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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Intra-party conflict complicates Nepal's peace process

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Internal imbroglio in the political parties has taken an ugly turn, pushing the agenda of peace and constitution writing to the back seat. The peace process has hit a snag, not because of the differences among the parties but because of internal wrangling within the parties. All the major parties at present are occupied in factional fighting, driven by the lust for party power and state power, which has a serious impact on the country’s ongoing political process.
If we look closely at the unfolding developments in the parties, it becomes clear that the political parties are not serious and sincere to the promises made to the people. As a result, public trust on the parties and leaders has waned, bringing uncertainty to the peace process.
Each and every political party is in a mess. Factional fighting has intensified so bitterly that leaders and workers of one faction are not even on talking terms with those from the rival camps let alone working together. The bigger the party, the more serious and bitter the factional fighting. Some political parties have even split as a result. Hence, there are today 31 political parties in the Constituent Assembly, up from an earlier 22. Some more parties may be on the verge of splitting.
The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, which was the fourth largest party in the Constituent Assembly in the beginning, has split into three groups. The Sadbhavana Party that won nine seats in the Constituent Assembly is now divided into two, with Anil Kumar Jha forming a new splinter group called the Federal Sadbhavana Party with four CA members. The Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party, too, has divided, and two separate parties have been registered in the Constituent Assembly.
Although the Madhesi parties are the hardest hit by the ongoing splinter politics, the other parties are not free from this malady. The Communist Party of Nepal (M-L) led by C.P. Mainali also could not remain a unified party and formally split a few months ago, with four disgruntled CA members forming a separate party.
The country’s three major parties are also suffering from this factional fighting. Despite fierce internal bickering, they have, however, remained unified. These parties had experienced the pain of splitting in the past, which has contributed to keeping them unified despite the sharp differences and ugly squabbles internally. However, how long the rival groups will stay together, only time will tell.
There are already different parties within a party and parallel committees and parallel plans and programmes in the same party. They are one party in theory because they have not formally announced a split, but in practice they are divorced.
The UCPN-Maoist is the largest party based on its strength in the Constituent Assembly. Factional fighting in the UCPN-Maoist is the most talked about present. The fate of the peace process and constitution writing is closely linked with the decisions and developments in the UCPN-Maoist. The pungent rivalry and factional fighting in the country’s largest party has sent confusing signals to the other political parties, civil society and the international community that have been closely and keenly watching Nepal’s political developments over the last five years.
There are three distinct groups in the UCPN-Maoist, with each carrying its own agenda on issues related to the peace process. The conformist group, led by party Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal or Prachanda, had the agenda of peace and constitution endorsed by majority of the central committee members, to which Mohan Kiran Baidya registered his note of dissent. Since this was approved by the central committee, the agenda of peace and constitution has become the official line of the party. Dr Baburam Bhattarai’s pragmatist faction also backed Prachanda’s proposal of peace and constitution.
Dr. Bhattarai right from the Palungtar plenum had been constantly and consistently pushing for the agenda of peace and constitution. During the Palungtar plenum, Prachanda and the other vice-chairman, Mohan Vaidya or Kiran, had stood together on the party’s two-pronged strategy - pushing for the completion of the constitution writing and peace process and making preparations for a mass insurrection for radical change. However, this alliance lived short as Prachanda came up with a new proposal of peace and constitution, which is akin to what Baburam had earlier advocated.
Prachanda’s new move brought Baburam Bhattarai closer whereas Kiran was pushed away from the chairman’s camp.
But surprisingly, a new kind of alliance and equation has emerged in the Maoist party. Despite his closeness with the chairman on the political line, Bhattarai has joined hands with senior Vice-chairman Kiran on several issues including organisational responsibilities of the senior party leaders. The Kiran-Bhattarai alliance has demanded that senior party leaders be given appropriate organisational responsibility, that the party be run on the basis of collective leadership and that the principle of democratic centralism be strictly implemented.
Another Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha and the party’s general secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ have joined this alliance which has changed the equation in the UCPN-Maoist.
The intra-party imbroglio in the UCPN-Maoist is now being dubbed as a struggle for power and position. But fundamentally, this is am ideological and political struggle. Supporters of the party chairman have termed the alliance against Prachanda as a move to weaken the party and its principal leadership. However, supporters of the new alliance deny the allegation and term it as a line struggle to clean up and purify the party and transform the leadership.
Since the UCPN-Maoist party is undergoing a big ideological and political debate, it has a direct bearing on peace and the constitution-writing process. Although all the factions in the UCPN-Maoist have emphasised on the need to complete the peace process and write the new constitution, their approaches are different. As a result, the party has not been able to come up with a uniform and clear-cut agenda and approach. As a result, the other parties have got an excuse to blame the UCPN-Maoist and derail the peace and constitution-writing process.
In fact, the Constituent Assembly, federalism, inclusive democracy and republican set up are the Maoist agenda, which can be formally institutionalised only when the new constitution incorporates these issues. The other parties are not comfortable with these issues because they had initially opposed the Constituent Assembly, a new constitution, federalism and republican set up. Even now the other parties have not wholeheartedly embraced these issues but were forced to do so only due to popular sentiment.
If the Maoists are not able to carry the agenda of peace and constitution to a logical conclusion, the other parties would find suitable ground for derailing the entire exercises made over the last five years.
Internal wrangling is a permanent feature in all the parties, including the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML. But their internal problems and stance do not have much impact on Nepal’s national politics at the moment. Thus, the conflict and problems in the UCPN-Maoist must be managed at the earliest on political and ideological grounds instead of seeking temporary patch ups.
As a revolutionary party, the UCPN-Maoist may definitely not be content with a constitution that has been greatly compromised. But the new constitution should be made the point of departure for further changes. Under no pretext should the constitution and the peace process be delayed and derailed. There are elements both at home and abroad that want to abort the ongoing political process and instigate fresh conflict and crisis from which they could reap political benefit.
A conspiracy is already afoot to dissolve the Constituent Assembly. Against this backdrop, the Maoists and other political parties that want change, peace and stability in the country must be cautious against such reactionary conspiracies and not allow their internal conflict to flare up and disrupt the agenda of peace and constitution.

Can India learn lesson from China's diplomacy?

