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China sending a senior political leader to Nepal to access ground situation amidst political chaos in Nepal Communist Party

Lower House of Nepal’s parliament was dissolved by Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari on the recommendation of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli

Nepal is facing political chaos that has alarmed China’s Communist Party. Beijing is sending a senior political leader to Kathmandu to assess the ground situation in the country. As per the reports, a vice-minister of the Chinese Communist Party will soon visit Nepal.

According to the Kathmandu Post, two Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leaders have confirmed that Guo Yezhou, vice-minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China, will reach Kathmandu on Sunday for a four-day visit. He will meet senior leaders of both the groups of NCP. Bishnu Rijal, Deputy Head of Department of Foreign Affairs of the NCP (Dahal-Nepal faction), confirmed Guo’s visit to Nepal, but he did not provide any further details.

The Lower House of Nepal’s parliament was dissolved by Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari on the recommendation of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli. After the dissolution, 12 petitions were filed in the apex court of Nepal, marking it as unconstitutional. Former Prime Minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, was one of the petitioners who filed the plea in court on Tuesday. Oli has proposed elections on April 30 and May 10, 2021, which will be almost two years ahead of schedule.

After the dissolution of the parliament, seven Cabinet Ministers submitted their resignations, which were accepted by the President. There has been immense pressure on Oli from the rival faction of NCP, led by former prime minister Hagal and Madhav Nepal.

China’s senior Ambassador Hou Yanqi’s attempts to pacify the situation in May

In May 2020, China’s Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi had visited NCP’s top leaders and president Bidya Devi Bhandari to discuss the political riff with-in the ruling party. In July, Hou had to do the round when the rival factions of the party made it difficult for the ruling party to function properly. The matter was settled soon, but last Sunday, Oli decided to dissolve the parliament that took everyone by surprise, including Beijing.

China wants to keep its leadership intact

China has allegedly put a lot of effort in bringing CPN-UML and Maoist Centre together so that they can form a government under the Nepal Communist Party’s banner. It is in the interest of Nepal to keep the party’s unity intact. Dinesh Bhattarai, a former ambassador who served as foreign relations adviser to prime ministers Sher Bahadur Deuba and Sushil Koirala, said, “Now, with the sudden political changes in Kathmandu, they must be concerned.”

India-Nepal relationships and China’s worries

India-Nepal relationships got sour after Nepal announced a new map that claimed Indian territories as part of Nepal. It took almost a year for India to break the ice and show interest in renewing interest in Nepal. Three officials, chief of the Research & Analysis Wing, Samant Goel and Manoj Mukund Naravane, the chief of the Indian Army, and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, have so far visited Nepal to renew relationships with the country. Kathmandu Post mentioned that India approached Nepal after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Defence Chief Mark Esper visited Nepal, aiming at “strengthening strategic ties in the face of growing Chinese influence in the region.”

After Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit, China sent its Defence Minister Wei Fenghe to Nepal on November 29. An advance team from China was already discussing the situation with the Nepal Communist Party. India’s influence in the country has worried China, which is resulting in the dragon’s larger interest in the country.

Sundar Nath Bhattarai, chairman of China Study Center, was quoted by The Kathmandu Post saying, “The Chinese are concerned about the Nepal Communist Party, chances of party unity in the future. Any changes or political turmoil can easily be cause for concern for Being as it has its own security interests.”

Former ambassador Bhattarai said that though China does not interfere in Nepal’s political situation to a level of micro management as India does, the political situation in the country and India’s interest in resuming relationships with Nepal has worried China. “They were against this split. They thought there would be some give and take between the Nepal Communist Party leadership but that did not happen. So they must be unhappy,” he said.

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