By 2008, there were articles and interviews introducing Dahal and stories of his revolution. In a 2008 interview article featured in China Daily, Dahal confessed that he was envious about how China dealt with Pu Yi (China’s last emperor).
He added: ‘If Gyanendra like Pu Yi becomes a commoner, it will be a blessing for the Nepali people.’
The interviewer was impressed by Dahal’s simple lifestyle in Kathmandu, and the devotion of the people for him. He relates how when he arrived for the interview at 6AM there were already people waiting to see him. The interviewer says there was a ‘common phrase in Nepal that anyone can have a handshake with Prachanda’.
China seems to tolerate Dahal despite his perceived incompetence because of the attachment of Mao’s name to his party, which carries China’s face. K P Oli, on the other hand, has been criticised in the Chinese media for allowing the split in the NCP and the UML.
To be sure, Dahal has not tested the Chinese government’s patience like Oli has, but even the criticism Dahal receives within Nepal does not cross over to China, while Oli’s does. The Chinese government seems to be careful about any negativity towards CPN (Maoist) and manages news on him within China to save its own face.
Dahal’s present predicament with the MCC in Nepal could either further improve or completely ruin his stature in China. State media here could have denounced Deuba and Dahal for their recently exposed secret letter to the MCC, but it was largely ignored.
Dahal belongs to the Maoist Centre and signed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – this seems to have made him immune to criticism in China. However, the final decision on MCC is not only going to test Nepal’s ties with China, but also Dahal’s faithfulness to the Mao brand.