatic steps with China to resolve border issues in Humla
October 7Nepali Congress delegation visited New Delhi
October 8Nepali Congress delegation met India’ Minister of External Affairs
October 9Nepali Congress delegation met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister
October 19Nepal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs met
October 20/22/231.6 million doses of Vero Cell vaccines from China

China

The Border Dispute in Humla is an irritant in Sino-Nepal relations. According to the Home Ministry’s assessment, there are several issues along the Sino-Nepal Border in Humla. According to the report, state policy should address border challenges. The report suggests that the Chinese attempted to construct a 145 meters permanent canal within Nepali territory. Chinese has also fenced and wired pillars 6(1) and 10. Nepali nationals are likewise barred from using regions between pillars 5(2) and 4.

On October 4, the Ministry of Home Affairs wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) requesting that Nepal-China border disputes in Humla be handled amicably through diplomatic initiatives. According to the Nepal-China boundary protocol, joint border inspections must be undertaken every ten years. The most recent joint border examination took place in 2006. As per Joint-secretary Jay Narayan Acharya establishing encroachment involves a collaborative study and careful investigation.

However, China always has denied any border encroachment on Nepal’s northern border. The Chinese Embassy’s spokesperson stated that the report does not corroborate the Nepal-China boundary dispute. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Nepal and China’s boundary treaty. The border has been free from any dispute since its inception. The continual denial of China in recognizing boundary disputes in Nepal’s northern border may create difficulties in resolving the issue. This may cause strain the relations between the two countries.

Further, the strategic partnership between China and Nepal has barely progressed in the last two years. The analysts say that the term ‘strategic partnership’ is ambiguous. Even the Trade and Transit agreement signed in 2019 is unimplemented as the standard operating procedure is not formulated yet.

Nevertheless, Nepal and China are still putting efforts to maintain the relationship between the two. In a telephone conversation Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reaffirmed his full support to Nepal. He stated that he wanted to truly protect multilateralism, resist interference in the country’s internal affairs, counteract unilateralism, and cooperate with Nepal on the issues of common interest between the two countries and regions. Minister Wang also declared that Nepal would get further vaccine assistance in the battle against the battle.

Health worker administering vaccine against Corona at Shrikot Health Post in Baitadi. Photo: RSS

China is providing 1 million doses of the Sino Vac Covid-19 vaccine as a grant to Nepal. China is also giving 5 million RNB worth of medical aid to improve our health system and prepare for the third pandemic wave. Additionally, Nepal Army is receiving 300,000 doses of vaccine from China as a grant. 1.6 million doses of the Vero Cell vaccine reached Kathmandu on October 20, 22, and 23.

India

Nepal appears to be warming up relations with India recently, especially party to party relations. India also has welcomed such efforts of Nepal; since Bhutan and China signed an MOU of accelerating negotiations on their border dispute, it has become imperative for India to maintain a good relationship with all its neighbors. Nepali Congress had invited Vijay Chauthiawale (BJP’s Foreign Affairs Department head) and Ram Madhav (BJP national general secretary) to Nepal last month.  As a reciprocal gesture, Vijay Chauthaiwale also invited a few Nepali congress leaders. A three-member delegation led by Prakash Saran Mahat (joint party secretary), including Udaya Shumsher Rana and Ajaya Chaurasia, visited New Delhi on October 7. They met BJP’s President JP Nadda, National General Secretary Arun Singh, Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishakar, and Vijay Chauthaiwale.

The delegation in the meeting with Jaishankar on October 8 discussed the “Tuin Incident” of Darchula. Minister Jaishankar gave an affirmative response and stated that an investigation would be carried out. The meeting also focused on border disputes, supply of manure, import of Covid-19 vaccine, and many other issues. The delegation’s visit is significant. BJP has not engaged in Party-level talks with Nepal’s major political parties in a long time. The Nepali congress also had a gap in building relations-building endeavors. Further, both the parties hold are fundamentally similar ideologies, and that could make such engagements easier. The Nepali Congress has been attempting to strengthen ties with the ruling party of India since 2014. The delegation also met Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister, Adityanath Yogi, who has deep ties with numerous Hindu temple organizations and Hindu rights parties. Apart from deliberating on the security issues, Chief Minister Yogi stressed the importance of Nepal conserving and preserving its culture and religion. He also stated that both countries’ governments should prioritize building relations between their people, who share the same religion and culture. He said that helping Nepal and resolving its problem should be a top priority for India.

Nepal and India are striving to bolster bilateral relations on various fronts. On October 22, India handed over the railway to Nepal and signed an operating procedure for the railway’s operations in October. However, the railway has not been operational due to a lack of relevant laws and personnel resources. India’s Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. would also give 25 employees to run the rail for a year. After that, Nepali staff will take over the running of the service.

Furthermore, A delegation led by Tirtha Raj Wagle (Chief and Joint Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ South Asia Division), experts from the Ministry of Defense, and the Nepal Army is attending a military security meeting with India in Bangalore on November 27.

However, there are still issues that need to be addressed through a diplomatic process. A team led by Dev Karan Kalwar and Bikram Khanal, shedding light on the border dispute in the Susta area, submitted a memorandum to Home Minister Balkrishna Khand demanding demarcation of the Nepal-India border area by installing fenced pillars. Additionally, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) requested the MoFA to take diplomatic steps with India to conduct a population census in Kalapani, Limpiyadhura, and Lipulekh. The MoFA has not confirmed the status of the request of the CBS regarding the same.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.