The rise of India and China together can make the rise of Asia unstoppable. This view has been expressed by Nepal, a country that finds itself increasingly trying to balance ties between the two Asian giants in recent years even as they seek to increase their sphere of influence in the strategically located country.
Expressing this view on behalf of the landlocked nation nestled between India and China was the foreign minister of Nepal Pradeep Kumar Gyawali. The Nepalese leader was delivering the ministerial address at the annual Raisina Dialogue which concluded today.
Gyawali who took note of the “positive vibes that last year’s Wuhan summit created” while not naming India and China noted: “we are of the view that one country’s rise should not be seen as a threat to others. It could be an opportunity to rise together.”
Stating that “we have always emphasised good and harmonious relations between our two big neighbours”, the Nepalese foreign minister said there was need for “the right sort of arrangements for rising together” and that the “region’s leaders are capable of ensuring this”.
Describing Asia as a “fascinating combination of economic strength, demography and a unique value system”, the minister said that a developed and prosperous Asia will mean the transformation of the world.
The minister also said that Nepal had always campaigned for greater regional integration and that his country supports the strengthening of regional groupings like SAARC and BIMSTEC.
It’s noteworthy that SAARC has been at a standstill ever since India decided to boycott the summit which was to be held in Islamabad in November 2016. Nepal is the current chair of SAARC as the last summit was held in Kathmandu.
India has been working to revive the once moribund BIMSTEC sub-regional grouping which had its last summit in Kathmandu in August 2018. The summit-level meeting was held only for the fourth time since this grouping’s inception in 1997.
The Nepalese foreign minister also told the large gathering present to listen to his address that Nepal pursues an independent foreign policy. Towards this end, he asserted that Nepal’s “conduct of external relations is based on our values and an independent outlook which is rooted in the fact that we were among the few countries that have always remained independent, free from any colonial rule.”
Stating that “amity with all, enmity with none is our foreign policy motto,” Gyawali also said that “Nepal is a peace-loving country and shuns any kind of military alliance”.
Describing bilateral ties with India as “comprehensive and multi-faceted”, the minister noted the robust economic partnership between the two countries. He added: “India is our biggest trading partner, source of FDI and our main funding country. We are connected by geography as well as history, culture and religion. We have common understanding on the need to reinvigorate bilateral mechanisms to promote the cooperative agenda across diverse spheres.”
The minister also drew attention to the importance of cross-border connectivity in order to “unleash the development potential and promote growth (of Nepal).” He said the “importance of connectivity cannot be over-emphasised for a landlocked country like Nepal. We’re advancing connectivity with India via the railways and waterways.” He also described as “positive” the step taken by India to make cross-border trade of electricity possible.