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Nepal adopts US grant programme over China’s objections

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(TibetanReview.net, Feb28’22) – In what may come as an embarrassment to China, Nepal’s Parliament has approved on Feb 27 a $500 million US government grant programme that it had strongly objected to, seeing it as a rival to its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and as a geopolitical challenge.

The speaker of Nepal’s Parliament, Agni Prasad Sapkota, announced that a majority had approved by a voice vote the implementation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact (MCC Compact), which was signed between Nepal and the US government in Sep 2017, reported the wsj.com Feb 27.

The approval was made with the inclusion of an “interpretative declaration” to address the concerns of those who feared that provisions of the five-year MCC Compact otherwise impinged on Nepal’s Sovereignty.

Tabling the MCC Compact otherwise threatened to topple the country’s coalition government due to opposition mainly from the coalition’s communist partners known for their close proximity to Beijing.

The five-point “interpretative declaration” includes a provision that the parties will not consider MCC Compact a part of US military strategy (IPS). The parties have also said the MCC Compact will not be above Nepal’s constitution and laws.

Also, the ruling coalition has said the MCC Compact will be taken only as financial assistance, and that the audit should be done by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of Nepal.

MCC Compact is aimed at maintaining road quality, increase the availability and reliability of electricity, and facilitate cross-border electricity trade between Nepal and India—helping to spur investments, accelerate economic growth, and reduce poverty.

“The decision by Parliament to follow through on its signed commitment and ratify the compact will mean more jobs for the Nepali people, a reliable supply of electricity, and lower transportation costs,” english.khabarhub.com Feb 28 quoted a statement issued by the US Embassy in Kathmandu as saying.

China’s official globaltimes.cn has condemned the MCC, which is a global programme, as being not in the receiving countries’ interest. It called the Nepal Compact a poisoned pact, a geopolitical pact targeting China, a trojan horse, and what not.

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