India wary of Beijing's India-Nepal-China corridor plan

Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, mooted the proposal for a China-Nepal-India economic corridor after a meeting with his Nepalese counterpart Pradeep Gyawali in Beijing last Wednesday. Reuters Photo

India is more interested in working bilaterally with Nepal to develop connectivity projects between the two neighbouring nations, instead of joining any third country for a trilateral initiative.

New Delhi is likely to convey to Kathmandu and Beijing that India will rather focus on completing the infrastructure development and connectivity projects it has embarked upon across Nepal, sources said on Tuesday.

Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, mooted the proposal for a China-Nepal-India economic corridor after a meeting with his Nepalese counterpart Pradeep Gyawali in Beijing last Wednesday.

New Delhi, however, is likely to stay away from any such three-nation initiative.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Kathmandu on May 11. He is likely to convey to Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli that New Delhi would continue to support the development of the neighbouring country through bilateral cooperation, not through any trilateral mechanism, involving any third country.

Modi hosted Oli in New Delhi earlier this month. The visit of Nepalese Prime Minister saw New Delhi promising to support building a rail-link between India and the capital of Nepal. New Delhi also agreed to support the landlocked country get access to the oceans through inland waterways.

New Delhi's decision to link Kathmandu with the rail-network of India is apparently a response to Beijing's move to build a rail-line connecting Lhasa and Gyirong in Tibet Autonomous Region of China with the capital of Nepal. Beijing offered Kathmandu to help build the rail-line as a part Chinese President Xi Jinping's “Belt and Road Initiative”.

New Delhi is opposed to the Belt-and-Road initiative of China and lodged protests over its flagship component China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or the CPEC, which will link Kashgar in Xinjiang in north-western China and a deep sea port at Gwadar in Balochistan in south-western Pakistan. New Delhi has been opposed to the CPEC corridor, as it is proposed to pass through parts of Kashmir that India claims as its own and accuses Pakistan of illegally occupying.

Wang, who also holds the State Councillor's office in Chinese government, said last week that China, Nepal and India were “natural friends and partners” as they were neighbours to each other and “connected by mountains and rivers”. He said that China and India should have a consensus on supporting the development of Nepal. He noted that Nepal had a “reasonable and justifiable” desire to serve as the “bridge and bond” between India and China. He went on to hint that the prospects of China-Nepal-India economic corridor could be explored as a future extension of the BRI.

 

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