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Chinese Defence Minister to visit Nepal

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Chinese Defence Minister to visit Nepal

Chinese defense minister
Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/ AP

Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe will visit Nepal today, the first visit from a high-ranking Chinese official since Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip last October.

Nepal sits in the middle of a heated battle of influence between India and China. Led by the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), Nepal’s fragile multi-party democracy is on the brink of an internal political division that will jeopardise the NCP’s legitimacy. The NCP, established in 2018, is a coalition between the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) or CPN (UML), and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) or CPN (Maoist Center). If the party fractures, it will compromise China’s influence in the country and the Himalayan border region.

Wei’s visit is a signal of Beijing’s support for the NCP’s control over a country that has seen 22 different governments in a 24-year span. The NCP, the fourth largest communist party in Asia, has shown deference to Beijing in Himalayan border disputes that involve Nepal, India and China, and has allowed China to solidify areas of control through infrastructure development and cartographic claims. India is likely to strongly oppose increased Chinese support for Bhutan and may impose economic blockades to strangle the NCP out of power.

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