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Not even a week had passed since new Chinese Ambassador Yang Houlan had presented his credentials to President Dr Ram Baran Yadav in Kathmandu, New Delhi announced the name of a new Ambassador to Nepal to replace its unpopular envoy—Rakesh Sood. Jayanta Prasad, a career diplomat who has already served more than two and half decade in the Indian ministry of external affairs, is India's new ambassador to Nepal. Although Prasad 's fundamental duty will be to serve Indian interest in Nepal and pursue the policy and agenda of his own country, he will have to work hard to rebuild India's badly bruised image in the mind of Nepalese people. The new Indian ambassador, if wants to build more cooperative partnership with Nepal and create India's better image in Nepal, will have to work extra time to firstly clean up the heap of diplomatic mess his predecessor Rakesh Sood had created and secondly pursue different approach so that the susceptibility of Nepalese people towards India would, to a large degree, be dispelled. If Jayanta Prasad shows the courage to depart from the style and method of his predecessors and acts like a diplomat, it would pave the practical ground for more friendly, cooperative and cordial relationship between Nepal and India.
However, such a behavior from the current Indian establishment and its representative is least expected given the attitude and policy of the India towards Nepal. India's Nepal policy is guided by colonial mindset and New Delhi continues to pursue the same old polices that British colonial power adopted in the past. Although the conduct of diplomacy is guided by the policy of the state, the behavior and skill of a particular person makes a big difference. The sentiments of the Nepalese people were badly hurt during the tenure of Rakesh Sood as an ambassador. Sood forgot that he was a diplomat and his job was to promote bilateral relations between Nepal and India. Instead, he behaved as though he was here as a governor general, who indulged more in political activities than conducting diplomacy. His activities, actions and overtures often hurt the sentiments of patriotic Nepali people and contributed to heightened anti-Indian feelings in Nepal. In response, Sood was often greeted with black flags by people wherever he went. The insult to the diplomat of any country is definitely not a good thing but this was the making of Indian establishment in general and the outgoing ambassador Sood in particular.
Nepal is a priority country for India. India treats Nepal as its priority country because it wants to keep it under its sphere of influence. India's contribution to Nepal's development, stability and peace is always negative, which is the main contributor to rising anti-Indian sentiments in Nepal. It is expected that the new Indian ambassador would learn lesson from the diplomatic blunder of his predecessor and use his long experience and diplomatic acumen for better bilateral relations between Nepal and India. As an ambassador he cannot go beyond the policy of his government and change the state policies, he can dispel the susceptibility and hatred through his good conduct of diplomacy.
Nepal is also a priority country of China. Beijing's priority is to help Nepal so that it can be self-reliant, stable, strong and peaceful. China is of the view that its interests are best served when its neighbours are stable, strong, peaceful and prosperous. This is exactly the same policy when it comes to the relationship with Nepal. Nepal-China relations are age-old which date back to as early as seventh century. But there is no problem in the bilateral relationship between Nepal and China. At the same time, relations between Nepal and India are always marked by susceptibility and misunderstanding. Beijing has always been willing to provide necessary moral and material support for Nepal's stability and development whereas New Delhi always wants to squeeze and exploit Nepal. This is the fundamental difference in Nepal's bilateral relations with China and India.
China has its security concern in Nepal. China and Nepal have perfectly good neighbourly and friendly relations and neither of them poses any kind of threat. China's security concern in Nepal is not only its own security but also the security of Nepal. This is mainly because of Nepal's open border with India and unrestricted and unregulated movement of the people across Nepal-India border, which has been misused by some India-backed unscrupulous and criminal elements to launch disruptive activities in Tibet.
The world has recognized Tibet as an integral part of China. But some countries including India have adopted double standard. When dealing with China diplomatically, they accept that Tibet is a part of China but behind the scene they have extended moral and material support to criminal activities to destabilize China in general and Tibet in particular. With the rise of China economically on the world stage, the western capitalist countries in collaboration with India are trying to encircle China from all sides and create trouble in China with the objective of weakening Beijing economically, politically and militarily. Tibet issue is being used as their best bet to harass and embarrass China in the international arena. Some western countries and India have chosen Nepal as a launch pad to instigate anti-China and criminal activities especially in Tibet.
Nepal has adopted one-China policy and its long-cherished policy is not to allow its territory to be used against any of our neighbours. China has appreciated Nepal's one China policy and its commitment not to allow anti-China activities in Nepal. Despite its resolve not to allow its territory to be used against other countries, Nepal has not been able to completely check anti-China activities, which is attributed in part to its resource crunch and in part to the involvement of the international and regional powers behind anti-China activities. An English language weekly of Nepal reported that CIA alone made more than 42 million US dollars available for the activities aiming at disrupting the Beijing Olympic Games held three years ago. Funded by CIA and some other western countries and executed by India in collaboration with some of their agents in Nepal, they vigorously launched activities to disrupt the Olympic Games. However, such activities were prevented because of greater vigil, caution and commitment of both Nepal and China. Beijing soon after the Olympic Games had extended its wholehearted appreciation to the efforts of Nepal government.
China understands the sensitivity and problems Nepal is facing and it has been effortful in strengthening Nepal's capability to tackle and check anti-China activities. Beijing knows that its interests are best served only when Nepal becomes strong, stable and peaceful. But China's worry has intensified following India-US strategic and nuclear partnership, which was aimed at weakening Beijing. China has suspected that Nepal could be another flash point of conflict because of US-India alliance and their plan to use Nepal as a launch pad against China. More than that China's susceptibility has grown after India started directly interfering in Nepal's affairs. The Madhes-based parties in Nepal are the creation of India and the agenda raised by these parties India's making in order to have better and stronger control over Nepal's politics and other affairs, which has been viewed by patriotic Nepalese people as well as by China as a dangerous move to undermine Nepal's sovereignty and ultimately checkmate China. The issue concerning single Madhes state with the right to self-determination is the agenda of India which wants to split Nepal and create a separate country in Terai and ultimately annex it in the same fashion as it did in Sikkim in 1975. This is a rehearsal to first split Nepal into different parts and finally take over one after another. China has understood New Delhi's sinister design and has been cautiously watching these developments. If India's design succeeds in Nepal, it will have its fallout also in China's southern parts, which China must have understood more clearly.
Nepal is crucially important for the security of China's south-western frontier. Although Nepal has always been a priority country for China, the unfolding events especially over the last four years have made China more worried and serious. The choice of the present ambassador to Nepal, who is a senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has a greater access to China's power circle, is indicative of the fact that China attaches greater importance to the relationship with Nepal and is more serious in Nepal's security situation. Ambassador Yang is well verse both in international diplomacy as well as security matters. Now China is more concerned not only with Nepal's security but also its social, cultural and economic development. China is willing to work together and support in any fields Nepal wants. China has already shown interests in Nepal's big infrastructure projects, hydro-power development, expanding bilateral trade and investment and also cultural assistance. Recently, a non-governmental organization of China has shown interest for the development of Lumbini—the birth place of Lord Buddha and an international pilgrimage of Buddhists all over the world. If this project at all kicks off and completes as per the design and schedule, Lumbini would be an international Buddhist hub which would help Nepal's tourism industry to leap forward. Moreover, it would also help counter the sinister design of India that has launched an international disinformation campaign about Lumbini and the Kingdom of Kapilvastu.
In contrast, India's role and interest in Nepal are different, which are marked more by its desire to control Nepal's affairs especially security and foreign policy. As a result, Nepal-India were always characterized by suspicion and susceptibility, which got worse during the tenure of ambassador Sood. It seems that New Delhi has recently realized the blunder in the design, handling and conduct of Nepal policy. A section of Indian intelligentsia has pointed out this weakness in the conduct of Indian foreign policy and has sought change in Nepal policy and its handling. A senior diplomat like Jayanta Prasad must be aware of this situation and is expected to correct the past mistakes. Although the ambassador cannot change the policy, he can at least demonstrate universally accepted diplomatic behavior and work to promote bilateral relations on the basis of mutual benefit and without hurting the sentiments of Nepali people. Nepalese people have no ill feelings towards India and Indian people. Their objection is only against the hegemonic and hawkish attitude and policy of Indian establishment. If India changes its hawkish and hegemonic policy, Nepal and Indian can have excellent relations which could a model for other countries in the world. For this, India needs to learn a lesson from China's diplomacy especially with its neighbours.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Politics Goes Haywire In Nepal

