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High level Chinese delegation in Kathmandu to firefight Nepal's political crisis

Guo Yezhou, Vice Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) arrived in Nepalese capital Kathmandu on Sunday to make a last ditch effort to reunite the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), which is on the verge of a irreconcilable split driven by the coalition's two major factions.

Nepal was thrown into turmoil last Sunday when Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli recommended the dissolution of the lower house to President Bidya Devi Bhandari. The ruling NCP has seen bitter feuding with rival factions, one led by Oli and the other by Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' demolishing each other over the past year, leading to a split in the party.

<a href="https://kathmandupost.com/national/2020/12/27/chinese-vice-minister-arrives-on-a-four-day-visit-to-assess-the-political-situation-in-nepal" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Kathmandu Post reported earlier today</a> that the four-member delegation, led by Guo, was accorded a rather cool reception. Only the Chinese ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi was at the airport to receive the visiting delegation that arrived by a regular Air China flight. No one from the Nepali side was present to welcome the Chinese guest at the Tribhuvan International Airport.

China is concerned with the disorder in the NCP as it has invested considerably in Nepal over the past few years, in a bid to structurally integrate Kathmandu within its Belt and Road Initiative
(BRI). Nepal has emerged as one of the battlegrounds of the new great game between India and China to remain the dominant force in South Asia.

<a href="https://indianarrative.com/world/china-sending-trouble-shooter-to-salvage-lost-ground-in-nepal-49195.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Prior to Guo's visit</a>, Ambassador Hou has completed considerable spadework for the visit. Hou met faction leaders of the endangered NCP, led by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his heavyweight rival, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who is also known by his nom de guerre, Prachanda. One-time Oli loyalist Madhav Kumar Nepal is on Prachanda’s side in Nepal’s high intensity power struggle. Hou, however, was unable to meet Prime Minister Oli.

Guo is expected to hold high-level talks during his stay in Kathmandu and take stock of the political situation in Nepal. Guo has been sent to Kathmandu to mediate as he is reportedly close to all senior NCP leaders. He had played a major role before the Nepal elections in 2017 by bringing the two communist parties together as the NCP.

There is no agenda which has been communicated to the media on the high-level Chinese visit either by Beijing or by Kathmandu. However, it is being said that Guo will try and hold meetings within the NCP. It is however, unclear whether Oli will receive him.

Analysts say that China has high stakes in the unity of the NCP, which it sees as the most suitable vehicle for carrying forward its broader geopolitical agenda in the high Himalayas.

Even as China has thrown itself headlong into the country's internal politics, India is keeping itself away. This year, India – which has been traditionally close to Nepal, was kept at an arm's length by Oli–considered close to China.

However, over the past couple of months, India managed to salvage its relationship with Nepal by sending senior officials – chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Samant Kumar Goel, Indian Army chief MM Naravane and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla. The two countries not only put an end to their bickering but also resumed talks over trade, transit and opening up the Delhi-Kathmandu flights. India is now poised to emerge as the key supplier of Covid-19 vaccines to Nepal, cementing their relations further..