Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
India and China sacrifice Nepal

When it comes to nationalistic agenda, the Nepali public has a tendency to rise in rage without rationalising. Unfortunately, this does not last long. Take the Kalapani issue. Both the government and the citizens had forgotten about it, but it seems to have remained in Indian memory. China's agreement with India on Kalapani proves that along with the annexation of Sikkim after 30 years, China's policy shift towards India will not just affect Nepal's geopolitics but will also have adverse effects on many other Indo-Nepal issues. At a time when Nepal has opened its territory for transit for both China and India, they have together been putting Nepal in a very difficult position. During the Chinese premier Wen Jinbao's visit to India last month, out of the 22 bilateral agreements, the border issue was regarded as the most significant and China reportedly approved India's control over Kalapani. The border protocol agreement made to develop mutual trust between the two countries mandates two additional border meetings annually at Spanggur Gap in the western region, Nathu La Pass in Sikkim and Burn La in the eastern region. At these meetings, the Chinese army will have to come down to Kalapani and Nepal will just have to watch the Chinese and Indian flags fly over its territory.

Nearly five years ago, the Chinese ambassador had said in a press meet that Kalapani belonged to Nepal. It seems like China has given India the green signal for encroachment in Kalapani. China's approval of Indian control over Kalapani came simultaneously with its support of Indian claim on Sikkim that China had been previously protesting.

China's support for India is out of vested business and trade interests. Trade is the priority for Beijing, not the sensitivity of the geographical integrity of a buffer state. China seems to have accepted that Nepal is in India's sphere of influence. Just like America and Britain are looking at Nepal through Indian eyes on the Maoist problem. But it cannot be denied that India does not want American presence in Nepal in the name of curbing the Maoists. Nepal is hurt with China's move because it has always supported and respected China's geopolitical integrity. Nepal has always backed China as is apparent from its closing down of Dalai Lama's Nepal office and has supported the Chinese position on Taiwan. Nepal should have benefitted from the improvement in relations between her two powerful neighbours but it seems to have been punished. But while such serious events are taking place, the government is mute. We really have to wonder what the so-called nationalistic government representatives are doing about this issue.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)