An interview that never happened (but should have) – A Political and Business weekly

Maila Baje: We’re in deep trouble and here you are, vice-minister How’s your parachute diplomacy going?

Guo Yezhou: It’s easy to make fun of it, isn’t it? But aren’t you undercutting the seriousness of it all?

MB: This is out of seriousness. Nepalis used to blame Indians for this kind of interventionism. At least we know the Indians better.

GY: As if Indians were intervening out of familiarity?

MB: Point taken. But why this assertiveness now? Has Nepal catapulted to the top of Chinese foreign policy priorities without us knowing?

GY: You are half-right there. Nepal has become a top priority for China, and I emphasize the word ‘for’ here. When you’re not able to discharge a normal state’s normal functions, it worries us – for our own sake.

MB: That sounds like a wholesale abandonment of your vaunted policy of non-interference.

GY: Your inability to maintain your international commitments affects us. Do you expect us not to interfere?

MB: Why this interest in the internal affairs of the ruling Nepal Communist Party?

GY: Nepali and Indian media have made much of how we facilitated the unity between the Maoists and Marxist Leninists. We have never confirmed our role. But we haven’t denied it either.

MB: Okay, did you play a role?

GY: Yes, and it wasn’t easy, as you might have guessed. We persuaded both sides of unification’s wisdom and its broader salutary effects on Nepal and the region. And we thought we had convinced them?

MB: You hadn’t?

GY: You tell me. All of our commitments to securing Nepal’s long-term viability and value as an independent, sovereign and territorially indivisible state were predicated on Nepal’s firm commitment to upholding China’s interests. In other words, it was a mutual undertaking.

MB: You’re saying Nepal hasn’t been sincere?

GY: I am. You signed all these important agreements with us to use them to seek a better deal from India and the United States. Those papers are gathering dust, but you’re busy making excuses.

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MB: What excuses?

GY: That rival external powers are pressuring you against building closer relations with China.

MB: But China isn’t the only foreign power we have to worry about. And while we’re nitpicking, Beijing hasn’t exactly been faithful to its commitments to Kathmandu. Bahadur Shah, Bhimsen Thapa, Birendra, Gyanendra and Dahal are just a few examples.

GY: You’re not expecting to keep getting away with this? We didn’t help you against the British in 1814-1816 under the 1792 Betravati Treaty provisions because you manufactured that crisis expressly to draw us in for purely Nepali factional politics.

MB: I can’t believe you just said that. We lost a third of our territory.

GY: Not because of us. Don’t expect us to take the fall for Gajaraj Mishra, Chandrasekhar Upadhyaya, and your internal machinations and mishandling.

MB: What about more modern times?

GY: You couldn’t explain to India why you purchased arms from us in 1988-89. Instead, you tried to drag us into the aftermath with least sensitivity to events in Eastern Europe and Tiananmen Square, etc. In 2005-2006, you assured us things would be in control. For all his ‘people’s war’ bluster, Dahal overplayed his hand far worse at a time when our rivals were trying to use the Beijing Olympics and its aftermath to undermine China. Let’s take something more recent, like President Xi’s visit. He flew in directly from that informal summit with Modi, and you reneged on the extradition treaty.

MB: But you do appreciate all the pressure we were under. And President Xi did put us in a tight spot with his original ‘wolf warrior’ crushed-skulls-and-bones bit.

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GY: At least we were sensitive enough to give that story a Beijing dateline and obfuscate the real target.

MB: It sure seems like somebody’s fuming.

GY: Wouldn’t you be? Yet your show goes on. You couldn’t even stick to your new map after fully and formally incorporating it in the Constitution. Your decision not to distribute the new schoolbooks containing the new map may not have been enough to appease India. It was more than enough to infuriate us. Just imagine how bad it would have been for us if we had openly backed you on the territorial dispute with India? And what did we get for not even defending that bilateral agreement with India on Lipulekh? Your Nepali Congress accuses us of territorial encroachment in Humla.

MB: So all this justifies your meddling now?

GY: It sure does. You shouldn’t have given us those false promises. Sure, there is not much you can do amid the external pressures. But you’re not even doing the bare minimum you should be, such as keeping your NCP intact.

MB: Thank you for your time. A lot to think about.

GY: Remember, not just think about – but do.

This content was originally published here.