March 26, 2011
General Chen Bingde, chief of the general staff of China’s People’s Liberation Army, concluded a high level visit to Kathmandu this week by offering a new aid package to the Nepal Army. Two agreements were signed by General Bingde and General Chatraman Singh, Nepal’s Chief of Army Staff.
To date, this is the largest military package that Beijing has offered Nepal. China had recently provided US $ 2.6 million in non-lethal military aid and communication logistics worth US $ 3 million.
This time, the money is tagged for infrastructure development, (including heavy construction vehicles), medical equipment to NA's military hospital in Kathmandu, and logistics training for rescue operations.
General Bingde, who led a 15-member delegation, also held talks with Nepal’s Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal, Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav, and Defence Minister Bishnu Paudel.
“The purpose of my visit is to strengthen friendship and cooperation between Nepal and China," General Bingde told reporters. "This cooperation is not only conducive for our people but also for the world peace and the Asia Pacific region."
Historically, India has been the biggest provider of military assistance to Nepal, but it stopped supplying lethal military aid after former king Gyanendra Shah's took over the government in 2005. Since then, China has made significant inroads in military influence in Nepal.
The shift has policy makers in Delhi sitting up and taking notice.
But it’s not just the Sino-Nepali alliance that has the Indian government wringing its hands. In the past few years, China has also launched major infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, while Beijing’s longtime ties with Pakistan remain firm.
The upshot is that Delhi sees its sphere of influence in South Asia shrinking, while Beijing’s shadow unfurls over the region.
In the meantime, in Nepal, no one doubts that this new deal will only double Beijing’s determination to muffle – if not eliminate – Tibetan refugee unrest in the Himalayan nation.