Concern on Implementation of BRI in Nepal, a Challenge to New FM

Bidhur Dhakal

Nepal is running behind the political hurdles after the formation of the New Government in 2022. The hunk parliament from the election held in 2022 has created political turmoil in Nepal. Soon after the electoral election coalition has break up and a New coalition with a majority of the leftist government was formed. The coalitions remained until the election of the President and were broke. The largest communist party in the coalition has stepped back.

In this context, the country is lagging in foreign relations and foreign policy. For about one and a half-month foreign ministry was vacant. During this period there was a lagging of ministerial dialogue with the ‘Counter Part’ of other nations. It impacts Bilateral relations and enhances foreign affairs.

This shows the irresponsible attitude of the leadership on foreign affairs. The political instability in Nepal is always been a concern of China. With the formation of New Govern in Nepal, the US engagement was in hype at the start of 2023. Soon after the change in the coalition vacant, the line ministry Nepal lags in engaging with the friend from the North.

China has been concerned about Nepal’s political changes, especially with the US asking questions about the impact of the Tibetan refugee crisis. Communist leader Bhandari expressed his feelings that the Communist Party of China (CPM) was not only in China but also in good faith in the government. China is sure of Nepal. The national leader met him today.

There is long-term lasting concern about the “Tibet Issue” in Nepal for China. The US official engagement in Kathmandu has raised it more. Next, the implementation of the BRI in Nepal. The US program MCC, which was agreed upon late after BRI, has been ratified by parliament and is going on implementation. BIR, on the other hand, is not able to proceed. China has communicated with Nepal concerning this issue regularly.

The congratulatory message from President Xi Jinping to newly elected Nepalese counterpart Ramchandra Paudel has attached great importance to the development of China-Nepal relations and is willing to work with Poudel to carry forward the traditional friendship between the two countries, consolidate mutual political trust, advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges, to constantly promote the strategic partnership of cooperation featuring ever-lasting friendship for development and prosperity. On the 15th Round of the Diplomatic Consultation meeting held between Nepal and China early this month, China again raised the issue of the implementation of BRI.

Challenge for New Minister

The member of the central working committee of the Nepali Congress party, Narayan Prakash Saud assumed the office of Foreign Minister in mid of April. A foreign affair is a new area for Saud, who has been entrusted with the responsibility of strengthening foreign relations by winning the trust of Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal as well as balancing great power. It will be his responsibility to maintain balanced foreign relations by closely observing the growing geopolitical ups and downs internationally.

Soon after assuming office at the Ministry, Minister Saud said that He said Nepal would continue to deepen relations with all its neighbours. Saud has taken charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a time when the country’s challenge is to maintain balanced relations with India and China, which are emerging economies of different political systems, and to increase relations with other countries, including the US, in line with the national interest in the changing geopolitical environment.

Foreign relations have to be managed in the context of internal political instability in Nepal and a coalition government between different political parties. Powers, including neighbours, are also trying to manage their interests. At such a time, it will be the responsibility to move forward with a non-aligned foreign policy. Nepal this time needs to avoid the geopolitical conflict of dominance in the US, China, and other countries in the world.

Nepal has not given a clear answer to Beijing regarding the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project initiated by China. Nepal signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2017 to join the BRI project. Similarly, Minister Saud has been challenged to clarify Nepal’s position on the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and The Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) initiated by China. As Nepal has participated in the US ‘Summit for Democracy’; which mainly focused on labelling China as “autocratic”.

Mainly the US is tending Nepal to be a part of the Indo-Pacific strategy Nepal now need to clear the position of non-align in International relation. But, seem it is a major challenge for the New foreign minister. He should lead the ministry keeping in mind relations with the two neighbours, powers, development partners, and other friendly countries.

This article is initially published in the Asia Live.

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