Beyond the Rhetoric of Trilateral Cooperation

Post Bahadur Basnet, who is from Nepal, is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA). Click here for detailed profile
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  • September 2013

    Over the past few years, ‘trilateral economic cooperation’ and ‘vibrant bridge’ have become buzzwords in Nepal’s foreign policy discourse, and have also caught the popular imagination at home in India. These proposals have generated both curiosity and anxiety in Delhi’s diplomatic and academic circles that are otherwise largely indifferent to Nepal. The Chinese diplomats in Delhi also raising the issue with the Indian officials has added to India’s anxiety all the more. With some notable exceptions (e.g., C. Raja Mohan, ‘Three to Tango’, The Indian Express, 7 May 2013), there is more or less consensus in India that such proposals from Nepal, if received formally, should be rejected outright, although some have prescribed the ‘wait and see’ approach as the best policy option for now. Moreover, the proposal has received prominence at a time when media reports about ‘Chinese incursion into Ladakh’ have flummoxed many policymakers in Delhi. While the Indian mandarins now seem to be handling the issue somewhat prudently, the supposed Chinese ‘forward policy’ across the Himalayas has already set alarm bells ringing, bringing back memories of the ‘uncalled-for Chinese aggression’ on India in 1962. It is in this context—‘Chinese manoeuvres’ across the Himalayas—that the rationale behind such plans in the changing dynamics of India–China–Nepal relations should be analysed.