• Nepal-China Joint Military Exercises

Nepal-China Joint Military Exercises (Photo : Getty Images)

The first-ever Nepal-China military drills commenced on Sunday. The launch will likely bother India as Beijing increases its presence in the region.

Nepal is located in between China and India. For the past few years, the impoverished country has been shifting sides between the sphere of influence of Delhi and Beijing while the two compete for regional supremacy.

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According to the Nepali army, counter-terrorism will be the center of the 10-day drill in Kathmandu. The joint military exercise was named “Sagarmatha Friendship 2017” in reference to the Nepali name for Mount Everest.

“This is in line with our efforts to hold joint exercises with countries that have diplomatic relations with Nepal,” military spokesman Jhankar Bahadur Kadayat said to AFP.

India, which has frequently been reported of playing “big brother” to Nepal, will probably observe the drills closely.

Surrounded by land, Nepal still relies on India for most of its imports. However, the earlier administration insistently strengthened its relations with China. The Nepali nationalist campaign aims to lessen the country’s dependence on New Delhi.

“Nepal and China share a multi-faceted tie and a joint military exercise broadens that relationship,” according to former Nepali ambassador to China Tanka Karki.

Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan paid Nepal a visit last month to talk about the Nepal-China military drills. Chang is the first Chinese defense minister to visit Kathmandu in 15 years.

The present Nepali government, led by Maoist principle, has made efforts to mend tensed relations with India. At the same time, it keeps on accepting financial support from its influential northern neighbor.

China has pledged Nepal with splendid infrastructure projects. Among these promises is an $8.3 billion investment pledge, amounting to about 40 percent of its GDP. The pledge overshadowed the $317 million investment offer by India.

While the Nepal-China military drills boost the ties between the two countries, India may possibly be left uneasy as Chinese influence expands in the region.