Kathmandu, [Nepal] August 8 (ANI): Nepal, a landlocked country of some 29 million people, is located between two giant economies China and India. Due to its strategic location, Beijing has been consistently endeavouring to expand its influence in the Himalayan nation.
In May 2017, Nepal and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative (or BRI) under the leadership of the then Prime Minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
The bilateral agreement was believed to bring rapid infrastructural development to the country. However, no tangible project was pursued.
Five years have passed since the signing of the BRI, and not a single project has been finalised.
Observers say Beijing aims to exploit Nepal's territory to further its expansionist designs.
In early 2019, Nepal proposed nine different projects to be constructed under the Belt and Road Initiative.
These included a feasibility study of the Trans-Himalayan Railway connectivity, an extension of a 400 KV electricity transmission line, the setting up of a technical university in Nepal, and the construction of new roads, tunnels and hydroelectricity dams.
The rising concerns over financing and transparency have kept these projects in limbo. China however has been relentless in its indirect tactics of making inroads.
A number of Chinese nationals, which many believe could be the state agents of China have set up their businesses in the capital city of Kathmandu and they are reportedly engaged in unlawful activities.
There is a rapid surge in criminal networks, frauds, illegal trade and wildlife smuggling by the Chinese in Nepal.
This not only poses a law and order problem to Nepal but a security threat to neighbouring India as both countries share a 1,087 miles-long porous border.
A senior journalist in Kathmandu, Manoj Joshi said, "These sort of incidents which has incurred in certain interval of time with transformation in the mode and means of carrying out the criminal activities not only have become a headache for Nepal Police but also has increased potentiality that it would turn Nepal into fertile land for Chinese nationals to plot, plan and execute their plans."China's growing political and economic influence in Nepal has also agonised the United States.
In a bid to counter Beijing's designs in the Himalayan Nation, the United States and Nepal signed a new Development Objective Agreement in May, this year.
The United States, through the US Agency for International Development, will provide USD 659 million over the five-year period to support Nepal's goal of graduating to a middle-income country.
Although Nepal enjoys good relations with China, the United States and India and has maintained its implicit policy of leveraging the competitiveness of major economies, it now finds itself walking a tightrope where it has an expansionist China on one side and friendly India and the US on the other. (ANI)