Troubling develoments in Nepal

Frederick Stakelbeck, Jr., whose work has appeared here a number of times, has written a disturbing but important analysis of Nepal's growing strategic and military ties with China, in the wake of the seizure of absolute power by King Gyanendra last February. The United States and India put pressure on Nepal's king by reducing aid, but in response he has sought and received military aid from China, and is clearly being courted by Beijing.

Nepal is bordered to the south by India and to the north by Tibet, which China occuppies and claims as an integral part of China. Talk of construction of north—south highways, railways, and information pipelines linking China and Nepal has obvious military significance to India, which has fought border conflicts with China, and which abhors any possible absorption of Nepal into the Chinese sphere of influence.

Nepal has been fighting Maoist guerillas for many years. It is unclear what, if any role this ongoing battle plays in its strategic playing of footsie with China. Despite spectacular mountain scenery and prminence among backpacker and trekker tourists, Nepal remains a desperately poor nation, landlocked and caught as a buffer state between two emerging superpower nations of a billion each. It is quite natural for Nepal to attempt to play them off against each other.

But China plays for keeps (ask Tibetans in exile), and is completely comfortable with a tyrant who suppressed democratic reforms in his own country. The potential for serious mischief is enormous.

Thomas Lifson  1 03 05

Frederick Stakelbeck, Jr., whose work has appeared here a number of times, has written a disturbing but important analysis of Nepal's growing strategic and military ties with China, in the wake of the seizure of absolute power by King Gyanendra last February. The United States and India put pressure on Nepal's king by reducing aid, but in response he has sought and received military aid from China, and is clearly being courted by Beijing.

Nepal is bordered to the south by India and to the north by Tibet, which China occuppies and claims as an integral part of China. Talk of construction of north—south highways, railways, and information pipelines linking China and Nepal has obvious military significance to India, which has fought border conflicts with China, and which abhors any possible absorption of Nepal into the Chinese sphere of influence.

Nepal has been fighting Maoist guerillas for many years. It is unclear what, if any role this ongoing battle plays in its strategic playing of footsie with China. Despite spectacular mountain scenery and prminence among backpacker and trekker tourists, Nepal remains a desperately poor nation, landlocked and caught as a buffer state between two emerging superpower nations of a billion each. It is quite natural for Nepal to attempt to play them off against each other.

But China plays for keeps (ask Tibetans in exile), and is completely comfortable with a tyrant who suppressed democratic reforms in his own country. The potential for serious mischief is enormous.

Thomas Lifson  1 03 05