China building network of loyalists in Nepal’s government

Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari hosts a grand farewell ceremony for Chinese President Xi Jinping at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Oct. 13, 2019. (Photo courtesy: Xinhua)

(, Aug24’20) – The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu has been slowly but steadily building a network of loyalists who would do China’s bidding possibly even at the cost of Nepal’s own interests, according to Roland Jacquard of Global Watch Analysis writing on his group’s official website Doles are given out to them, often on the pretext of legitimate jobs undertaken for the embassy. He sees this as a part of China’s policy of corrupting the political class of countries, especially those that are economically fragile, as a means to carry out Beijing’s interests.

He has noted that the Embassy of China in Kathmandu gave a contract of Nepali Rupees 1.5 million (approximately Euro 10500) to Rajan Bhattarai, a member of the ruling NCP and currently Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s Foreign Affairs Adviser, for a research paper on Nepal–India relations. Tellingly, when the project was commissioned in Oct 2017, Bhattarai was a member of the Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India Relations and the Chairman of the Nepal Institute for Policy Studies. Under the contract, Rajan Bhattarai’s wife Geeta Gautam was the Project Coordinator, while he would oversee the project. And the fund for the task was stated to been paid into Bhattarai’s account in Nabil Bank.

It was what China would call ‘a win win’ arrangement, as it not only engaged a senior NCP functionary in a financial transaction but also came with an added understanding of Nepal’s policies towards India.

Bhattarai continued to maintain contact with Li Yingqiu, a Chinese diplomat posted in Kathmandu, even after he was appointed as Foreign Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister by Oli in Nov 2018. However, whether China influenced his appointment is open to speculation, Jacquard has noted.

With Nepal’s Prime Minister’s office, including its senior advisers, known to have established a transactional relationship with China, serious doubts remain about the autonomy of the government and its ability to take independent decisions, Jacquard has said.


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