Chinese envoy steps in to save PM Oli govt, her office says don’t want NCP in trouble

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Jul 07, 2020 07:13 PM IST

Chinese ambassador Hou Yanqi had intervened this April to prevent Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s government from collapsing.

Chinese ambassador Hou Yanqi reached out to Nepal Communist Party leader Jhala Nath Khanal on Tuesday, continuing her outreach to NCP leaders who have joined hands to push out Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, people familiar with the development said. Hou has, over the last few days, met President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and senior Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leader Madhav Kumar Nepal as well, triggering criticism about the envoy’s role in Nepal’s internal politics. Nepal and Khanal, both former prime ministers, are aligned with the rival faction led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known by his nom de guerre Prachanda.

China’s ambassador Hou Yanqi has stepped up efforts to prevent Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli from falling and splitting the Nepal Communist Party(Twitter/@PRCAmbNepal)
China’s ambassador Hou Yanqi has stepped up efforts to prevent Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli from falling and splitting the Nepal Communist Party(Twitter/@PRCAmbNepal)

A meeting between Hou and Prachanda hasn’t matured yet. Prachanda, who is leading the campaign to oust PM Oli, is reluctant to meet her, people familiar with the development told Hindustan Times. It is not clear how long he would be able to resist.

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Hou Yanqi’s deep interest in Nepal’s politics and PM Oli’s continuation has been widely criticised in Kathmandu.

The Chinese Embassy has defended Hou’s meetings. Embassy spokesperson Zhang Si told the Kathmandu Post that China did not wish to see the Nepal Communist Party in trouble and wanted the leaders to resolve their differences and stay united.

“The embassy keeps good relationships with Nepali leaders and is ready to exchange views on issues of common interest at any convenient time,” said Zhang, according to a report in the Post.

The ambassador – and the embassy – keeps good relationships with the government, political parties , think tanks and all walks of life in Nepal, and always exchanges views on issues of common concern at convenient times, said Zhang.

Prachanda’s reluctance to make it convenient to meet the ambassador stems from his experience in April this year when Hou persuaded the three big feuding players in the NCP - Prachanda, Madhav Nepal and Oli - to stay on the same side. That intervention came as a reprieve for PM Oli, who promptly fuelled a controversy around a 80-km road built by India and issued a new political map for Nepal to consolidate his position in the party and government.

When the rebel leaders revived their campaign for his exit from one of the two posts that he holds - the NCPs co-chairman and the Prime Minister’s office - KP Sharma Oli promptly blamed New Delhi for the rebellion, even accusing Prachanda and his faction of batting for the Himalayan nation’s giant neighbour India that was upset over the map.

PM Oli’s accusation, designed to put Prachanda on the back foot, however, appeared to backfire when he amped up the campaign against the prime minister, now insisting that Oli quit the prime minister’s office.

Kathmandu watchers say Oli has dug in his heels and is unlikely to just give in. Instead, according to reports in Nepal’s media, he is planning to split the party and form a government in coalition with Sher Bahadur Deuba-led Nepali Congress.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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