China first, America later

Aawaaj News claims to be a socio-political news platform – our selection of news (most of the time) is decided upon, if the ‘political affects your social’. While doing so, we have tried to cover the ‘trade war’ as much as possible.  While trying our best to remain objective, we tried to suggest that the trade war is not simply about ‘trade deficits’, but have larger implications.

The implications?

U.S. is aware of China’s advancement as a global superpower, so much so if it continues unchallenged, it could surpass U.S. soon. US President Donald Trump has made it his agenda to deter their advancements. After this many years of fighting the communists, and breaking the U.S.S.R, America cannot lose its spot to ‘a communist nation’ – how shameful.

How does the trade war affect us Nepalis?

Well, we have to choose a side. With our ruling party’s name being ‘Nepal Communist Party’, the answer to that is obvious. Our leaders’ frequent visits to China, our government being strict about the voice of the Tibetan community in Nepal, the advancement of the BRI project and the increasing Chinese investment adds further insight. India, who used to hold preeminent political power since Nepal was a monarch has lost its holding – and for some reason they seem to have accepted their fate.

Now comes the interesting part. The United States is watching this, and it cannot grant another win to China as easily. They also know the government is a lost cause, they are not going to listen to the US. But the public – they can be swayed. They know, that is where they have to capitalize. In the era of social media, that is not a difficult task.

The ambassador tried hard – he would share a video of him eating biryani in a local eatery in Nepalgunj, a photo with local farmers, and so on. He even started a social media campaign #CloseWhereItCounts to celebrate seven decades of friendship between the two nations. From digging into ancient ties with the ex-monarchs to current developments, he shared it all. Then, he asked the public to join in and several people spoke on that subject too. While the government ‘probably’ had noticed the engagement, they hadn’t said a word.

However, the final straw came yesterday – after Ambassador Randy Berry said he would start a new program ‘Guffgaff (chit-chat) with the ambassador. MoFA had to object. They said, ‘diplomats had to engage in dialogue with the government of Nepal, and not directly with the public’. MoFA was afraid of ‘controversial issues’ that could possibly arise from the dialogue. They went on to defend their objection by saying ‘what if other nations also wish to engage in a similar activity?’

While MoFA’s concerns are to be taken seriously, the question that arises is about the suggested ‘controversies’. Nepal, on its path towards building a solid friendship with China cannot have any complications.

For example, one of the first tweets by Ambassador Randy while introducing #CloseWhereItCounts was “the U.S. is the largest bilateral donor to #Nepal. And all our projects are grants NOT loans”. The dig was directly aimed at China’s ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ and one cannot help but wonder if that is the ‘controversy’ Nepal wishes to avoid.

They cannot have the U.S. ambassador talking to the public, advancing his interests, while the government holds on to its ‘China First’ policy – China is not going to like that.

Also, if China had wished to engage with the Nepali public, would the government still object? We cannot answer that question for sure, however, one what we can say for sure is – China first, America later. Like it or not, that is where our political orientation is heading.

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