China’s great game in Nepal

The Maoists on Wednesday showed black flags and even hurl a shoe at the vehicle of the Indian Envoy to Nepal, Rakesh Sood. As they step up their anti-India campaign, the Nepal Maoists tried to block the road as Sood was on his way to inaugurate an India-assisted project at Salleri in Solukhumbu district.

The anti-India rhetoric of Maoists has increased in recent times and sources in the Indian Government attribute it to the rising Chinese influence in Nepal. A recent media report about alleged telephone conversation between a senior Maoist leader (Krishna Mahara) and a Chinese man about use of $6.75 million to bribe members of parliament to elect a Maoist PM clearly points to China’s increasing interference in Nepal.

In this context, Canary Trap has decided to reproduce here a letter written to the Ministry of External Affairs on the issue of rising Chinese influence in Nepal.

(Note: The letter, marked confidential, was written on September 25, 2009 and may contain certain things which may be dated. The identity of the person who wrote the letter has not been revealed at his request.)


Shri S M Krishna
Minister for External Affairs
South Block
New Delhi 110011

Smt Preneet Kaur
Minister of State for External Affairs
South Block
New Delhi 110011

Dr Shashi Tharoor
Minister of State for External Affairs
South Block
New Delhi 110011

Smt Nirupama Rao
Foreign Secretary
Ministry of External Affairs
South Block
New Delhi 110011

25 September 2009

Dear All,

Namaskar. I would like to meet you and discuss some serious issues confronting our nation, including strategic security interests, foreign and economic policy.

A highly sensitive and most disturbing development has been reported. It has been suggested the during the attempted resolution of the conflict between differing perceptions of the Ministries of Home, Defence, External Affairs and the PMO, it was proposed that pursuing and furthering the Peace Proposal with Pakistan has become imperative because we are not in a position to engage in a war with Pakistan.

Reportedly, this lack of preparation referred to both, logistic deficiencies as well as the undermining political and strategic influence of Pakistan’s deep covert, subversive and criminal penetration of our economy and society.

If reports reaching us are correct, and it is very difficult to discount them, then territorial concessions in Jammu and Kashmir upto the Chenab are being contemplated, because of the necessity to further the engagement with Pakistan, without letting the situation escalate into a war!

Reports of the kind detailed above have forced me to seek an engagement with your ministry and the Government of India and offer some added contributions, which I hope could prevent conceding such a walkover to anti-India forces. At a time like this, all patriotic Indian forces need to work together.

In the light of the above mentioned inputs, it is necessary to add that, situational assessment is the basis of policy. And situational assessment is the product of the awareness, exposure, access, penetration of the issue, the understanding of the subject and the acumen of the assessors. It appears that the present government of India team could use some help.

There is a serious need to fully evaluate and assess the Chinese role behind all moves perceived to be breeding anti-India hostility in our neighbourhood. The Sino-Pak axis and the more comprehensive Sino-Wahabi axis are elemental sponsors of the manifest anti-India resentment in our neighbourhood. Despite this, no serious effort has been made to initiate engagements/interventions which are capable of modulating/neutralising Chinese policy/governmental behaviour in our interest. It appears that there is just a total absence of self-belief in our policy/diplomatic teams, that we can tame the Chinese.

There is a pressing need for foreign policy mandarins in South Block to re-evaluate history with liberal doses of analytical Chinese self appraisal from honest philosophers like Hu Shih (one time ROC Ambassador to the US from 1938 to 1942), who admitted, “India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.” This must be the basis of government of India’s renewed foreign policy for our immediate neighbourhood. I would like to develop this with you and your colleagues at the MEA.

Often non-government people-to-people and cross-border people-to-government initiatives achieve significant progress, while official government-to-government communications tend to start rambling and get bogged down by issues of propriety, precedence or sheer personal limitations of the individual interlocutors.

Over the last one year my engagements in neighbouring Nepal on various occasions, including the dismantling of the Maoist-led government and the installation of the Madhav Kumar Nepal led government, despite the perceived initial reservations of the Indian embassy in Kathmandu, is an example of what can be achieved with a little sensitivity, and a correct appreciation of our security requirements at any given point of time.

I had to intervene once again in July 2009 to nullify the Maoist threat to mobilise on the streets. Though it was a private individual effort without the support of, or acknowledgment from the government of India, it was my way of serving my country by keeping hostile elements at bay.

(If the Ministry, in its evaluation of the impact of the previous Foreign Secretary Menon’s interaction with Nepalese Leader of the Opposition Pushpa Kamal Dahal, was surprised by success beyond expectation and even beyond parameters laid out, it is just possible that this surprise could be explained by the Ministry’s refusal to factor in my meetings with the same gentleman on 21 & 22 July, 2009: this would have explained the Maoist retreat in July-August 2009. Any disconnect perceived, vis-a-vis expectation as per briefings, during the current Foreign Secretary’s visit earlier this month, can also be similarly explained. See Annexure: TOI Report datelined14/09/2009)

Since I have already addressed the Nepal situation as a case in point, I might as dwell upon it a little more in this letter, in the light of current developments which are threatening all the painstaking pro-India lattice that we have erected over the last one year. I am reproducing below, inputs sent by me to the Government of India a few days ago which, sadly, have failed to elicit any response as yet:

Nepal is again at a crossroad. The option is between (1) Madhav Nepal led governance and keeping the Maoists at bay till the end of the tenure of the present CA, and (2) involving the Maoists and attempting to write a constitution.

