Thursday, October 27, 2005

China makes a move in Nepal

Few relationships are as misunderstood outside the parties involved as the Indo-Chinese rivalry. This became clear after the 1998 Pokhran II tests when most of the global reaction consisted of incredulity that India would invoke China's hostility as an explanation for going nuclear. Readers interested in getting a better handle on this could do no better than read John Garver's excellent 2001 study Protracted Contest whose introductory chapter is, luckily, available on the web free of charge.

Garver's title captures nicely the dynamics of the relationship. In particular Garver chronicles the constant friction over China's presence in South Asia. Over the last decade India's democratic sensitivities allowed China to dramatically increase its presence in Myanmar during the initial segment of the Aung-San Suu Kyi saga when India was attempting to isolate the junta. A recent report on Chinese military aid to Nepal suggests that the same dilemma is now recurring in a much more important neighbor.


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