Yuba Nath Lamsal
When politics goes haywire, people are the ultimate victims. Politics occupies a dominant place everywhere in the world. This is more so in the developing and least developed countries where the process of nation building is underway. Even in the developed western democracies, politics continues to dominate the other sectors although the economy is said to dictate politics.
In a developing country like ours, everything revolves around politics. Given our own experience and also in some other developing countries, including our neighbours, politics is guided, motivated and dictated by power. The general rule of politics is and should be to serve the people, and politics should be guided, motivated and dictated by the interests and welfare of the people
Power - the driving force
Unfortunately, this does not happen in Nepal as the politicians, parties and leaders run after power and position rather than the interest of the people and the country. This is the stark reality of present-day politics in most of the developing countries including Nepal.
The politics driven by power, position and perks is the root cause of the present mess Nepal is witnessing. Politics should have been part of the solution to the conflicts raging in the society. Instead, politics has become the source of all conflicts and problems in Nepal. This is not a new phenomenon but has been in existence for a long time.
The decade-long armed insurgency, which the Maoists call the ‘People’s War’, brought to the fore the core issues of the conflict that had remained hidden for years, decades and even centuries. The superstructure of the Nepali society in itself is evident of numerous conflicts and contradictions. The control over the economy, resources and political power has given birth to conflicts of various forms ever since Nepal was created as a unified political entity almost 240 years ago.
The conflicts and contradictions were expressed on various occasions in different forms. But such conflict could not appeal to the people in an effective way. As a result, the resistance movements in the past failed to achieve their goals. Some were aborted halfway through and some were crushed by the ruling class with brutal force, while a few achieved partial success.
Although there were disgruntlements against the ruling elites, the people did not come to the fore in an organised and formidable form in the past. As a result, the ruling class could easily suppress the small and disorganised resistance movements. Moreover, the ruling class and their leaders often engineered various plots to eliminate their enemies and consolidate their hold on power.
The monarchy was the centre of power until it was abolished three years ago. The monarchy deliberately created two rival groups in the political superstructure and pitted one group against the other and kept them busy in the internal power struggle. This was their strategy to retain their stronghold on power.
The Kot Parva (Kot massacre), Bhandarkhal Parva and Aalu Parva are some of the plots and intrigues engineered by the palace in association with different groups in the palace and higher political clusters to eliminate the prospective enemies. The Kot Parva, which was jointly engineered by a section of the palace and a group of the upper power echelon, gave rise to Rana family rule that lasted for over a century.
The resistance movement at the popular level was visible in an organised manner in the late 20th century. Library Parva, Prachanda Gorkha and Jayatu Sanskritam alike were people’s organised resistance movements against the repressive regime. The resistance movements remained small in size and strength, and they were easily crushed by the brutal regime.
The formation of the Praja Parishad and its activities were the first resistance movement that touched the heart of the people. This sowed the real seed of discontent and movement against the ruling class and oligarchic system. The ruling class or the Ranas - who were the virtual rulers although the monarchy was intact - awarded some members of the Praja Parishad with the death penalty and some with life imprisonment with confiscation of their property.
When four members of the resistance movement, namely, Sukraraj Shastri, Dasharath Chand, Gangalal Shrestha and Dharma Bhakta Mathema, were hanged by the Rana rulers, it slowly created a stir in the minds of the Nepali people and gave rise to an organised popular resistance movement. The Nepali Congress Party, which had developed on the foundation of the Praja Parishad, cashed in on the simmering discontent of the people against the ruling class.
The Congress Party which had revolutionary zeal and programmes was quick to win over the people and mobilised the mass for a revolution. Although this revolution, too, was aborted in the name of a tripartite Delhi Agreement, this was the first popular and organised resistance movement that had mass support. The people overwhelmingly supported the Nepali Congress-led revolution in the belief that it would not deceive the people and would successfully complete the revolution to bring about radical change.
The concept of radical change during that period was to bring about systemic change that would transfer power from the feudal class to the new revolutionary class. But the Nepali Congress in the guise of an agreement gave up its agenda and stance and instead entered into an alliance with the old ruling class.
Until then, the Ranas were at the helm of affairs whereas the 1951 change transferred power from the Ranas to the Shah kings. But it did not bring about systemic change in Nepal but just concentrated power in the same feudal class. The kings and Ranas belong to the same class which protected the interests of the feudal class.
Moreover, the Nepali Congress which had earlier championed for revolutionary change in Nepal also surrendered to the feudal class just for power. In this way, the Nepali Congress rallied behind the feudal and bureaucratic capitalist class.
The 1951 change did not bring about any significant change in Nepal’s political, economic and social strata but gave continuity to the old order. In the 1950/51 revolution, the revolutionary forces and people had pinned high hopes on the Nepali Congress and expected radical change. Their hopes were dashed as the Nepali Congress also joined the ranks of the feudal class, landlords and bureaucratic capitalist class.
The imperialists and regional hegemonic powers had played a crucial role in the degeneration of the Nepali Congress from a revolutionary party to a petty bourgeoisie party.
A similar phenomenon was repeated in Nepal time and again until 2006. Even the 1990 political movement brought about only cosmetic changes. The 1990 movement curtailed some prerogatives of the king but accepted the monarchy as the center of power. Despite this, the 1990 political change had some positive aspects as it laid the ground for further mobilising the people for real change in the country.
The conflict between the rulers and the ruled and between the feudal-bureaucratic capitalists and the working class remained unresolved. There are numerous conflicts in the Nepali society over political power; access to economic opportunities and resources; and ethnic, lingual and cultural identity. The ruling class tried to suppress these conflicts and growing discontent among the people. These conflicts and contradictions of the Nepali society kept on snowballing, which became more visible only after the Maoists started the armed insurgency.
The Maoists identified the fundamental conflicts and contradictions in the society and not only raised these issues more prominently but also put forward their vision and plans to address them. Politically, they hit at feudalism and its patron - the monarchy. Economically, the Maoists advocated an egalitarian society. The Maoists also launched a crusade against all kinds of social and cultural anomalies, including untouchability and all forms of discrimination.
The approach of the Maoists in dealing with and addressing the inherent conflicts and contradictions in the society enjoyed popular support, especially from those belonging to different ethnic, lingual and cultural communities - groups that hitherto were discriminated and marginalised.
More than that, the Maoists adopted the strategy that the feudal system that was protected by the armed forces could be overthrown only by force. The Maoists’ conclusion was that the political movement and people’s resistance failed to bring about systemic change in Nepal in the past because the movements were peaceful in nature, which could easily be suppressed by the feudal force. Based on this conclusion, the Maoists built its own army and challenged the feudal monarchical system and finally succeeded in toppling it.
Bizarre politics
In the past, one class - the feudal and bureaucratic capitalist class - ruled the rest of the people. Now a republic system has been established by dismantling the old power structure. With the abolition of the monarchy and establishment of a republic, the Nepali people have become masters of their own destiny.
Still politics is not moving in the right direction. The self-centered approach of the parties and leaders has taken a big toll of our politics because no significant progress has been made in the process of institutionalising the achievements. Nepal’s politics has become bizarre, and people continue to suffer.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

