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China’s foreign minister likely to visit India after Nepal later this month

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(, Mar16’22) – China’s foreign minister and state councillor Wang Yi is likely to visit India later this month, following a planned trip to Nepal, according to Indian and Nepali media reports Mar 15-16. Both the visits are taking place in the backdrop of varying degrees of setback in China’s ties with the two countries.

The visit to Kathmandu over Mar 26-27 takes place after Nepal’s parliament recently approved the $500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact offered by the United States in Sep 2017 in the face of continued stiff opposition from China.

China sees the MCC Compact as a rival to its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deal with Nepal as well as a geostrategic challenge.

However, not a single project under the BRI has taken off in Nepal even five years after the signing of the framework agreement, noted a report Mar 15. Besides, Nepal’s communist coalition government collapsed last year despite strenuous Chinese efforts to patch up the differences between the rival factions which it had cobbled together earlier. The country is now ruled by a coalition led by Nepali Congress, which is seen to be closer to India.

The main purpose of Wang’s visit will be to push for the implementation of the BRI and sign at least two projects, the report said.

The major impediment to the selection and implementation of projects under the BRI was stated to be the lack of clarity on financing modality, with Nepal seeking donations and the Chinese insisting on providing soft loans. Nepal obviously does not want to fall into a debt trap, which could be politically suicidal for the government.

Accompanied by some senior leaders of the Communist Party of China, Wang will meet several leaders from the ruling and opposition parties, the report added.

* * *

The visit to India, if it materializes, will be the first by any minister from Beijing since the pandemic and the Galwan valley killings at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, India, in Jun 2020.

The two countries have continued to hold military-level as well as diplomatic-level talks in efforts to resolve the Ladakh situation without much success.

The border standoff in eastern Ladakh erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area. The face-off escalated after the Galwan Valley clashes on Jun 15, 2020, when at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed. A report had claimed that 42, and not four, Chinese soldiers were killed during the clashes, noted the Mar 16.

India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar made it clear month that New Delhi was engaged in talks with China on the Ladakh border issue with absolute clarity that it will not agree to any change in the status quo or any attempt to unilaterally alter the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the region, as being sought by China.

“So however complex it is, however long it takes, however difficult it is, I think that clarity is what guides us,” he had said during an interaction at a think tank in Paris.


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