Wang’s briefing, US’s protest and Nepal’s position

By Gopal Khanal (KATHMANDU, 14 September 2019) – Minister for Communication and Information Technology and Spokesperson of the government Gokul Prasad Baskota said on Thursday that Nepal had not changed its stand on ‘Indo-Pacific Policy’.

According to the report of the United States government, IPP is its policy that emphasises on open and liberal society and helps in its promotion. However, strategic analysts have said that the IPP is a strategy, has a military nature and aims at ‘controlling’ China. Experts and even the countries in the Asia-Pacific region do not have similar opinion on it.

The issue of Indo Pacific Strategy (IPS) and Nepal’s views on it have resurfaced following the details of the talks between chairman of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi earlier this week in Kathmandu. The Government Spokesperson had just given voice to the official view of the government.

“Nepal has not deviated from its earlier stand on IPP. The government is behaving wisely with its neighbours and friendly nations as a sovereign country,” he had said.
The government should not bring the issue to the fore with its official stand since some forces are trying to create controversy out of the blue. It has raised suspicions whether it was a part of the series of planned attacks against the government, which has been formulating and implementing various policies with top priority to nationality and national interest.

Following his official visit to the United States in December last year, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali had said that he had talked about the Indo-Pacific region in a meeting with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo. He had clarified that there was no discussion about the IPS. Both the governments had termed the high-level visit, that happened after 17 years’ gap, a ‘historic’. However, a report on Indo-Pacific Strategy published later by the US government included Nepal in it.

In his interview with The Rising Nepal on August 29, US Ambassador to Nepal Randy W. Berry said that the IPS was the policy of the US government and no country, including Nepal was asked to join it. “Some people have analysed from the point of view that whether Nepal should join it or not. This is wrong because there is nothing to join at. It is just a name given to the policy,” he had said in the interview.
When the ambassador himself clarified his country’s policy, the issues should not be made an issue of debate.

At the same time, the views expressed by one of the chairs of the ruling party in a meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister should not be understood as the official views of the government. The government’s official opinions were exchanged during formal talks between Wang and FM Gyawali and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. Prachanda has talked about the relations between the two parties, not the government.
Prime Minister Oli in his briefings to the ambassadors has been saying that foreign policy that Nepal would not become a member of any ‘military alliance’.

Official view of the ruling NCP can be known from the constitution of the country and latest documents of the party. The latest report of the party had maintained that Nepal should give attention to the increased US military presence in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), tensions in the Korean Peninsula and activities against China in the name of so-called free Tibet.
It means that Nepal has the strength to make independent views on the burning issues in the neighbourhood and elsewhere in the world. Non-alignment and Panchasheel are the important foundations of our foreign policy. Nepal has maintained relationship with the neighbours and all other nations on the basis of sovereign equality. It is natural for India, China and the US governments to express their interest and try to promote it with Nepal government.
The main question is how Nepal should present itself in the regional and international forums. Nepal has adopted the policy ‘Friendship with all and enmity with none’. It is useless to instigate a debate on the issue since the government has brightened Nepal’s image at the international community while keeping the national interest at the centre.  

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