US-Maoist Relations: Guided By Cold War Era

Yuba Nath Lamsal
The policy of the United States on Nepal’s Maoists still seems to be shaped by the perceptions of the Cold War despite the sea change in Nepal’s political landscape over the last five years. The Maoists have not only given up the armed insurgency and joined peaceful politics, but they have also proved their supremacy in competitive politics.
The U.S. as the champion of liberal democracy uses certain yardsticks in measuring the degree of democracy and freedom. One such yardstick is free and fair elections. In the Constituent Assembly election held three-and-a-half years ago, the Maoists won over 50 per cent of the seats in the first-past-the post system, and emerged as the largest force in the proportionate system.
Signs of thaw
The recent days have seen some signs of thaw in the fallacy and mistrust between the Maoists and the United States. The increased engagement between the U.S. and the Maoists is definitely a step towards building mutual trust. The interactions, meetings and exchanges have, however, yet to transform the misgivings into a partnership. The Maoists have offered an olive branch to the United States and sought to build and develop mutual relations based on international norms of diplomacy and shared values. However, Washington’s cold response puts Nepal’s largest political force and the world’s mightiest country still at unease.
As part of engaging and interacting with the Nepali Maoists and also with the objective of helping write Nepal’s constitution, the U.S. Department of State, in collaboration with some civil society groups, had organised a 10-day conference in Boston in July last year. In it, over two dozen delegates from all the major parties, including the UCPN-Maoist, had been invited.
The Boston Negotiation and State Building Programme for Nepali Political Leaders’ or the ‘Boston Initiative’ was an effort at also having better rapport with the Nepali Maoists. But the U.S. refused visas to some of the Maoist leaders who had been invited to the Boston Initiative, following which the UCPN-Maoist called back all of its members. Although the conference went on, the core purpose of the Boston Initiative was defeated.
The core problem with the relationship between the Nepali Maoists and the United States is the ideology which has guided their perceptions at looking at one another. The United States is a capitalist democracy, characterised by a pluralist political system, universal franchise, periodic elections, an independent judiciary, a free press, and proper checks and balances among the three branches of the government. On the economic front, it champions a market economy in which the market determines everything.
In stark contrast, Nepal’s Maoists adopt Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as its guiding ideology. The UCPN-Maoist sees the United States as the global leader of imperialism which protects and patronises feudal, capitalist and bourgeoisie regimes and groups all over the world. The UCPN-Maoist has analysed the present state of Nepal as being in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial situation, which they want to dismantle and establish a new system in which there is no exploitation and discrimination.
The Maoist model of revolution is the Chinese Revolution. The Maoists’ first target was the monarchy and they succeeded in dismantling it. During the insurgency, the United States saw the Maoists through the prism of Nepal’s monarchist regime and backed the Nepali monarchy against the Maoists. This US policy has not changed even after the abolition of monarchy.
Even in the present context, the UCPN-Maoist and Washington are suspicious of one another. This mistrust, which is marked by psychological fear, has a negative bearing on Nepal’s stability and its fledgling peace process. The Maoists are open and want to work closely on certain shared interests and issues. The situation of the Cold War does not exist, and the issue of ideology should no longer affect the diplomatic relationship between the two.
There have been instances of cooperation between the capitalists and the communists for a common cause in the past. During World War II, the United Kingdom, United States and France entered into an alliance with communist USSR to fight against the Germans. Even at the height of the Cold War, the United States and communist China cooperated with one another against the onslaught of Soviet imperialism.
When ideology was put aside in the fight against a common enemy and for a shared interest in the past, there should be no reason why Washington should not be pragmatic in having a better working relationship with the UCPN-Maoist.
Moreover, the UCPN-Maoist does not pose any threat to the interests of the United States either in Nepal or in the international arena. Although the Maoists regard the United States as the global imperialist leader, they have not designated Washington as their principal enemy.
The United States is now fighting a war on terror especially against Islamic fundamentalism. Although the UCPN-Maoist does not support the way the US is waging this war, it in no way supports any kind of theocratic regime and politics being advocated by Islamic groups including Al Queda and the Taliban. In principle, the US and UCPN-Maoist have a common view on religious fundamentalism.
The United States has some principal policy objectives in Nepal, which include Nepal’s independence and territorial integrity; peace and stability, democracy, poverty alleviation and religious freedom. The Maoists also hold a similar agenda in Nepal. On the issue of national independence and territorial integrity, the Maoists are more serious than any other political party and force and this is their highest priority.
Based on historical facts and India’s neighbourhood policy, the Maoists have concluded that Nepal’s sovereignty and independence are under threat from nowhere but India. On the question of religious freedom, the US and UCPN-Maoist have common views as secularism is a Maoist agenda.
If the United States wants Nepal’s sovereignty and independence intact, it must work closely with the UCPN-Maoist. So far as the issues of peace, constitution are concerned, the desired objective cannot be achieved by isolating and marginalising the largest political force of Nepal. Secondly, the Maoists have joined peaceful politics, and should they continue to be marginalised, the ex-rebels would be left with no option but to go back to the jungle and launch an armed insurgency once again.
Collaboration
Now the question is whether to give continuity to the peace and democratic process or to invite another round of armed conflict. If the United States wants peace, stability and democracy, it should collaborate with the UCPN-Maoist and not only with the forces that were rejected by the people.

China's priorities in Nepal

Yuba Nath Lamsal
On the eve of 90th anniversary of founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), to which China has attached greater importance, Beijing sent a senior official at the foreign ministry to take up diplomatic task in the Himalayan republic. This may be a mere coincidence but it carries a special meaning and significance in the bilateral relations between Nepal and China. Yang Houlan, the new ambassador of the People\'s Republic of China, assumed diplomatic responsibility in Nepal on June 20 when he presented his credentials to President Dr Ram Baran Yadav. Since then he has kept himself busy in flurry of diplomatic activities including meeting and interaction with different stakeholders. As a new ambassador of an immediate neighbour of Nepal, the meeting and interaction with leaders and officials is normal as they are aimed at getting familiar with the political and diplomatic circle of Nepal and also getting a feel of ongoing developments in Nepal. Yang\'s appointment as a new ambassador has been viewed with much significance and curiosity in Nepal\'s political and diplomatic circle. It did stir curiosity mainly because of two things. One is early withdrawal of Yang\'s predecessor and the other one is Yang\'s background and credential. The newly appointed ambassador is, perhaps, the senior most diplomat ever sent to Nepal since Nepal and China established diplomatic relations. More than that the educational background, past tract records and diplomatic experiences and acumen Yang possesses are the subject of concern and curiosity to many China watchers in Nepal. Yang\'s appointment gives a clear message that China accords greater importance to the relations with Nepal. Ambassador Yang holds an advanced degree from American University and speaks fluent English. For a diplomat, fluency in languages spoken in the international level is very important. English has now become a lingua franca in the diplomatic circle everywhere in the world. Although diplomacy and language