See More on Facebook

Opinion, Politics

When it comes to foreign policy, Nepal should look beyond just India and China

Jun 15, 2018-Nepal’s foreign policy under Prime Minister  KP Oli has been a matter of serious discussion in the public domain.


Written by

Updated: June 15, 2018

Given Oli’s past public remarks and the joint election manifesto of the then CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre with regards to Nepal’s foreign policy, it is posited that Oli may fail to balance relations with the country’s immediate neighbours, India and China. The Oli-led communist government may follow a China-friendly foreign policy, jeopardising the much-hyped Nepal-India relations. Oli has maintained that his government would prioritise balanced relations with India and China, promote Nepal’s national interests and work to achieve economic development and prosperity keeping in mind the principles of Panchasheel, non-alignment, UN Charter and international law.
India-China centric

On closer scrutiny, Oli’s foreign policies do not offer much novelty. Like his predecessors, Oli too is focused on balancing relations with neighbours. But unlike other contemporary leaders of Nepal, Oli is a seasoned politician and an astute diplomat. Soon after he landed in Baluwatar, Oli  wasted no time in mending ties with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with whom relations had been fraught post the 2015 blockade. To the dismay of many, he chose India as his first foreign visit destination since taking office. Moreover, Modi’s reciprocal visit soon after added meaning to Oli’s diplomatic optics.

Indulging as he did at great lengths with India, Oli demonstrated diplomatic prudence, thereby nullifying speculations that he might tilt towards China. The high-level visits within the short span of time, the language and body language of Oli and Modi during their respective visits, the agreements and understandings reached upon, the closure of the Indian Embassy’s field office in Biratnagar, the foundation stone-laying of Arun III hydro project—all these demonstrate Oli’s prowess at improving relations with India to some extent.

Attaching equal importance, Oli is visiting China next week and the Chinese side expects that the bilateral relationship will be further strengthened by the visit. Oli is confident about his relations with China, so he will do his level best to make the upcoming visit fruitful. China will definitely make further efforts to deepen its ties with Nepal during Oli’s visit given its ever increasing strategic and diplomatic interests in Nepal and the South Asia region as a whole. China has some strategically important pet projects in areas of hydro power and transportation including the Belt and Road Initiative. Therefore, Oli’s upcoming China visit will have long-term and significant implications for Nepal-China relations. Considering the policy statements, recent India visit and the upcoming China visit, it is safe to assume that Oli’s foreign policy is indeed India-China centric.

Look beyond neighbourhood

No matter how successful Oli has been in reorienting Nepal’s diplomatic relations with the two giant neighbours, his diplomatic outlook is but a continuation of the past governments in the last two decades. To his credit, Oli has committed to explore opportunities in the extended neighbourhood and diversifying Nepal’s relations with major international actors in areas of trade, transit and investment. Such commitments are positive in principle, but we are yet to see him traverse beyond the immediate neighbourhood.

There is no denying that Nepal should diversify its terms of engagement with India and China given the increasing influence of both the countries in diplomatic, economic and military aspects in regional and global contexts. But Nepal would do well to move beyond the periphery of India and China and engage more with the outside world to maintain its sovereignty, stability and prosperity. Though the US and other Western countries are losing their foothold in the global power structure, they remain as important as before in the Nepali context. Likewise, Nepal should also strengthen its diplomatic relations with labor-receiving countries in Middle East and East Asia that have less strategic interests in Nepal but can contribute to the country’s development efforts.

Transforming agendas  

Much of the past two decades in Nepal went into managing conflict and a protracted political transition. As national and international actors alike remained deeply engaged with such political issues, matters of economic development and prosperity took a back seat. However, following the promulgation of the new constitution and the subsequent three tiers elections (federal, provincial and local) economic development and prosperity have emerged as the sine qua for the government. Even the then left alliance succeeded in winning the elections based on the popular slogan of economic development and prosperity.

Oli has been advocating for infrastructure development, connectivity, railways, roadways, waterways, hydro projects and foreign investment for development and prosperity. Like with New Delhi, he is expected to sign some more connectivity agreements with Beijing during his upcoming visit. He has appealed to the international community to support economic development of Nepal, but a mere appeal will not be sufficient for international economic cooperation. The government should put appropriate economic and investment policies in place to create an environment conducive for international support. The fulfilling of national objectives, therefore, is dependent on how robustly the government furthers its economic diplomacy.

All in all, the Oli government should comprehensively revise and redefine its foreign policy, taking into account the changing national, regional and global contexts. While balancing the relations between India and China is an imperative, it should also not forgo relations with the rest of the world. Only when government actively pursues Nepal’s national interest—a buzzword of the current government—with well thought out plans and neatly crafted policies can we expect substantial changes in our foreign policy as well as in our outlook towards India and China.

