“The most grotesque intervention ever made by India was India’s intervention during framing of the Nepalese constitution, when a constitutional assembly has already adopted the constitution you went and asked them to change it, will you change your constitution if somebody told you? on top of this we put economic sanctions for five months. Part of the credit for China’s growing influence in Nepal must be given to India” said Prof. S.D. Muni, Professor Emeritus, JNU and former Indian Ambassador to Laos PDR. He was speaking at a seminar on ‘An Assessment of Nepal China Relations’ which was recently held at New Delhi’s India International Center.
Prof Muni who is a former member of National Security Advisory board of India felt that China’s South Asia policy especially its Nepal policy is partly driven by its uneasiness in its peripheral regions “China feels vulnerable in Sinkiang and Tibet; they are not very comfortable in Tibet that’s why they become very panicky when you utter the name Dalai Lama. They never thought 2008 happen in the way it did happen and since Nepal and South Asia borders these peripheral regions they want to ensure their cooperation. Besides the instability even if they want to develop and stabilize these areas they would need the cooperation of the surrounding countries.”
Dr Muni explained the economic and strategic reasons that mold China’s South Asia policy “The Chinese economy has almost reached saturation point, Chinese companies are looking for resources and new markets South Asia may not be very strong in primary products but it is a 1.6 billion strong market which is growing roughly at the rate of 5 to 6% annually. Then there is the ‘Malacca dilemma’- they want to get into the Indian Ocean, Chinese have repeatedly said ‘we have Malacca dilemma, we have to resolve it’ Chittagong, Humbantoda and some other South Asian ports could be part of the solution. Finally they don’t want the South Asian countries to gang up with the US and lastly they also want to keep India in its place.”
He further explained Nepal’s importance for stabilizing Tibet and its economic significance “China sees Nepal as a gateway to South Asia or a gateway to India to be precise even if India does not want to trade with China they can push their products through neighboring countries like Nepal. Secondly don’t forget that for almost three decades Nepal was a party to war in Tibet which was aided by Americans and partly by Indians, any situation of Tibet’s sovereignty can create a condition where these countries may join hands, that’s a great worry for China.”