are two different things and person having good diplomatic acumen can handle things, skill in multiple languages especially well verse in an internationally spoken language makes job of diplomats easier. In the sphere of modern day diplomacy, fluency in international language other than the native ones and good knowledge in the local language of the host country are considered additional strength and qualification of diplomats. Ambassador Yang speaks English fluently which is an additional feather in his hat which is why he is expected to handle things differently and more appropriately than his predecessors. The earlier Chinese ambassadors did not speak English fluently, which made them dependent on interpreters for communication with foreigners. But Yang can communicate directly so that there would not be language barrier for him. Secondly, he has expertise and knowledge of diplomatic nuances as he already served in countries which are strategically and diplomatically vital for China. The sophistication and sensitivity with which he handled affairs of Korean Peninsula, which is strategically vital for China, have proved his diplomatic acumen. The other country where Yang worked as a diplomat is Afghanistan which has drawn global attention at present. Yang has now been sent to Nepal with special responsibility of further strengthening bilateral relations and addressing some of the serious and vital concerns of China in this Himalayan republic. China has its own interests in Nepal, which are natural for an immediate neighbour that shares a long border. As is the case with every country in the world, China\'s first and the foremost concern is its national interest. In the expense of national interests, nothing else can have any meaning and significance. This is a plain truth of diplomacy. But China\'s interests are also linked with Nepal\'s national interests. The first interest of China is its security and Beijing wants to ensure that there would be no threat and danger to its stability and security from Nepal\'s soil. This concern is genuine as some countries are instigating anti-China acidities in the name of the so-called Tibetan exiles. Although Nepal has iterated its one-China policy time and again and vowed not to allow its territory to be used against the interest of China, this has not been translated into action. Nepal Government is unable to completely check anti-China activities for two reasons. Firstly, some political parties maintain double standard as regard for checking anti-China activities. These parties, on the one hand, express their commitment in public not to allow anti-China activities, they, at the time time, hobnob with the countries and forces that are active in destablize China, on the other. This issue is directly linked with China\'s security and territorial integrity and Beijing can never compromise on this issue, which Nepal has to take into account. Nepal is a country with which China has a long border. But Nepal does not manage and regulate its own border. Nepal shares border with China in the north and has a long unregulated border with India. China has border dispute with India and once fought border war in 1962. The border between China and India has not yet been resolved. China is susceptible to India because of its undependable behavior especially with its neighbours. In the case of China, which has already emerged as a global power, certain western powers collaborate with India to instigate anti-China activities through Nepal\'s territory. Nepal-India open border has made the job of these unscrupulous elements, who want to infiltrate into Nepal with the ultimate objective of creating instability in Tibet, easier. This is one of the major concerns of China and Beijing wants Nepal to address this issue with urgency. The other interest of China is trade. China has already emerged as world\'s second largest economy. Its trade has dominated in East Asia, Africa, Europe, America and Latin America. In South Asia, too, China\'s trade with Pakistan and Sri Lanka is huge in volume. Its trade with Bangladesh is also growing rapidly. China is India\'s second largest trading partner. But the volume of trade is low with Nepal despite being so close. China wants to enlarge the volume of trade with Nepal, which would definitely benefit China because its products will find market in Nepal. At the same time, the increased trade with China would benefit Nepal as well. Currently, Nepal is over dependent on India for supplies of goods. As a result, more than 60 per cent of Nepal\'s trade is with India, whereas Nepal\'s volume of trade with China is only about 10 per cent. Even in Nepal\'s own interest, its trade needs to be diversified for which China is interested and forthcoming. Moreover, Nepal is a bridge between China and South Asia and accordingly it should play its role. If Nepal was developed as a transit economy between China and India, we can have a lot of benefits out of it and Nepal\'s strategic value could further go up. Along with trade, economic cooperation is yet another area of China\'s interest. China is a global economic power but its prosperity would be meaningless if poverty, instability and backwardness exist in the next door neighbour. China has realized this and taken it seriously. Poverty is the fertile ground for instability and chaos. If chaotic situation persists in Nepal, it would have its impact in Tibet, which is already a target of some countries that want to create instability in China. Prosperous and stable Nepal is in the interest of China, which Beijing has come to realize. For this, China is willing to cooperate. There are many areas of economic cooperation between Nepal and China. Beijing is willing to assist for infrastructure development in Nepal in general and in areas adjoining Tibet Autonomous regions in particular, which the newly appointed ambassador has already made public through media. Similarly, China is interested to invest in Nepal\'s hydro power and other areas. For this, the initiative should come from Nepal government. Beijing knows well that peace and stability are main prerequisite for increased trade and economic cooperation. China has, thus, laid particular emphasis on peace and stability in Nepal which alone create atmosphere conducive for development and economic cooperation between the two countries. China\'s other prime interest in Nepal and also in the entire South Asia is the SAARC, which is the regional body of eight South Asian countries including Nepal, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan. China has already showed its interest to cooperate with the SAARC. It has acquired observer status along with Japan, Korea and the United States. But China\'s position viz-a-viz other observers is different. China is very much part of South Asia because it shares border with almost all members of the SAARC. Even the members of the SAARC do not have common border with all but China has. For instance, China shares land border with Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan whereas maritime has linked China with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives. Based on these facts, China should be given full membership of the SAARC and Beijing should also be forthcoming to join the South Asian organization as a full-fledged member. This would be in the interest of both China and South Asia. The SAARC at present is being called as the poor people\'s club and it has not been able to expedite the process for which the organization was created due to fund crunch. Most of the SAARC members are resource strapped countries which cannot make significant monetary contribution to the SAARC. Lack of adequate fund has impeded activities of the SAARC. The only country that is in position to make significant monetary contribution is India. But New Delhi is trying more to squeeze the association rather than strengthening it and bolstering and enlarging its activities. If China joins the SAARC, it would serve as a counterweight to India as well as the organization will be more financially equipped. Against this background, China should be persuaded to join the SAARC as a full member for which South Asian countries including Nepal have to play a meaningful role. We must not forget the fact that the SAARC cannot be complete without the participation of China. These are and should be the interests and concerns of China in Nepal and South Asia. There is a tremendous good will of Nepali people towards China and the people of China. However, the interaction and exchange at the people\'s level are relatively low in volume. Stronger bond at the people\'s level and cultural linkages make the official relations stronger and more sustainable. As a career diplomat, the newly appointed Ambassador of China, Yang Houlan, must be aware of this reality and is expected to pay attention to address these issues with greater urgency.