By Geja Sharma Wagle



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Kathmandu Post
About the Author: The Kathmandu Post was Nepal’s first privately owned English broadsheet daily and is currently the country's leading English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Opinion, Politics

Rohingyas in Voter List: EC staffers, fraud ring behind it

Electoral fraud sees Rohingya on voting list. A nexus of brokers and some dishonest staffers of the Election Commission’s Chattogram office provides forged national identity cards to Rohingyas, an EC investigation team has found. Three members of the syndicate were arrested on Monday. An EC laptop, used in the forgery, was recovered from their possession, EC Deputy Director (NID) Iqbal Hossain, head of the three-member team, told The Daily Star yesterday. The arrestees are Jainal Abedin, 35, office assistant of Double Mooring Election Office under the Chattogram EC office, Bijoy Das, 23, a driver, and his sister Sima Das alias Sumaiya Jahan, 26, said Mohammad Mohsin, officer-in-charge of Kotwali Police Station. Yesterday, Double Mooring Thana Election Officer Pallabi Chakma filed a case against five people, including the three, with the police station under the Digital Security Act, the OC said


By Daily Star
September 18, 2019

Opinion, Politics

President blames China for ‘suppressing Taiwan int’l space’

The Solomon Islands is the latest country to not recognise Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) strongly condemned Solomon Islands’ decision to establish diplomatic relations with China in a major statement released on Monday. The president blamed China for using “financial and political pressure to suppress Taiwan’s international space” and called Beijing’s action “a threat,” but also a “brazen challenge and detriment to the international order.” Taiwan’s attitude towards its diplomatic allies has been one of sincere friendship, she said, stressing that Taiwan spares “no effort” and treats allies with “sincerity.” In the face of China’s alleged interference, however, she added that “we will not stand to be threatened, nor will we be subjected to ceaseless demands.” The president also stressed that Taiwan will not engage in “dollar diplomacy” with China


By ANN Members
September 17, 2019

Opinion, Politics

Hong Kong police deploy water cannon, tear gas to disperse radical protesters

More protests erupted this week, the third month of continuous weekend protest. Hong Kong police fired water cannons and volleys of tear gas to break up protesters throwing petrol bombs and bricks near the Legislative Council (LegCo) building and central government offices on Sunday (Sept 15), the latest in weeks of sometimes-violent unrest. One water-cannon truck parked behind water-filled barriers surrounding the government headquarters complex caught fire after being hit by a petrol bomb, but the flames were quickly put out by police. After repeated warnings failed to disperse the protesters, police fired water cannons laced with blue dye as well as volleys of tear gas to break up the demonstrators. In other countries, dye is added to the water to help identify protesters later. Meanwhile, the LegCo Secretariat issued a red alert informing all persons to evacuate the LegCo Complex immediately.


By The Straits Times
September 16, 2019

Opinion, Politics

Iran rejects US claim it was behind Saudi oil strikes, says ready for war

All sides in the Middle East have stepped up their rhetoric in recent days. Iran dismissed accusations by the United States that it was behind attacks on Saudi oil plants that risk disrupting global energy supplies and warned on Sunday that US bases and aircraft carriers in the region were in range of its missiles. Yemen’s Houthi group claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks that knocked out more than half of Saudi oil output or more than 5 per cent of global supply, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the assault was the work of Iran, a Houthi ally. The drone strikes on plants in the heartland of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, including the world’s biggest petroleum processing facility, were expected to send oil prices up $5-10 per barrel on Monday as tensions rise in the Middle East. Iran’s President Hass


By Dawn
September 16, 2019

Opinion, Politics

The foreigner who stoked political chaos in Malaysia

For Asia News Network Editor’s Circle by Chong Lip Teck of Sin Chew Daily. Controversial Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik is on the wanted list in India due to his extreme religious remarks and alleged involvement in money laundering. Many Muslim countries have denied him entry. But in Malaysia, he is well received by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government. Within the coalition, however, there is a split because of him. The ground sentiment is also divided into two, on  racial and religious lines. One side has defended him while the other side asked for his repatriation. As a Muslim preacher, Zakir Naik is popular in the Muslim community. He has his charm. While promoting Islam, he would  downgrade other religions, especially the Hindus and Christians. But, as a guest in Malaysia, he has crossed the red line. If he is merely promoting Islam, no one is against him. But he insults other religions in his sp


By ANN Members
September 16, 2019

Opinion, Politics

PM Abe surprises by appointing Koizumi to 1st Cabinet post

Abe nominates rising political star to cabinet post. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who doubles as Liberal Democratic Party president, is attempting to maintain “stability” by not changing the core members of his administration in the reshuffle of his Cabinet and party executives, while also demonstrating the ability to “challenge” by appointing young and mid-career lawmakers such as Shinjiro Koizumi of the House of Representatives. Abe is apparently looking ahead to the end of his term as party leader in September 2021 by putting the finishing touches on his long period in power. 3rd-youngest postwar minister A mid-career LDP lawmaker was excited Tuesday evening after watching a television report predicting Koizumi’s appointment to the Cabinet for the first time. “It’s the biggest surprise [in the reshuffle],” the lawmaker yelled.


By The Japan News
September 12, 2019