cover image: BRI in Nepal: An Appraisal


BRI in Nepal: An Appraisal

10 Jun 2024

Introduction In September 2023, during Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kumar Dahal’s visit to Beijing to meet with the Chinese President and Premier, the two countries signed 12 agreements on connectivity, security, and sovereignty. [1] Both Kathmandu and Beijing vowed to expedite the signing of the implementation plan for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Many contentious issues that Nepal wanted to raise, however, did not find any mention in the discussions with China. These include the reservations around the funding that Nepal was receiving from China, which included more loans and not grants (which is what Nepal would have preferred), and recent Chinese actions of unilaterally co-opting ‘non-BRI’ projects under the framework. The year 2023 marked a decade since the conceptualisation of China’s flagship BRI. While proposing its formation, Xi Jinping outlined two aspects of the initiative: the Silk Road Economic Belt, and the Maritime Silk Road. The initiative is now viewed in parallel with Beijing’s overall growing economic footprint in different parts of the world. In South Asia, barring India and Bhutan, all other countries have joined the BRI, albeit achieving varying levels of implementation. There are multiple reasons why certain BRI projects are off-track: concerns surrounding unsustainable debts, like in the experience of Sri Lanka; fear of strategic encroachment by China; protests from local populations because of the environmental risks that many projects pose; and China’s opaque lending conditions and exorbitant interest rates. For countries in South Asia, their decision to proceed with the BRI or oppose it is also hinged on a myriad of local factors. [2]
nepal india china security infrastructure investments loans international affairs agreements grants neighbourhood connectivity influence delays bri


Shivam Shekhawat

Shivam Shekhawat, “BRI in Nepal: An Appraisal,” ORF Occasional Paper No. 440 , June 2024, Observer Research Foundation.
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