Friday, July 1, 2011

China stands tall in global arena

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Upon victory of Chinese Revolution on October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong, the architect of modern China, proudly declared the establishment of People's Republic of China in Tiananmen Square proclaiming ' We, the Chinese people, have now stood up'. True to Mao's words, China has stood and is standing tall in the world economy accompanied by military power, thanks largely to the great people's revolution of China and pragmatic leadership and hard work of the Chinese people. As envisioned by the founding fathers and their successors, China stands now as a proud country and a model of development for the countries and people in the developing world.Of a few miraculous events that the world has seen in the modern history of mankind, Chinese Revolution is one of them, which has been a source of inspiration for liberation movements across the globe. The charisma and commitment with which the founding fathers of modern China like Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Chu The, Deng Xiaoping and alike led the revolution that defeated Chiang Kai-shek's reactionary Kuomintang regime backed by imperialist powers and established the People's Republic of China, continues to be a role model for billions of poor and downtrodden people in the world even today. The revolution not only heralded a new course in China's political history but also completely changed the international power equation putting China on the global spotlight and reviving once again China's lost glory and pride.The CPC, under whose banner the Chinese Revolution was launched and succeeded, was founded on July 1, 1921 in Shanghai by Mao with just 50 members. Now the CPC has grown so rapidly to become the largest political organization in the world with more than 80 million active members, which elucidates party's massive popularity among the Chinese mass. According to Wang Qinfeng, deputy head of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, who recently briefed the media persons on the achievements China made during the last 62 years in Beijing, more than three million people joined the CPC only last year (2010). More young Chinese are being attracted to the CPC because of the role the party has played for the transformation and development of China creating tremendous opportunities for the people both at home and abroad.As said by Mao Zedong, China has stood up and is marching ahead on the path of development so rapidly and resolutely that it has already been a second largest economy leaving behind Japan. There are credible projections that China is poised to become the world's largest economy surpassing the United States within a couple of decades. The entire credit goes to the Communist Party of China, its committed and visionary leaders and the determined and hard-working people.The 90-year history of China since CPC was founded marks a tumultuous period-war, civil strife, foreign attacks and interference, famine and hunger. This period can be divided into five phases-war, renaissance, reconstruction, reforms and technological innovation. The period between 1921 and 1949 was an era of war when the entire strength of the party and its cadres was concentrated on the liberation of China from the Kuomintang rule and also from the external attacks and intervention. The protracted war fought by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in close collaboration with the people and under strict guidance, instruction and supervision of the CPC is, perhaps, the longest and most successful liberation war in the world.The period of 1949 and 1976 is an era of revival of national pride and reconstruction. During this period, the CPC, under the guidance and leadership of Mao, consolidated power quickly and moved to gain confidence of the Chinese population, particularly by addressing economic, social and cultural problems that had worsened during the civil war. The immediate priority of the new found revolutionary government was to restructure social relationship, effect economic restructuring and land and agricultural reforms in order to stimulate agro-production and industrial growth across the country. These moves built good rapport and relations between the communist party and the people. The massive land and agricultural reforms enhanced farm outputs and dramatically reduced hunger and malnutrition in the Chinese countryside. The other priority of the new regime was to unify the country and end foreign domination in which CPC was successful. At a time when confidence of Chinese people was low because of external attacks, interventions and domination followed by internal exploitation of the reactionary rulers, incredible perseverance and skillfully conceived strategy of the CPC and its leaders instilled a deeper sense of patriotism in the mind and heart of the Chinese people that not only boosted China's national confidence and pride but also drew colossal respect from ordinary people and even critics of the CPC. The series of policy initiatives that were announced and implemented after the revolution transformed the semi-feudal, illiterate and agrarian society into a modern, progressive and egalitarian country.The 'three antis' (anti-corruption, anti-extravagance, and anti-bureaucracy) move launched by the CPC soon after the revolution became so popular among the people that China began to see a new national culture-culture of fairness, efficiency, competence and accountability. This move not only discouraged corruption and bureaucratic red tape but also maintained austerity in order to address economic woes China had faced for a long time during the war and also transformed the country into a socialist state, which was the integral objective of the overall mission of the Chinese revolution.China did make a leap forward on many fronts. As the country was devastated by series of wars, reconstruction was carried out in a massive way. Infrastructure development is still the priority of the present government. Despite efforts of stimulating growth, agricultural production, industrialization and uplifting the living condition of the people, China was still a poor and developing countries. Tens of millions of people lived in poverty and backwardness. Although country was liberated from feudal rule and external domination, the liberation of the people from poverty, hunger and disease still remained a major challenge of the revolutionary government.In 1976 China faced a leadership setback as Mao Zedong, the central figure of Chinese revolution and a source of inspiration, passed away. Although he no longer remains mortally, Mao lives on in the mind of over a billion Chinese people even today. The demise of the 'great helmsman' as Mao is called, had given rise to speculations both within and outside China that a new leadership struggle would escalate in the CPC. But China sailed through smoothly as Deng Xiaoping, the pragmatist and paramount leader, came in to fill the void left by Mao's demise. Deng's rise marked a new chapter in China's history.With the rise of the 'tiny giant of a man' as Deng was called, China entered into a new phase of history with focus on opening up and economic reforms and modernization-a brand of new era of development. The reforms were pursued so vigorously that turned China into a modern economic power house accompanied by increased international clout.The arduous struggle and strenuous efforts of 60 years under the government of CPC in general and 32 years of economic reforms have brought about momentous changes in otherwise impoverished and backward China. Deng often used to recall the old Chinese saying 'one has to cross the river by feeing with feet the riverbed' was a reference to China's inexperience in economic reforms. Taking it as a mantra, Chinese leaders backed by the people pursued reforms which have done wonders on the path of building socialism.Some classical Marxists and critics of the reforms dubbed the changes as the degeneration into capitalist and revisionist path. But Deng and other leaders called it 'socialism with Chinese characteristics' or socialist market economy'. 'It does not matter whether the cat is black or white it should catch the mice' was Deng's oft quoted saying which convinced the people to support and participate in the march to modernization. The pragmatic practice proved that building socialism with Chinese characteristics is a broad road to economic prosperity and all-round social progress in China.Under the great banner of Marxism, Leninism, and Mao Zedong Thought and also with Deng's development vision, China is marching ahead steadily and resolutely and now stands as a powerful and prosperous country in the world. Deng's followers like Jiang Jemin and President Hu Jintao gave continuity to his reform initiatives. Jiang's presidency was an early phase of modernization with focus on economic reforms, whereas Hu's tenure is the period of consolidation of reforms and technological innovation. As the second largest economy and also poised to become the largest economy in the world, China has not only focused on its domestic development but has lately felt its international obligation and seems to be committed to assist the poor and developing countries in the world. President Hu and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao appear to be determined to work resolutely for further consolidation of Chinese brand of socialism, which is being followed by several other countries in the world as their model for development. The CPC had laid down the mission and set the vision to completly liberate the people from poverty, hunger and backwardness right from the beginning. With the reforms and modernization process picking up momentum, this vision is slowly being materialized. Tens of millions of people are lifted from absolute poverty every year and China plans to completely eradicate poverty in the next one decade. The World Bank has hailed these actions of China as a possible model of poverty reduction in other countries.The successes and setbacks of the CPC during the period of 90 years can be important lessons for the communists and working class all over the world. The Communist Party of China has shown the world that, despite ills and odds, missions and objectives could be achieved, if the party leadership was able to visualize the dangers ahead and accordingly take appropriate moves and measures to tackle them taking the people along. This maturity and far-sightedness could be seen in the leadership of the CPC, which lacked in other communist parties elsewhere in the world. It is now, expected that the CPC would further develop a world vision, strategic capabilities and correct developmental and ideological orientation for the development of China and also the world. In the name of pragmatism and seizure of opportunities, China should not give its ideological stance and fraternal relationship with the rest of the world.

