We are at it again. Nepali intelligentsia and the media is as preoccupied as Prime Minister K.P. Oli who is at time of print on the return leg of his China visit in eulogizing the boons of Nepal-China relationships and in predicting—in predictably very partisan terms— the extent of Chinese largesse to Nepal in course of the trip. Short memories are asked to forget the same preoccupation in course of Oli’s trip down south to India and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reciprocal visit to Nepal and the not too dissimilar preoccupation in Nepal. While our exuberance in coverage may be excused for the lack of balance in coverage of these visits in each of these countries vis a vis the seeming Nepali enthusiasm, the hype that has been created here in itself both proves our naivety in expectations and anticipations and gives our two neighboring giants yet more verification of the immaturity with which foreign policy is conducted in Nepal and by the Nepalis. For the Chinese particularly, this should prove irksome at this delicate stage in emerging Chinese viewpoints on what we ourselves call the Nepali China card. Diplomacy perhaps inhibits actors from seeing the joker in Nepali conduct; after all, diplomacy shuns positioning oneself to call a spade a spade.
Beijing which never tires of pontificating to Nepal of the benefits of Nepal’s India relations would have come enough to terms with Nepal’s broker politics to gauge the extent of the Nepali prime minister’s ability to grasp Nepali national interest. As realists, seasoned Beijing policy makers up north are by no means wishful thinkers and it is they more than us who handle more bordering neighbors of which Nepal is merely one of fourteen. For the moment, emerging Chinese global politics only strengthens the need for its actual assessments of the domestic politics of the neighbors and the trust it generates by keeping a studied distance from temptations at micro management. It is enough that Oli returns with what he has but this is enough to reflect China’s real assessment of Oli capabilities. It will neither perturb Modi down south that faces elections next year for whom China’s nationalism is a temptation nor will it belittle Chinese assessments of Nepali politics which still must identify Nepali national interest over party and individual interests. After all, it is this seasoned thinking for which the West grudgingly credits president Xi of having been the actual winner of the much ballyhooed Singapore bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea.
Having said this though, Chinese frustrations regarding Nepali politics will inevitably have been underlined this round too. It is the Nepali people who must inevitably decide and so the need for corrections in Nepali domestic politics can in no case be ignored by well wishers of Nepal. That the source s of Nepal’s middle-man politics will inhibit such a genuine popular aspiration from emerging will, one hopes, be realized by a China which, too, must pursue its national interests in the neighborhood. China should by now be verily aware of the seminal sources of Nepali communist movements of which, communism notwithstanding, Maoism as well was designed as deception in this Nepali neighborhood. Foreign policy cannot yield fruits divorced from domestic realities. It is Nepali politics that must change to yield foreign policy results. It is Nepali politics that must change to yield the capabilities in the pursuit of national interests for which foreign policy is merely a national tool.