By Ai Jun (Global Times, 13 March 2018) – Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who was appointed to the post in February, won a historic vote of confidence with a three-quarters majority in the House of Representatives at Nepal’s Federal Parliament on Sunday, according to The Kathmandu Post. Such overwhelming support will guarantee the nation’s political stability. For a country which has run through 11 prime ministers since 2006, this is without doubt good news. Collaboration between China and Nepal will also have more opportunities.
Reports show that implementing the agreements signed with Beijing during Oli’s first tenure as prime minister between 2015 and 2016 will be top on his agenda and include extending the Qinghai-Tibet railway to Lumbini, Nepal, through Shigatse city of Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.
The planning was not designed on a whim.
In 2005, the last King of Nepal Gyanendra Shah raised his vision of Nepal as a “transit economy,” bridging China and India. He hoped to take a ride with China’s development. Connecting the country to China’s railway routes was thus an effective approach. Former Nepalese ambassador to China, Mahesh Kumar Maskey, once said that if Nepal could attract one-tenth of the 23 million tourists who visited Tibet in 2016, the nation’s economy would benefit greatly.
Extending the railway will also help promote the Beijing-led Belt and Road initiative. When Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Nepal in 2014, he expressed China’s willingness to explore the possibility of trilateral cooperation between China, Nepal and India. But New Delhi shelved the suggestion.
Now Nepal is in great need of development to break away from poverty. Oli’s agenda will lay a political agenda for the country to realize the goal through getting involved in the Belt and Road initiative.
Meanwhile China is making efforts in the same direction. During the ongoing two sessions, legislators from Tibet suggested that the region should keep opening up, simultaneously and vigorously promoting the development of Lhasa and Shigatse. The approach can accelerate the pace of opening up China to South Asian countries, activating the economic development of the entire peripheral region.
But New Delhi displayed a sour-grapes mind-set with its media asking “Is it the end of India’s special relationship with Nepal?” Just like two years ago when Oli visited China in March 2016, many Indian netizens worried that “Modi has lost Nepal.”
China is not fighting India for sphere of influence. Neither will Beijing block New Delhi’s effort to establish equal relations with other nations. Quite a few South Asian countries are marred by difficulties with infrastructure construction, but India alone cannot provide ample assistance. Therefore South Asian nations generally treat the Belt and Road initiative as a chance to boost their region’s economic growth and maintain peace in the area, which in the long run will benefit India’s neighboring diplomacy and peripheral stability as well.