The recent remarks by Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, Chen Song, have stirred controversy and raised concerns about diplomatic norms and China’s approach to Nepal-India relations. Speaking at a program in Kathmandu, Ambassador Chen appeared to cast aspersions on Nepal’s ties with India while positioning China as a more favorable partner.

Ambassador Chen’s remarks, made at an event attended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nepal, Devraj Ghimire, have drawn attention for their deviation from diplomatic conventions. Diplomatic courtesy traditionally involves maintaining a respectful and non-interfering stance regarding a host country’s relations with other nations. Ambassador Chen’s attempt to project India-Nepal ties negatively challenges this convention.

During his speech, Ambassador Chen addressed what he termed as “India’s influence in Nepal.” While acknowledging India’s vast market potential, he advised Nepal to exercise caution, stating that India’s policies towards its neighbors, including Nepal, might not be as friendly and beneficial as they seem. This rhetoric is seen by many as an attempt to drive a wedge between Nepal and India, two nations with longstanding political, cultural, and social ties.

It’s important to note that Nepal has traditionally maintained closer ties with India than with China. These ties encompass not only political but also cultural and social dimensions that date back to ancient times. Any attempt to undermine these relations can be viewed with skepticism by Nepal’s leadership and citizens alike.

One of the contentious aspects of Ambassador Chen’s speech was his assertion that Nepal’s trade with India might not be beneficial. He pointed out a trade deficit in electricity, a product Nepal is proud of exporting to India. Chen advised Nepal to focus on its agricultural sector instead. Such statements can be seen as an oversimplification of complex trade dynamics and might not fully consider the multifaceted nature of Nepal’s economic relations with India.

The backdrop of Ambassador Chen’s comments is the ongoing competition between China and India for influence in Nepal. In recent decades, Nepal, which was traditionally considered part of India’s sphere of influence, has been exploring ways to strengthen cooperation with China. This geopolitical rivalry between India and China in South Asia has put smaller nations like Nepal in a delicate position, as they navigate the complexities of balancing ties between these two giants.