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Asia's Game of Thrones
China Joins Nepal for War Games

India has yet more reason to worry about China’s military clout: for the first time ever, China has conducted joint exercises with neighboring Nepal. South China Morning Post:

China and Nepal began their first-ever joint military exercises on Sunday, a move likely to rattle India as Beijing boosts its influence in the region. […]

The 10-day drill in Kathmandu, dubbed “Sagarmatha Friendship 2017” referring to the Nepali name for Mount Everest, will focus on counter-terrorism, according to Nepal’s army. […]

Landlocked Nepal remains dependent on India for the majority of its imports, but the previous administration aggressively courted China as part of a nationalist drive to decrease the country’s reliance on New Delhi.

Nepal seems to be doing here what small countries always do: balancing among powerful competing neighbors to receive favorable treatment from both. But Beijing’s growing coziness with Kathmandu is likely to be seen in less innocent terms by India, which resents China’s increasing intrusions into its neighborhood.

China’s exercises with Nepal comes just on the heels of its dramatic military parade with Pakistani troops, an even more worrisome prospect for New Delhi. And Sino-Indian tensions have also lately been brewing in the disputed region of Arunachal Pradesh, an India-administered territory along its northeastern border with China, where both sides have made extensive infrastructure commitments to defend their turf. And this all comes on top of China’s ongoing push to establish a “string of pearls” of strategic ports in the Indian Ocean, which has long alarmed New Delhi.

India may officially declare that it is unperturbed by the exercises with Nepal and China’s growing footprint in its backyard. Despite the denials, though, the two sides’ growing geopolitical competition is being laid bare for all to see.

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  • D4x

    Nepal’s watershed feeds the Ganges. For China, that is their interest in Nepal and Pakistan. India has every right to be gravely concerned.

    • tellourstory

      I was just about to write something like this. India, which already hates Pakistan with a passion, is worried about the Pakistanis choking off their water supply. This, of course, is possible with the backing of their new allies the Chinese.

      This is also why the Chinese will never free Tibet. After all, beer is for drinking. Water causes wars.

      • D4x

        Glad to finally find one other American who knows China’s occupation of Tibet is about the watershed. The ‘progressive’ storyline has been about human rights and self-determination for 100 years, a script that needs to be deconstructed.

        NSA McMaster is in Delhi today. Hoping he knows China’s water war on India is a bigger threat than terrorism.

        Kurdistan, Kashmir, and, Uzbekistan vs Kyrgyzstan are also about watersheds.

        • tellourstory

          Yes, I agree. As someone who has lived in Asia for several years, a lot of the things the pundits say about the causes of problems here are either half-truths that miss the bigger picture or are just laughably wrong.

          Actually, I just took a trip to Taiwan’s east coast last month and I made the acquaintance of a Taiwanese woman named Anita. She worked in mainland China for ten years and she told me the only place she really recommended I go to, (as I’ve never been to mainland China), was Tibet. At the same time, she cautioned me that the Chinese are extremely touchy about Tibet, so much so that they won’t allow solo travelers to visit the area. You have to go with at least one friend or preferably a group to be allowed in at all and that’s just for tourists. The restrictions are even worse for journalists.

          Anita told me she wanted Tibet to be free, however, we both agreed that this wasn’t going to happen with the watershed being located inside Tibet. As it stands, I’m not sure a free Tibet is possible without bloodshed.

    • Yes, even Kashmir itself is basically a war over control of the Indus River’s water resources. And that is one reason China covets Tibet so much, because with it, it can cut off access to India’s Brahmaputra River in case of a potential war.

  • tellourstory

    Both China and India are vying for dominion over the Indo-Pacific region. Neither one of them are going to just hand over the reigns to the other, especially since both of them currently have nationalistic leadership.

    In addition, it simply cannot be understated how much India hates Pakistan and vis versa. India has always resented the 1947 partition of its land, which created a hostile state on its border. It wants that land back and I wouldn’t rule out using force to take it back.

    When Donald Trump became President of the United States, many Indians were happy with him being elected due to his campaign stance of eradicating radical islam. From what I recall from the comment sections where Indians were posting, two ideas presented themselves frequently. First, the Indians wanted to rid themselves of the scourge of radical islam. After that, they would take care of China.

    China has been trying to encircle and neutralize India for a while now. This is why India has been building alliances with Israel, Japan and the US. Just as Taiwan is a berserk button for China, Pakistan is a berserk button for India. China is definitely playing with fire here.

    • It’s very interesting, from a geopolitical standpoint. Even as the U.S. and Japan are trying to contain China in East Asia, so too is China trying to contain India in South Asia, building a “string of pearls” to encircle it in the Indian Ocean.

      • tellourstory

        Both of these developments are certainly newsworthy, but it strikes me that only the situation in the South China Sea gets much reporting. The struggle between India and China is rarely talked about, which is a shame given that this particular flashpoint has the potential to turn into a hot conflict between two of the largest nations in the world.

        • I think it’s because the South China Sea involves quite a a few more Asian nations, and it is also closer to South Korea and Japan, both of whom are U.S. treaty allies. India, on the other hand, is still technically non-aligned.

          • tellourstory

            True, India does love its neutrality. I’m sure it would love to keep it that way as well. Unfortunately, its neighbors may have a say in the matter.

          • Sigh…yes, it is quite sad, from a certain perspective. China and India were not always such bitter enemies, they were actually quite close in ancient times. It is just after the rise of Communist China and its invasion of Tibet that relations have been steadily going downhill.

          • tellourstory

            In a way, a similar case can be made between the US and China prior to the communist takeover. Granted, we weren’t best friends or anything, but our relationship was warm enough to where Madame Chiang Kai-Shek came to address the House in 1943. She spoke of the US-China friendship in her speech, but it was all downhill after communism took over the country.

          • There are no “ifs” in history. But sometimes I do wonder what might have been had things gone a little differently, had the Nationalists won the civil war and China became a democracy today. Sadly, we will never really know.

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