Nepal Following China’s Economic Path

Two years following the peace agreement that brought an end to 11 years of Maoist insurgency against government forces in Nepal, Girija Prasad Koirala, Nepal’s interim prime minister, has resigned on June 26, paving the way for a Maoist-led government under Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal (also known as Prachanda).

In an exclusive interview with Nanfang Daily, a Chinese newspaper based in Guangdong province, incoming Prime Minister Prachanda emphasized that Nepal’s backward economy is the most pressing challenge: “Without economic development, it will be difficult to maintain social stability.”

Prachanda went on further to chide Western-style capitalism and praised China’s model of economic development as one that Nepal will emulate. “We will build special economic zones like China,” Prachanda said. “The special economic zones stimulated China’s economic development, and we want to learn from China. China’s experience is really helpful for us.” In the interview, Prachanda emphasized the geographic proximity between China and Nepal, and the high respect that Nepalese people have for China and Chinese people. “For Nepal’s national independence, it is critically important for Nepal to maintain intimate relations with China” (Nanfang Daily, June 30).

Wang Hong-wei, a professor at the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview that “China knows very well that India wants to turn Nepal into a second Bhutan or Sikkim. Moreover, Nepal may enter the process of ‘Sikkim-isation’ … But, China must not let this situation occur.” Wang added: “But I think the time has not yet come for China to play an intervening role for that because the feeling of patriotism is still alive in Nepal” (ekantipur.com, June 30). Wang concluded by saying that “maybe he [Chairman Prachanda] will come (to China) after becoming the prime minister … I think he will visit India first and then only China after becoming the prime minister” (eKantipur, June 30).