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.