2020 has been a frantic year for every nation due to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, even more so for Nepal, as its Communist PM Oli decided to start a love affair with China at the expense of India, and immediately repented his decision as China being the expansionist state that it is, started eating Nepalese territories, which prompted Nepal to come back to India’s fold in order to counter the Chinese threat. Now, Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat has sent a stern warning to Nepal as he urged the country to be wary of China and learn from Sri Lanka.
CDS Bipin Rawat while asserting the fact that, “India’s goodwill comes with no strings attached” warned Nepal to be wary of China and learn from Sri Lanka while speaking at an event. He said that while Nepal is free to act independently in international affairs, however, the nation must be vigilant and learn from Sri Lanka and other nations who have also signed agreements with other countries in the region.
CDS Rawat’s statement comes just before Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali is set to visit India later this month. It is pertinent to note that Nepal and India have been closely engaging with each other as in the past two months, Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Samant Kumar Goel have all visited Nepal for various purposes.
For the uninitiated, the Sri Lankan government in 2017, had to hand over Hambantota port to a state-run Chinese firm in 2017 for a lease of 99 years as a part of a debt swap totalling USD 1.2 billion.
Fresh after the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the Sri Lankan President, Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage said the decision to give Hambantota port on a 99-year lease to China was a “mistake”.
“President (Gotabaya Rajapaksa) has stated that in terms of strategic security, we will follow an ‘India first’ policy. We cannot afford to be a strategic security threat to India and we don’t have to be. We need to benefit from India. The president has clearly said that you are our first priority as far as security is concerned but I have to deal with other players for economic prosperity,” said Jayanath Colombage in a television interview.
Nepal would be well advised to learn from Sri Lanka’s mistakes and not fall into the Chinese debt-trap for its own good.