US should not fear Maoists in Nepal

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Although they are in better position today than during the time of Peoples' War, the relations between the United States of America and the UCPN-Maoist are still uneasy, much to the chagrin of young Himalayan republic's fledgling peace and stability. The crisis of trust that has embittered the relationship between the world's only super power and Nepal's largest political force is mainly owing to psychological fear and flawed perception in understanding one another. This is more so on the part of Washington as it unnecessarily suspects the intention and behavior of the UCPN-Maoist. If Nepal's peace, stability and prosperity are to be institutionalized, the suspicion and differences between the Maoists and the US must be narrowed down and a working partnership built to cope with the present changed context.The United States still carries the old ideological baggage that existed during the Cold War era when it comes to dealing with communists and revolutionaries across the globe. The United States perceives the communists and revolutionary forces as ideological and security threat. With the end of the Cold War this situation no longer exists. Despite far-reaching changes taken place in the sphere of international power balance and security perception, the United States' outlook towards the communists does not seem to have changed. So is with its relationship with the UCPN-Maoist, the largest political force of Nepal.The Maoists in Nepal by no means pose any kind of threat to US interests anywhere in the world nor do ex-rebels ever regard America as their principal enemy. It is true that the United States and Nepali Maoists have ideological differences, but UCPN-Maoist does not at all intend to reflect this ideological difference in the diplomatic relationship with any country and government in the world including the United States. The issue of Ideology and ideological difference is an academic subject which has nothing to do with diplomatic relationship and conduct of country's foreign policy.Gone are the old days of ideological hangover of the Cold War era when the United States and the Western countries treated the communist countries as their nemesis and vice versa. In the post Cold War world, national interests and pragmatism have replaced ideological egoism in shaping international relations and conduct of foreign policy and diplomacy. Communists are more pragmatists in the conduct of foreign policy and international relations. This can be substantiated by the cooperation between the revolutionary communists and capitalist United States and the western world on some key international issues. In the World War II, communist Russia took part in the war along with the allied force that included the United Kingdom and France, among others, against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Feudal Japan. Also during the Cold War, Communist China and capitalist America cooperated with one another to check Russian social imperialism. The cooperation between Russia and the United Kingdom in the World War II was not based on ideological compatibility but on the ground of objective reality and necessity. Nazism, fascism and feudalism were the common enemy of the capitalist United Kingdom and the communist Russia. The alliance between the United Kingdom and Russia in the World War II was a tactical move against the common enemies. The objective analysis of international situation required socialist Russia to take part in the war against fascism that gave certain dividend to socialist camp in the post word era. Until World War II, Soviet Union was the sole socialist country but the role played by the Soviet Union during the war helped establish socialist regimes in different countries in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. The power and process of the socialist bloc that was established immediately after the World War II continued until the Soviet Union degenerated into socialist imperialism. Similar case is with cooperation between the United States and China, which was also not ideology based but guided by the objective necessity of the international situation. Nikita Khrushchev's rise to power in Russia marked the beginning of chasm in the international communist movement. Denouncement of Stalin's policy and deviation from Lenin's approach created fissures in the fraternal relationship with Russia and China. Henry Kissinger, who was then national security advisor to US President Richard Nixon and later became US secretary of State, cashed in on China-Russia rift and used this opportunity to bring China and United States closer for which Pakistan also played a vital role. The visit of the US President Richard Nixon to Beijing in 1972 and meeting with Mao Zedong saw miraculous thaw in the hostility between China and America and also changed the perception of both the countries to look at one another. This historic Nixon-Mao meeting turned US-China relations into friendly and cooperative ones. This was made possible despite two countries pursuing different ideologies.If it was possible between the United States and China, why can't it happen between the United States and the UCPN-Maoist? There are more sensible ground for closer ties and cooperation between the United States and the UCPN-Maoist. Like US-China relationship during the Cold War, the Maoists and Washington can have similar rapport in the post Cold War period. America knows well that ideology is not practiced when it comes to foreign policy and diplomatic relations with other countries. Realism and national interests are what shape foreign policy and relations in the post Cold War era. If we look at the Maoists' analysis on the international situation and international forces, it becomes clearer as to who the UCPN-Maoist deems its allies and who its foes are. The Maoists have classified international forces into three categories-fraternal, friendly and hostile. Fraternal are those forces that share common ideology. At present there is not a single country in the world with which the Maoists can have fraternal relationship. There are revolutionary communist parties in the world which it calls fraternal parties and organizations. In the second category (friendly forces) are the countries having friendly relationship and willing to help Nepal without interfering in the internal affairs of Nepal. The United States falls under this category. And the third category is the country or countries that are either hostile to Nepal or overtly and covertly interfere in Nepal's internal affairs. India falls under the third category. The Maoists have, thus, adopted their policy with different countries based on this analysis and accordingly want to develop relationship with other countries.In its political document recently adopted by the Palungtar plenum the party has made its position clear viz-a-viz international forces. The Maoists have designated the United States as the leader of global imperialism. However it does not consider the United States as a direct threat and does not deem Washington its principal enemy. The UCPN-Maoist has clearly designated the Indian expansionism as its principal foe and it underscored the need for launching a national liberation movement against Indian expansionism.The United States has some principal policy objectives in Nepal, which include Nepal's independence and territorial integrity; peace and stability, democracy, poverty alleviation and religious freedom. Similar are the agenda of the UCPN-Maoist. On the issue of national independence and territorial integrity, the Maoists are more serious than other political forces and this is their highest priority. The Maoists have sensed threat to its national independence and territorial integrity from Indian expansionism whereas other parties tend to collaborate with India. On this issue, the Maoists and the United States share identical views. So far as the peace and stability are concerned, the Maoists are committed to peace process and constitution writing. The Maoists have declared that they would make sincere efforts for constitution and peace until the last hours and should these efforts fail they would launch popular revolt to achieve the goal of peace and constitution. The UCPN-Maoist is the party of poor and proletariats and its goal is to lift people's livelihood for which poverty alleviation is its number one economic priority. The other important issue that the United States has accorded priority in Nepal is religious freedom. On this issue, too, the policy and objective of the United States and the Maoists complement. It is the Maoists that raised secularism and incorporated in the national agenda. Other parities had not been prepared to accept secular agenda but the Maoists' pursuance compelled all to accept this. As a result, Nepal has now been declared a secular state.So far as the democracy is concerned, the Maoists' definition of democracy is not compatible with that of America. But the Maoists have already joined the peaceful politics and multi-party competitive political system and proved their superiority even in the bourgeoisie democracy. The UCPN-Maoist contested the election held on multi-party basis in which the Maoists emerged as the largest party. The international observers including the Carter Center have hailed the election as free and fair. Thus, democratic country like the United States should not have any kind of apprehension and reservation in having friendly and cooperative relationship with the political force that commands overwhelming popular support. Attempt to ignore and marginalize the Maoists is tantamount to disregard the people's verdict, which would ultimately be a disregard to democracy. The United States ought to understand the fact that collaboration with the forces rejected by the people does not at all strengthen democracy, peace and stability in Nepal.Moreover, there are some common agenda that the United States and the UCPN-Maoist share in the international arena. The United States is currently fighting war on terror perpetrated by religious fundamentalists like Al Qaeda and Taliban that want to establish theocratic regimes on the basis of Sharia laws- Islamic religious rules. The Maoists have their stated policy that opposes any kind of religious and theocratic rule in the world and also violent activities in the name of religion. In this point as well, the interests of Maoists and the United States converge.Moreover, the Maoists have never wanted to hurt the interest of the United States in Nepal and elsewhere, although they, in principle, are against imperialism. The Maoists are aware and cautious not to mix ideological issues with diplomatic relationship.The regional power balance in South Asia, too, requires deeper understanding and stronger relations and cooperation between the United States and the UCPN-Maoist. Nepal is sandwiched between Asia's two giants which are far bigger in terms population, territorial, economic and military size and strength. As a small country, Nepal's survival strategy is the core security and foreign policy priority. Nepal's survival, security and development have often come under threat from dubious nature and hawkish and hegemonic attitude of southern neighbour India. This is the issue that has created friction between Nepal and India. The Maoists have raised this question more prominently and with more emphasis than ever before that have strained the relations between Nepal's Maoist and New Delhi. If the core objective of the United States is to protect Nepal's independence and territorial integrity, cooperation and better understanding with the UCPN-M are more necessary. The Maoists have always offered an olive branch and expressed their willingness to work together with the US on areas of mutual interests. Now onus lies on Washington to reciprocate. Since the Maoists have joined open politics and the United States supports democracy in the world, it is an opportune time for both sides to cooperate with one another which would be beneficial not only for Nepal but also boost Washington's image in South Asia.The author can be reached at: yubanath@wlink.com.np

