border review | 27 July 2011

Dixit on China's interest in Nepal: Between sycophancy & adventurism

Kanak Mani Dixit for Republica:

Till recently, one would have been correct to hold the view that India and China competed and collaborated at such a stratospheric level that the ‘China card’, which former king Gyanendra and Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal sought to use, was a mistaken effort. Not so any more, it seems. It is clear that the relationship has been ‘upgraded’ by Beijing from benign amity to strategic friendship.

This is a good analysis, I find. Dixit is also among the very few who take up the cudgels on behalf of the people living in the borderlands:

Beijing seems insensitive to the fact that Nepal’s relationship with the Tibetans goes back millennia, and that Vajrayan Buddhism as well as the Bon Po faith are shared across the Himalayan rimland. Just because the borderland Bhotiya or ‘Himali’ communities have been marginalized by the Kathmandu state throughout its history and do not yet have a united voice does not mean that their sensibility should be neglected by Kathmandu – in terms of faith and crossborder access.

And finally, Dixit has his doubts about the ultimate success of Beijing’s Nepal policy:

Of course, whether aggressive or benevolent, Chinese diplomacy is meant to serve China and not Nepal. The question one may ask is whether Beijing’s ‘stability-first’ policy on Nepal is sufficiently thought-through, given that Nepal’s modern history and plural demography point to nothing less than a democratic future. In other words, a neat authoritarianism led by a radical party may be wishful thinking; no one can push back Nepal’s rambunctious open society, which is our formula for growth, progress – and stability.