While the first option may not contribute to lasting peace in that country, it is likely to yield us some more time to defang the Nepali Maoists. The problem is, that even when we have the time (as we had over the last few months) we do nothing but procrastinate.

Engaging with the second option will keep us relevant over a longer period, otherwise we risk being swept away. But in this case also, we are on a continually weakening/worsening wicket.

The actual solution is covert operational engagement with a view to keeping our security interests intact. But are there any takers?

Apparently, Chinese infiltration of Nepali speaking (Chinese agents passable for Nepali origin) populace has crossed 25 lakh people.

I would like to recount two stories I heard in Nepal.

1. A former Minister told me how he received an invitation to attend the Chinese National Day celebrations. He conveyed his greetings but expressed his inability to attend given that he no longer goes out and is no longer active politically. Thereafter the Chinese Ambassador called to renew the invitation personally. Thus persuaded, he went to attend. There were over 10,000 guests at the celebrations, much more than at any comparable function in the Indian embassy. Since the Minister did not identify most faces present, he made his way in, a bit and then decided to come back because there was hardly room to walk. As he was coming out, a Nepali called out to him (in Nepalese) by name with the respectful suffix Dai and led him in. Then he was greeted by the Ambassador and a few other Chinese diplomats. Two days later, the former Minister received a personal invitation from the Chinese Ambassador to vist him at the embassy. After meeting the Ambassador, as the former Nepalese Minister made his way out, he again spotted the Nepalese gentleman who had first identified him at the National Day celebrations. When the former minister asked this Nepalese “how come, you are here?” he learnt that the gentleman was working in the Chinese Embassy. Since the Minister presumed that the gentleman must be from his area to be so well disposed to him, he asked him which district and anchal did he come from? Thereupon the clarification came that the culturally well adapted and linguistically fluent (in Nepalese) gentleman was a Chinese! The former Nepalese Minister admitted his inability to spot the difference until the truth was specified to him. Since then, the former Minister has been wondering about those 10,000+ guests attending the Chinese National Day celebrations whom he could not identify as known faces despite the small town atmosphere of Kathmandu: how many of them were Nepalese speaking Chinese?

2. In the marketplace three toughs (including one Karate Black Belt) belonging to the leading Kathmandu trouble gang tried to get fresh with three ordinary looking girls selling Chinese goods on portable hand-carry Khoncha type tray shops. Bystanders tell us that as soon as the tough put his hands on one of the girls, the next thing people there were aware of was that all the three toughs were on the floor, the Karate Black belt had a broken arm and leg, another had a broken jaw and the third had myraid smaller injuries; and the girls disappeared during the commotion which followed. Everybody who saw the operation is convinced that the girls could not be just ordinary salesgirls.

Another report informs us that the PLA is recruiting 10 million teenaged girls to train as escorts/call girls who are to be placed across national capitals for political subversion!”

God help us!

Coming back to the issue which I had raised in the communication quoted above, “The option is between (1) Madhav Nepal led governance keeping the Maoists at bay till the end of the tenure of the present CA, and (2) involving the Maoists and attempting to write a constitution.” This time to choose has once again come to a head; I would really appreciate a clear communication from the Ministry on the choice that we are making.

Recent developments including meetings between the Party leaderships of the Big Three are sending signals which are impossible to ignore. The Maoist declaration of bringing a No-Confidence Vote on 7 September cannot be ignored. One way or the other, it must be addressed. Finally, G P Koirala’s “Message on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami-2066” portends change which we must evaluate and react to.

The Nepal example/case study apart, we also need to take urgent decisions on the core issue of China policy if we are to address the roots of the problems rather than be forever engaged in inefficient fruitless reactive and symptomatic firefighting.

I earnestly request you and your colleagues in the Ministry of External Affairs, government of India to evaluate brief non-controversial, non-surgical, seamless peace initiatives, which could solve the problems facing the country and shift the balance of the equation squarely in our favour.

Looking forward to hearing from you at an early date, I am,

Yours sincerely,


2 thoughts on “China’s great game in Nepal

  1. Greetings!
    I am sure the MEA accepts the situation on the ground is as described by the writer. In this light, the very slow speed of response is unpardonable from people of the calibre of Shri SM Khrishna and Smt Nirupama Rao.

    The risk represented by China was categorically expressed a decade ago by the erstwhile FM Shri George Fernandes. I am left with a sinking feeling after having read the article.

  2. Hi All,

    Pakistan & China are hell bent on diluting the Hindu majorty in Nepal as by diluting the Hindu nature of Nepal they are ensuring that the affection which people of Nepal had will die. It is time our Pesudi Secularists look at these instead of always asking about Muslims rights & al that

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