Nepal-China Military Drill
The Nepal Army is now preparing to host the first ever Nepal-China military drill this month. The proposed joint exercise between Nepal Army and the People’s Liberation Army of China is expected to boost professionalism and defence diplomacy between the two neighbouring countries. The two armies are going to hold their final rounds of meeting to fix the date, venue and number of participating soldiers in the historic military exercise. The Nepal Army had since long been conducting multinational military exercises with more than 34 nations at the Birendra Peace Operation Training Centre located at Panchkhal of Kavre district. The planned drill is a part of routine exercise that the NA has been conducting in a gap of two or more years, but has drawn unnecessary media attention with a section of the media at home and in India interpreting it with suspicion. The NA had been conducting similar drills with India and the US on regular basis, but those drills had never drawn the media attention then. Considering the growing concerns expressed through media about the upcoming Nepal-China military drill, the NA officers have made it clear that the drill was going to take place as per the annual calendar and it should not be viewed from some other angle. NA spokesman and Brigadier General Tara Bahadur Karki the other day said that Nepal is free to propose and conduct any kind of military exercise with those nations with whom it has bilateral relations.
As an independent and sovereign nation, Nepal has every right to conduct a joint military drill in Nepal. There is no need for any country to raise question about such drill being conducted inside Nepal as it has never raises any question over any regular military exercises conducted in the neighbouring and friendly countries. Nepal has always been firm in its stance that its territory will never be allowed to be used by any element against India and China. Therefore, there will be no danger from the military exercises hosted by Nepal Army, which itself has been contributing to maintain peace around the world being a part of the UN mission. When no concerns were expressed over the similar drills conducted with India or the US, it looks quite irrelevant to raise concerns when the NA is preparing to hold a similar military drill with China. For a country that has been strictly following the five principles of Panchasheel, all neighbouring and friendly countries are equal no matter whatever their geographical size and military strength. Moreover, Nepal Army and the Chinese armies have established relations in 1792 after the signing of the Nepal-Tibet treaty, more than one and half a century before the creation of modern India in 1947. Again, China has been the most-trustworthy neighbour of Nepal since the two countries established bilateral relations. As such, the proposed Nepal-China military drill looks natural, and there is no need to make it an issue of debate in any context.
Surya Nath Upadhyaya is a member of the Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) from Nepal’s side. The EPG has a two-year term, and it has already spent...