For years, Nepal depended on Indian telecom companies, such as Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications, for access to the worldwide web. The optical fiber line crosses into China from the Rasuwagadhi border point, northwest of Kathmandu.
Nepal’s Information minister Mohan Bahadur Basnet inaugurated the link in a ceremony in the capital, Kathmandu. “This will give us an alternative to India for cyber connectivity and ensure uninterrupted connections,” Pratibha Vaidya, a Nepal Telecom spokesperson told.
Work on a communications link to China was completed in December 2014, but it was completely destroyed in a devastating earthquake in April 2015.
More than 60 percent of Nepal’s 28 million people had access to the internet last year, up from just 19 percent in 2012.Both Asian giants China and India have been jostling to increase their influence in Nepal, a natural buffer separating them, by ramping up their investments in roads and hydropower projects in the impoverished country.
In 2016, Beijing agreed to allow Nepal to use its ports to trade goods with third countries, ending the latter’s sole dependence on India for overland trade.
Nepal last year joined the Belt and Road Initiative, which is China’s effort to develop a modern “Silk Road” connecting Asia with Europe, Middle East and Africa by road, railway, sea and air.