China should be careful not to step into “minefields” between India and Nepal, an article in the Chinese media said on Friday, underlining that though it is necessary to provide aid to Kathmandu, it should not be at the cost of Beijing’s interests.
“Facing Nepal-India rows, China should be aware that the (India-Nepal) disputes cannot be resolved immediately. As a responsible country, Beijing ought to help address the issue in accordance with its own capacities,” the article in the state-run Global Times said, referring to the row over Lipu-Lekh Pass and Nepal’s new Constitution.
It said that China is supposed to play a role as a mediator between Nepal and India.
“On the one hand, it is necessary to provide temporary aid to Nepal. Beijing is now transporting oil to its southern neighbour to ease Kathmandu’s fuel shortage. On the other, it is of great importance for China to safeguard its own national interests. The aid should not be at the sacrifice of Beijing’s interests,” it said.
“In addition, China ought to be careful not to step into the minefields between Nepal and India. Maintaining a neutral stance is of significance for Beijing,” it said.
The article said that the “dispute over the Lipu-Lekh Pass have been simmering for years between Kathmandu and New Delhi.”
“The mention of the pass in the China-India joint statement has triggered Nepalese protests. Therefore, Beijing ought to be extremely careful not to unconsciously touch on sensitive issues between Kathmandu and New Delhi,” it said.
Nepal’s Parliament had raised serious objection over an agreement between India and China to boost border trade at Qiangla/Lipu-Lekh Pass, close to an area which Nepal claims to be part of its territory and had asked both countries to correct their pact immediately.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Beijing, China and India agreed to hold negotiations on augmenting the list of traded commodities, and expand border trade at the Lipu-Lekh Pass in the joint communique.
On Nepal’s announcement that Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli will travel to New Delhi next month on his first official foreign visit, the daily said, “Driven by vanity, the Indian government cares a lot about Oli’s choice to pay a first visit to New Delhi instead of China...India expects the visiting order to reflect its dominant status in South Asia.”
It said that the Nepalese government was not serious when suggesting earlier that Oli may visit China ahead of India.
“Kathmandu was just sounding out New Delhi’s attitude. As Nepalese prime ministers have traditionally chosen India as their first destination for state visits, Nepal was attempting to find some leeway in the negotiation with India over the ongoing blockade triggered by the adoption of the Nepalese constitution, which India feels does not protect the rights of the Madhesi, an India-backed lowlands minority,” it said.
The article also said that China can absorb Nepal into some Beijing-led regional organisations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation by granting observer status.
“The regional organisations will serve as a platform for Kathmandu to resolve bilateral and multilateral problems. By joining regional institutions, Nepal will find it easier to come up with a solution to strike a balance between China and India. Beijing, as a close friend of Kathmandu, has a responsibility to help its southern neighbour,” it said.