In the year of the Dragon, the Chinese Dragon enters Nepal through Belt and Road Initiative(BIS). This road infrastructure belt will tighten the belt along Nepal from west to east. The Chinese dragon is therefore ready to strangle Nepal's economy.
The East India Company (EIC) was founded in 1600 as a trading company. With a massive private army and the support of the British government, the EIC plundered the Indian subcontinent. The EIC was the means by which Britain carried out his imperialist policies in Asia and made millions from his global policies. trade in spices, tea, textiles and opium. India, on the other hand, has become increasingly poor. India’s share in global GDP was 24.4% in 1700 before British rule, but fell to 4.2% in 1950. According to Tharoor: “The reason was simple. India was ruled for the benefit of Britain. Britain's rise for 200 years was financed by its plunder of India.
The Rastriya Ekta Abhiyan organized an awareness rally in Pokhara, highlighting apprehensions regarding the BRI and its potential consequences for Nepal. The focal point of the protest was Pokhara International Airport. Although the airport is not officially part of the BRI, Chinese banks provided most of the funds and a Chinese company built the infrastructure. Beijing insisted the project was part of the BRI despite Kathmandu's reservations. The group alleged that there could be ulterior motives, including the potential deployment of the Chinese army in Pokhara, using economic losses at the airport as a pretext.
The BRI's flagship project in Nepal is the Trans-Himalayan Multidimensional Connectivity Network (THMCN), which includes a cross-border railway connecting China's Tibet Autonomous Region to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Further extension to Pokhara and Lumbini was also discussed in 2018.
The China-Nepal Friendship Industrial Park (also known as Damak Clean Industrial Park) in Jhapa. The first phase plans to develop, over a period of three years, an area of 424.81 hectares, including 133.33 hectares of central area, with an estimated investment of 586 million US dollars. A total of 192 small, medium and large factories should be installed inside the industrial park in the first phase.
Until now, technical difficulties due to the slope of the terrain between the Tibetan plateau and the lower valleys of Nepal, exorbitant costs and geopolitical factors have prevented this rail connection from materializing. Critics also mentioned that successive Nepali governments have failed to maintain the condition of existing roads to Kodari and Rasuwagadi in line with international standards.
Railway infrastructure of Nepal. Although delays have hampered the development of the necessary railway infrastructure in Nepal, steady progress has been made on the side of China and Tibet. In June 2021, Chinainauguratedthe 435 km section of the Lhasa-Nyingchi electrified high-speed rail (HSR), which passes through 47 tunnels and 121 bridges along the Brahmaputra River (Tsang Po). The high-speed train is part of the new Sichuan-Tibet railway. According tomedia reportsif this rail section were connected to Kerung via Lhasa and Shigatse, it would put Lhasa six hours away and Chengdu less than 19 hours from the Nepal border.
The China-Nepal Friendship Industrial Park. In the second phase, it will develop 363.74 hectares and in the third phase 372.04 hectares. Living facilities will be simultaneously improved, to ensure industrial and urban symbiosis. The fourth and final phase will see 436.21 hectares of land planned for commercial real estate development, science, education, research and development, improvement of industrial structure and creation of support facilities. The industrial park is projected to achieve a large-scale production value of US$5 billion by 2030, employ 60,000 people and house 100,000 permanent residents.
The BRI in Nepal remains almost a failure. Nepal and China signed a memorandum of understanding on the BRI in 2017. For almost seven years, no project under the initiative has been executed, with successive governments of Nepal reluctant to borrow from Beijing, unlike Sri Lanka, Pakistan and some African countries. nations. Kathmandu preferred to accept grants rather than Chinese loans granted at high interest rates. Although there have been fears about China's debt trap, economic diplomacy.
Chinas BIS Debt traps economic diplomacy
According to the AidData report (March 27, 2023), it appears that, by the end of 2021, China had undertaken 128 bailout loan operations in 22 debtor countries, worth $240 billion. These transactions include many so-called refinancings, in which the same short-term loans are extended again and again to refinance maturing debts. The BRI has left countries drowning in huge debts, the IMF's numerous lending programs for developing countries create these same debt traps.
There are growing signs of disenchantment among so-called BRI-aided countries. A large number of BRI infrastructure projects have encountered major implementation problems such as corruption scandals, quality problems, labor law violations, environmental risks, and public protests. Project suspensions and cancellations are increasing. BRI debt trap diplomacy offers projects or loans on terms that end up being too difficult for countries to repay, ultimately forcing them to accept political or economic concessions.
Thanks to the BRI, China has established itself as an economic giant capable of lending massive amounts of capital to countries with high interest rates. China appears to structure its lending programs and interest rates to trap the borrowing country in an endless debt spiral. Then, when a country is unable to repay its loans, China takes over its economy, creating further dependency.
I hope and wish that our neighboring friend Nepal has learned lessons from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and some African countries on how they found themselves in the Chinese debt trap of BRI, economic diplomacy and took decisions in the long term interest of the country and failed to do so. falling into the Chinese debt traps of the BRI.
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