China and India are in the process of rejuvenating their powers in terms of both economy and military in the world. Nepal, a relatively weaker and poorer country is located strategically between these two giants. Though these three countries had shared a cordial relationship for ages, friction in the relationship between China and India have arisen frequently, primarily due to but not limited to border disputes, trade imbalance, China’s support to Pakistan. Nepal has amicable relations with both the neighbors. Nepal has a special brotherly relation with India historically but has witnessed the chilly relations in recent years due to political interference from India, economic blockade, border disputes, and a wide range of bilateral issues. Meanwhile, China has been increasing its engagement and close ties with Nepal over the years with fresh investments and financial aid. The incumbent government led by Nepal Communist Party headed by KP Sharma Oli has reinforced the relations to new heights with Beijing through myriads of agreements while distancing from New Delhi. After the recent Galwan valley clashes between Chinese and Indian troops, Relations between Beijing and India have reached a historic low since the Sino-Indian war of 1962.
With more than 37% of the world population residing in these countries, which have more than half of Asia’s GDP, there is enormous potential for these nations. There are more areas for cooperation than for confrontation due to shared geography, common problems to tackle issues like poverty, climate change, governance, unemployment, and food security, ambition to make the nation and people prosperous. As a famous saying states that Friends can be changed but neighbors cannot. India, China, and Nepal must realize that there are no other options than to work together for the common good and prosperity of their citizens. Having sandwiched between these two giants, Nepal has always been at odds in trying to maintain the balance between these two geopolitical rivals. For acing that, Nepal can act as a bridge between two geo-political rivals so that they maintain friendship and harmony among themselves. The power of the elephant and the dragon can only leap forward if they live with understanding, open borders, close connectivity, boosting of trade, increase in investments, the conduct of business, and collaborate in the areas of science, technology, people to people contact and common good among each other. For example, Nepal-India-China economic
corridor can be a viable economic integration between these three nations. All of these nations must recognize and respect each other’s interests as well as concerns like security, economy, territorial integrity, and sovereignty, and play a pro-active role to realize Trilateralism that benefits all the people of the region and beyond. (Rai, 2019)
At the webinar experts from Nepal, India and China will discuss the current situation of these three neighboring countries and possible avenues for future co-operation that can create win-win situation for all the countries.
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Professor and Director, Nepal Study Center, Heibei University of Economics and Businesss
Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor Mid Western University and Chairperson, Nepal Institute of Foreign Affairs and Prosperity (NIFAP)