Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Nepal: Caught Between the Ambitions of China and India - TIME

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    • Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, left, and Nepal's Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal inspect the Chinese People's Liberation Army honor guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

      Liu Jin / AFP / Getty
    • India has just launched a plan to spend $361 million over the next several years on roads and rail links in the terai, announcing the grants just before Nepali President Ram Baran Yadav made his Feb. 15 official visit to New Delhi. China, meanwhile, recently increased its annual aid to Nepal by 50% to about $22 million.
    • China's main interest in Nepal has always been led by its concerns over Tibet, which has been ruled by China since 1950. Beijing's involvement with Nepal grew much more intense after the March 2008 ethnic Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, which deeply embarrassed the Beijing government on the eve of its expensive Olympic Games. There are an estimated 20,000 Tibetans living in Nepal but, with China pushing Nepal to tighten its border with Tibet, the number of new refugees reaching Nepal has dropped to about 500 from an annual figure of around 2,500. But it too has increased its focus on economic ties — trade between China and Nepal has quadrupled since 2003. This week, China said it would restart the tourist bus route between the Tibetan capital Lhasa and Nepal's capital Kathmandu. It had suspended the service in 2006.

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