Your search keywords:

Editorial: Time to heal

Editorial: Time to heal

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s upcoming Nepal visit (March 25-27) is a great opportunity to repair the strained bilateral ties. Nepal-China relations have been through choppy waters of late, hitting rock bottom after the parliamentary endorsement of the MCC compact. China publicly expressed its displeasure with the endorsement. Unconvinced the compact is not part of a larger American encirclement plan, Beijing also seems to believe that the current Deuba government is ‘pro-US’.

It won’t be easy to convince the Chinese that Nepal can prevent the compact’s undue use. Not that we should not try. Beijing had been led to believe that under no circumstance would the compact be endorsed. They would not have been happy with the way the last-minute American pressure seemed to have prevailed over their concerns. But Nepal and China have no option but to mend fences. China is Nepal’s one of only two neighbors and its only direct connection with the outside world besides India. For China, stability of Tibet remains a top priority—and something that will be difficult to ensure without Nepal’s help.

When Wang comes, Nepal is likely to ask for grants to build the nine projects agreed under the BRI. Though grants under the BRI are rare, China could still make a one-time exception to protect its traditional space in Nepal against American encroachment. If Nepal and China are indeed good friends, as each claims, they should understand each other’s compulsions. Moreover, there is not one bilateral issue between them that cannot be resolved through dialogue.

As a show of good faith, the Deuba government must immediately correct its mistake of not appointing an envoy to Beijing, something that has bothered the Chinese. Wang should also give a clear message that China respects sovereign Nepal’s decision, however unpalatable it might have been. It is also vital that during this visit Wang makes an effort to engage leaders from across the political spectrum and not be seen as favoring only those of certain persuasions. Such confidence-building measures will help increase trust on both sides. They will also create a positive momentum.