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Testing time

By Our Reporter
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said that soon he is visiting India to improve relations.
Although the South Block has already made public Oli’s visit schedule (6 to 8 April), Oli didn’t disclose his visit date.  South Block had informed Oli’s visit schedule to a group of visiting journalists from different broad-sheet dailies publishing from Kathmandu in Delhi. So far, the Foreign Minister said that the visit date has not been officially confirmed by the government.
What is Oli formula to make better Nepal-India relations, Oli has not made clear. The Indian concern is increasing presence of China in Nepal. Indians have even remarked that such a presence of China is a serious security threat for India. In the meantime, China has given green signal on construction of Nepal-China cross-border railway line from Kerung to Lumbini via Kathmandu and Pokhara. This has become serious headache for the Indians.
Accordingly, during his first tenure as the PM, during his visit to Beijing, Oli had inked different agreements including agreements for trade, transportation and transit. China is keenly waiting for endorsement of those impending agreements.
China has shown interest for investing in Budhigandaki and West Seti megha hydropower projects. The previous government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba had scrapped the government decision allowing construction of the Budhigandaki project to China, which has seriously hurt the Chinese government.
Obviously, Indians will try to influence Oli from stopping him from implementation of the above mentioned agreements. How will Oli tackle this situation, it has to be seen.
Oli, during the general elections, was able to cash his patriotic stance by securing two-thirds majority in the parliament. Nepali people are dreaming for raiding the rail, trading with the world via the Chinese seaports, construction of key hydropower projects by bringing Chinese investment, etc. This is the reason that people voted for the UML and Maoist Center alliance during the general elections. How far Oli is going to respect public aspirations, patriotic Nepali people are minutely observing.
Chinese observation:
As far as Nepal is considered security sensitive zone by the Indians, equally, Nepal is security sensitive zone for the Chinese as well. Whether the Oli government will be able to address concerns of both the giant neighbours, both the neighbours are watching closely.
Furthermore, Chinese are also watching PM Oli’s foreign policy priorities. There is no problem for China if Nepal wishes equidistance policy with both the neighbours but what is the definition of equidistance foreign policy, Chinese are trying to get answer from the Nepal government. On the one hand, Nepal’s borders are opened with India and citizens from each other’s country can cross the borders and stay in each other’s county without any restriction. On the other, Nepal’s borders with China are not opened as like the borders with India. Also, citizens from each other’s country cannot visit each other’s country without travel document and they cannot stay longer than the permitted date. Is this an equidistance policy?
Visit of the Chinese President:
Our Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be visiting Nepal soon. Sure, the Indian prime minister may pay a visit after Oli’s visit to India. But on what basis Minister Gyawali informed to the press that the Chinese President is visiting Kathmandu, Gyawali has not made clear.
The Chinese President may visit Kathmandu only if there will be major breakthrough in Nepal-China bilateral relations. The Chinese President is one among the most powerful leader in the globe. Organising visit of such a powerful and busy leader by Nepal like country will be a great achievement. Of course, China has given special priority to the neighbouring countries and visit of the Chinese President in neighbouring countries is a foreign policy priority of China. Therefore, one can hope that President Xi may visit Nepal but our leaders have to do hard homework to organize visit of the Chinese President.
President Xi Jinping is going to address the Boao Forum for Asia and China was expecting our executive chief KP Sharma Oli’s participation there. However, sources closed Oli say that Oli has decided for not attending the Boao Forum conference, the very Forum’s founding ceremony was attended by our late King Birendra and later the Boao Forum for Asia conference was attended by then King Gyanendra by giving special priority to the Nepal-China bilateral relations. Is this PM Oli’s equidistance foreign policy, Chinese may question.
In conclusion, PM Oli is passing through a testing period both for the patriotic Nepalis and for Nepal’s well wishing foreign friends.

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