Buoyed by the royal treatment he received in New Delhi early this month, a triumphant-looking Pushpa Kamal Dahal immediately jetted off to Beijing. The prime minister-in-waiting was keen to show he had the blessings of Nepal’s giant neighbours.
However, the ‘co-pilot’ of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) government did not get the same importance from China as he received in India.
Despite not holding any executive or constitutional post, Dahal in Delhi was accorded the kind of lavish welcome heads of government get on official state visits: a meeting with Prime Minister Modi, other top leaders, and a banquet. The only thing missing was a guard of honour.
“Last time when I was in Delhi as PM, I just had a 20-minute talk with Indian PM Narendra Modi,” Dahal boasted last week after his India trip, “this time, not only did he spend one-and-half hour with me, but he also walked me to my car!”
No such fanfare in Beijing. Neither Chinese President Xi Jinping nor Premier Li Keqiang had time for Dahal. At his port of entry in Guangzhou, Dahal was welcomed by a Chinese deputy minister wearing a polo T-shirt.
In diplomatese, the Chinese message was: “You are India’s pick, not ours.”