China on April 18, 2018 proposed the construction of the India-Nepal-China Economic Corridor with multi-dimensional connectivity through the Himalayas.
The proposal came after Nepalese foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali held talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in China.
China’s intention behind this proposal
With this move, China seeks to expand its authority over the new Nepalese government headed by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, which is widely regarded as pro-Beijing.
Moreover, Oli, during his last tenure as Prime Minister, signed a transit treaty with Beijing in 2016 ending the decades-long dependence on India for commodity and energy supplies for Nepal.
China and Nepal have already signed an MoU on the China's multi-billion-dollar One Belt and One Road Initiative (BRI), which includes connectivity cooperation.
The MoU included a long-term vision such as connectivity network and linking the two countries through ports, railways, highways, aviation, power and communications.
Significance of Pradeep Kumar Gyawali's visit to China
Nepalese foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali's visit to China was aimed at counterbalancing the recent visit by PM KP Sharma Oli to India, which was his first visit abroad after taking over as Prime Minister.
During Gyawali's visit, China mooted the case for trilateral cooperation between India, China and Nepal, the three neighbours connected by rivers and mountains.
Nepal lies between India and China and has been close to India for its supplies. But, Beijing’s entry into Nepal by investing in various sectors concerns India unquestionably.
Moreover, Indo-China diplomatic relations have already experienced ups and downs lately amidst growing tensions along the India-China border.
In June 2017, armies of India and China were involved in a border standoff of over 70 days in the Doklam area near Sikkim. The dispute began after the Indian Army stalled the construction of Chinese road in Doklam.
Though military standoffs are endemic in nature, these developments have raised concerns due to the location of Doklam at the India-China-Bhutan trijunction.