Throughout the state visit to Nepal by Chinese President Xi Jinping last weekend, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism ideology was scarcely mentioned — even though both countries are governed by monolithic Communist parties.
The irony could have been lost on supporters of the Nepal Workers Peasants Party (above) that has traditionally governed Bhaktapur, who carried portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao during a rally to mark the party’s convention just before Dasain.
While Nepal’s politics still takes its inspiration from philosophers and leaders from the last century, the optics of the Xi visit was all geopolitical symbolism. Proposals about connectivity, the Belt and Road Initiative, trade and infrastructure — just about everything was mooted except the ideological underpinnings of the proposals.
President Xi timed his state visit to Nepal after an informal summit with Indian PM Narendra Modi in southern India. His message was that India is too important a trading partner for China to jeopardise those ties over Nepal. Chinese leaders since Mao have advised Nepal’s past kings, prime ministers and party leaders not to antagonise New Delhi.
The visit underscored China’s national interest to see a stable and independent Himalayan buffer state. For Prime Minister Oli, it was a photo-op to counter rising public disillusionment about his government’s non-performance. Oli is sensitive about this, and pointedly told critics at a NCP tea party Wednesday to “open their eyes” to accomplishments.
With all the attention on tunnels, trains and toll roads, Xi’s admonishment in his banquet speech that Nepalis do not complete projects, and advising his comrades to not be greedy, seemed to get lost in translation.
The most important message from President Xi’s visit for Nepalis, as Bhaskar Koirala reports from Beijing , is whether China’s promise of help will help us stand on our own two feet. Also in this edition, Bhutan Member of Parliament Passang Dorji says strategic shockwaves caused by Nepal wriggling out of India’s sphere of influence would be felt in the region.
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