China warns Nepal of 'external interference' threat

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last week warned Nepal of "external interference" threatening the core interests of both countries. This warning came only a month after Kathmandu ratified a US aid grant termed by China as "coercive diplomacy". During talks with his Nepali counterpart Narayan Khadka, Wang reiterated Beijing's position of "non-intervention" and respect for the "sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity" of all countries. "China will work with Nepal to safeguard the principle of non-interference in internal affairs and ... resist unilateralism and oppose power politics, and contribute to regional peace and stability," the foreign ministry quoted Wang as saying. Wang Yi said that China will stick to its friendly policy toward Nepal and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with the South Asian country. He elaborated on China's support for Nepal in three aspects. "First, China will support Nepal in finding a development path suited to its national conditions. China's friendly policy is open to all parties and party factions, and the people of Nepal," he said. Wang claimed that China encourages all parties and party factions in Nepal to engage in inclusive consultation and cooperate with each other for the sake of the fundamental and long-term interests of the people.

Second, China supports Nepal in pursuing "independent domestic and foreign policies". China always believes that all countries are equal regardless of size, and respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries, he said. China believes that the affairs of Nepal should be decided by its people, he said, noting that China opposes any attempt to undermine Nepal's sovereignty and independence, interfere in its internal affairs and engage in geopolitical games in Nepal. "Third, China supports Nepal in furthering participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China and Nepal have made encouraging progress in jointly building the Belt and Road, which has significantly boosted Nepal's national construction," Wang said. During the Chinese Foreign Minister's visit to Nepal, the two countries failed to sign an agreement on BRI projects and the accompanying loans, with the Himalayan country asserting that it will not accept any project that comes with strings attached. A total of nine agreements were signed between Nepal and China after the delegation-level talks between Nepali Foreign Minister and his counterpart Wang Yi in wide-ranging areas including economic and technical cooperation, protocols on bilateral trade and people exchanges, and Chinese projects in Nepal. However, none of the agreements related to the BRI. Nepal signed up to the BRI Framework Agreement in May 2017 but not a single project has taken off due to several constraints including finalisation of the text of the project implementation agreement as well as strong protests from locals alleging land grabbing by the Chinese investors and inadequate compensation.