Nepal cancelled its President’s May 9 visit to India and also recalled its Ambassador to India. In response, the Indian Prime Minister Modi decided not to attend the Buddhist functions of May 21 in Nepal. This is the latest crisis to emerge in the relations between the two nations after the fuel crisis died down. However, some Indian media outlets are pointing fingers at China, saying “this new round of anti-India propaganda in Nepal came with Prime Minister K P Oli’s government allowing China to expand its strategic footprint in the country.” “Hindustan Times” of May 10 even alleged that China is directly interfering from China in Nepali politics. “China is growing more powerful and indeed its influence is expanding,” said Sun Shihai, President of the Chinese Association of South Asian Studies in an interview to the “Global Times” reporter on May 11, but its policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations will remain unchanged.
Just 72 hours prior to her departure, Nepalese President Bhandari abruptly canceled her trip to India that was scheduled to commence on May 9. In the evening of May 6, Nepal issued a recall order to Upadhyay, its Ambassador in India, asking him to return to Nepal within two weeks. According to an “Indian Express” report, the reason behind this diplomatic crisis is Nepali government’s belief that India was plotting to overthrow Oli’s government. Nepalese side accused the Ambassador of failing to comply with government directives “and engaging in activities “detrimental to national interest “.
According to India’s “South Asia Watch” website report, Oli had finalized President Bhandari’s plan to visit India during his 2015 Indian trip and Upadhyay had played a key role in it. After the fuel crisis had subsided, Bhandari had told Nepalese media, “My trip to India is aimed at dissipating the mistrust between the two countries.” However, according to “The Hindu”, Upadhyay belongs to the opposition Nepali Congress Party, which together with CPN (Maoist) has been trying to overthrow the CPN (UML)’s Oli government. “The downfall of Oli government is just a matter of time.” India’s “Deccan Herald” reported that Upadhyay was accused of colluding with New Delhi to destabilize the Oli government.
There is bad blood between India and Nepal. But “Hindustan Times” reported on May 10 that at a time when Nepal has accused India of seeking to topple the current government of Nepal, Nepalese sources have revealed that China has played a role in ensuring the stability of Oli government. The newspaper said last Wednesday, CPN (Maoist) leader Prachanda had decided to withdraw support from the Oli-led government, but later he changed his mind. The reason behind this U-turn was “advice” from China.
“Hindustan Times” quoted informed sources as saying that Chinese diplomats resident in Kathmandu held talks with the CPN (Maoist) and CPN (UML) leaders and expressed the hope that Oli stays in power. The newspaper commented that even though exchanges between China and Nepal have steadily increased over the years, this is the first time Beijing has expressed a firm opinion on Nepal’s domestic political situation. Indian officials said they were assessing the situation, “If it is really so, it would indicate an unprecedented level of Chinese interventionism in Nepali politics.”
In an exclusive interview to “Hindustan Times”, Prachanda denied Chinese influence on his decision and said, “I had to rethink because of lack of internal preparations and the complex situation here.” Sun Shihai told “Global Times” reporter on May 11 that China’s direct interference in Nepal’s domestic politics is impossible. The political situation in Nepal has been volatile for a long time, but it has nothing to do with China. China has a long tradition of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, regardless of the political party in power. China continues to stand by it and supports the development of good relations between China and Nepal. China doesn’t treat India any differently.
“Japanese Economic News” commented on May 11 that after Indo-Nepal relations hit rock bottom because of the fuel crisis, ties between the two countries are once again staggering. This crisis has exposed the deep cracks in bilateral relations between Nepal and India. “South Asia Watch” said India has been alternating its roles between the good and the bad Samaritan in the Nepali government. However, after the fuel crisis, Nepalese government and people have developed a sense of deep distrust towards India.
Nepalese Foreign Ministry spokesperson told “Times of India” on May 10 that recalling the Ambassador will not affect the India Nepal relationship. Sun Shihai told the “Global Times” reporter that the strengthening of cooperation between China and Nepal cannot be blamed for the discord between India and Nepal. India is bogged by its narrow notion of zero-sum game geopolitics. China does not want Nepal to take advantage of the mistrust or the competition between the two great powers and at the same time does not want itself to exploit the bad relations between India and Nepal.
As for the relations between China, Nepal and India, China stands for treating all the countries equally irrespective of their sizes. It advocates that Nepal can serve as a friendly bridge between China and India and in the long run, friendship among these three nations is very important.