China's priorities in Nepal

Yuba Nath Lamsal
On the eve of 91st anniversary of founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), to which China has attached greater importance, Beijing sent a senior official at the foreign ministry to take up diplomatic task in the Himalayan republic. This may be a mere coincidence but it carries a special meaning and significance in the bilateral relations between Nepal and China.Yang Houlan, the new ambassador of the People's Republic of China, assumed diplomatic responsibility in Nepal on June 20 when he presented his credentials to President Dr Ram Baran Yadav. Since then he has kept himself busy in flurry of diplomatic activities including meeting and interaction with different stakeholders. As a new ambassador of an immediate neighbour of Nepal, the meeting and interaction with leaders and officials is normal as they are aimed at getting familiar with the political and diplomatic circle of Nepal and also getting a feel of ongoing developments in Nepal.Yang's appointment as a new ambassador has been viewed with much significance and curiosity in Nepal's political and diplomatic circle. It did stir curiosity mainly because of two things. One is early withdrawal of Yang's predecessor and the other one is Yang's background and credential. The newly appointed ambassador is, perhaps, the senior most diplomat ever sent to Nepal since Nepal and China established diplomatic relations. More than that the educational background, past tract records and diplomatic experiences and acumen Yang possesses are the subject of concern and curiosity to many China watchers in Nepal. Yang's appointment gives a clear message that China accords greater importance to the relations with Nepal.Ambassador Yang holds an advanced degree from American University and speaks fluent English. For a diplomat, fluency in languages spoken in the international level is very important. English has now become a lingua franca in the diplomatic circle everywhere in the world. Although diplomacy and language are two different things and person having good diplomatic acumen can handle things, skill in multiple languages especially well verse in an internationally spoken language makes job of diplomats easier. In the sphere of modern day diplomacy, fluency in international language other than the native ones and good knowledge in the local language of the host country are considered additional strength and qualification of diplomats. Ambassador Yang speaks English fluently which is an additional feather in his hat which is why he is expected to handle things differently and more appropriately than his predecessors. The earlier Chinese ambassadors did not speak English fluently, which made them dependent on interpreters for communication with foreigners. But Yang can communicate directly so that there would not be language barrier for him.Secondly, he has expertise and knowledge of diplomatic nuances as he already served in countries which are strategically and diplomatically vital for China. The sophistication and sensitivity with which he handled affairs of Korean Peninsula, which is strategically vital for China, have proved his diplomatic acumen. The other country where Yang worked as a diplomat is Afghanistan which has drawn global attention at present. Yang has now been sent to Nepal with special responsibility of further strengthening bilateral relations and addressing some of the serious and vital concerns of China in this Himalayan republic.China has its own interests in Nepal, which are natural for an immediate neighbour that shares a long border. As is the case with every country in the world, China's first and the foremost concern is its national interest. In the expense of national interests, nothing else can have any meaning and significance. This is a plain truth of diplomacy. But China's interests are also linked with Nepal's national interests. The first interest of China is its security and Beijing wants to ensure that there would be no threat and danger to its stability and security from Nepal's soil. This concern is genuine as some countries are instigating anti-China acidities in the name of the so-called Tibetan exiles. Although Nepal has iterated its one-China policy time and again and vowed not to allow its territory to be used against the interest of China, this has not been translated into action. Nepal Government is unable to completely check anti-China activities for two reasons. Firstly, some political parties maintain double standard as regard for checking anti-China activities. These parties, on the one hand, express their commitment in public not to allow anti-China activities, they, at the time time, hobnob with the countries and forces that are active in destablize China, on the other. This issue is directly linked with China's security and territorial integrity and Beijing can never compromise on this issue, which Nepal has to take into account.Nepal is a country with which China has a long border. But Nepal does not manage and regulate its own border. Nepal shares border with China in the north and has a long unregulated border with India. China has border dispute with India and once fought border war in 1962. The border between China and India has not yet been resolved. China is susceptible to India because of its undependable behavior especially with its neighbours. In the case of China, which has already emerged as a global power, certain western powers collaborate with India to instigate anti-China activities through Nepal's territory. Nepal-India open border has made the job of these unscrupulous elements, who want to infiltrate into Nepal with the ultimate objective of creating instability in Tibet, easier. This is one of the major concerns of China and Beijing wants Nepal to address this issue with urgency.The other interest of China is trade. China has already emerged as world's second largest economy. Its trade has dominated in East Asia, Africa, Europe, America and Latin America. In South Asia, too, China's trade with Pakistan and Sri Lanka is huge in volume. Its trade with Bangladesh is also growing rapidly. China is India's second largest trading partner. But the volume of trade is low with Nepal despite being so close. China wants to enlarge the volume of trade with Nepal, which would definitely benefit China because its products will find market in Nepal. At the same time, the increased trade with China would benefit Nepal as well. Currently, Nepal is over dependent on India for supplies of goods. As a result, more than 60 per cent of Nepal's trade is with India, whereas Nepal's volume of trade with China is only about 10 per cent. Even in Nepal's own interest, its trade needs to be diversified for which China is interested and forthcoming. Moreover, Nepal is a bridge between China and South Asia and accordingly it should play its role. If Nepal was developed as a transit economy between China and India, we can have a lot of benefits out of it and Nepal's strategic value could further go up. Along with trade, economic cooperation is yet another area of China's interest. China is a global economic power but its prosperity would be meaningless if poverty, instability and backwardness exist in the next door neighbour. China has realized this and taken it seriously. Poverty is the fertile ground for instability and chaos. If chaotic situation persists in Nepal, it would have its impact in Tibet, which is already a target of some countries that want to create instability in China. Prosperous and stable Nepal is in the interest of China, which Beijing has come to realize. For this, China is willing to cooperate.There are many areas of economic cooperation between Nepal and China. Beijing is willing to assist for infrastructure development in Nepal in general and in areas adjoining Tibet Autonomous regions in particular, which the newly appointed ambassador has already made public through media. Similarly, China is interested to invest in Nepal's hydro power and other areas. For this, the initiative should come from Nepal government. Beijing knows well that peace and stability are main prerequisite for increased trade and economic cooperation. China has, thus, laid particular emphasis on peace and stability in Nepal which alone create atmosphere conducive for development and economic cooperation between the two countries.China's other prime interest in Nepal and also in the entire South Asia is the SAARC, which is the regional body of eight South Asian countries including Nepal, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan. China has already showed its interest to cooperate with the SAARC. It has acquired observer status along with Japan, Korea and the United States. But China's position viz-a-viz other observers is different. China is very much part of South Asia because it shares border with almost all members of the SAARC. Even the members of the SAARC do not have common border with all but China has. For instance, China shares land border with Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan whereas maritime has linked China with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives. Based on these facts, China should be given full membership of the SAARC and Beijing should also be forthcoming to join the South Asian organization as a full-fledged member. This would be in the interest of both China and South Asia. The SAARC at present is being called as the poor people's club and it has not been able to expedite the process for which the organization was created due to fund crunch. Most of the SAARC members are resource strapped countries which cannot make significant monetary contribution to the SAARC. Lack of adequate fund has impeded activities of the SAARC. The only country that is in position to make significant monetary contribution is India. But New Delhi is trying more to squeeze the association rather than strengthening it and bolstering and enlarging its activities. If China joins the SAARC, it would serve as a counterweight to India as well as the organization will be more financially equipped. Against this background, China should be persuaded to join the SAARC as a full member for which South Asian countries including Nepal have to play a meaningful role. We must not forget the fact that the SAARC cannot be complete without the participation of China.These are and should be the interests and concerns of China in Nepal and South Asia. There is a tremendous good will of Nepali people towards China and the people of China. However, the interaction and exchange at the people's level are relatively low in volume. Stronger bond at the people's level and cultural linkages make the official relations stronger and more sustainable. As a career diplomat, the newly appointed Ambassador of China, Yang Houlan, must be aware of this reality and is expected to pay attention to address these issues with greater urgency.

Communist Party of China: Tests and Trials of 90 Years

Yuba Nath Lamsal
China marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on July 1, 2011. On this occasion, China is reviewing and reassessing its success, setbacks and lessons learnt and experienced during the arduous 90 years that were marked by many ups and downs; dangers and dissensions; and challenges and opportunities.It is, indeed, an opportune time to assess how the party was able to achieve remarkable success in economic front and accordingly chart out future strategy to cope with the newer challenges in the present global context. The speed and pace with which China is rising and the economic miracle it has achieved remains no more the concern of China alone. China's success is an issue of academic discussion how it was possible in China and not in other country, what impact it would have on global economy and politics and what the world in general and the developing countries in particular can learn from this remarkable achievement.China has already emerged as the second largest economy in the world leaving behind Japan and projections are that it is on the march to become world's largest economy in a couple decades surpassing the United States of America. The emergence of China on the world scene is the most significant event in the global political, economic and strategic spheres since the end of the World War II. Moreover, given its size, location, and dynamism, a rapidly growing China would definitely change the global balance of power and world order.China's economy and its accomplishments are closely tied with the global economy and anything that takes place in China will have global repercussion. China's phenomenal changes and developments are, thus, subject of global concern. This issue would dominate academic discourse for at least next couple of decades in the world. At a time when the Western countries are facing history's worst economic crisis and the rest of the developing world is struggling to come out of massive poverty, unemployment and backwardness, the dynamics and driving forces that accelerate the pace of China's economic achievements could be lessons to be learnt for all including the developed and developing countries alike.What is the driving force and basis of the miraculous feat China has achieved especially in economic front. The first and the foremost is the correct ideological orientation accompanied by pragmatist policies and people's centered programmes. It has been clearly proven that the people's support is the key contributor to the success China has made over the past 90 years, despite many odds and ills.The world knows that these achievements were not accomplished over night. It took long and arduous efforts and exercises during the 90 years of history of Chinese Communist Party and 62 years since People's Republic of China was established. In the 90 years journey from poverty to prosperity, both CPC and China have suffered several internal revolts and foreign invasions especially before the revolution of 1949. During the revolution, CPC adopted two-pronged strategy-one targeted against feudal and reactionary Kuomintang regime and the other one was against the foreign attack and interventions. These correct tactics of the CPC perfectly served its strategy and earned massive support and respect of the Chinese people. Guided by Marxism, the Communist Party of China put the interests of the people and the country atop all other agendas, which not only defeated the reactionary regime and established the People's Republic of China but also freed China from external invasion and domination.The party has established a strong bond and link with the people. Even now, the CPC and the government adopt policies and programmes taking into account the feelings and sentiments of the people, which win the trust of the masses. Even if the party and the government feel the need of going against the tide of popular sentiments due to the overall interest of the country, it convinces the people on the compulsion and necessity. Once convinced, people have always backed the government and the party, which have been demonstrated on several occasions of difficulties in the past. There are occasions that the party and the government did not have even a slightest of hesitation to withdraw the policies and programmes that did not serve the interest of the people, despite having their good intentions. The decision to backtrack the policy of ' Great Leap Forward' launched in 1958 by Mao Zedong, the architect of modern China, can be taken as its example. If the parties' policies clash with the expectations and sentiments of the people, they are bound to fail, which may frustrate people and create gulf between the party and the people. This is the bottom line of the CPC, which tries to derive its strength from the mass support but not from a mere party clique and government's sycophants. This is the fundamental difference between the bourgeoisie party and the communist party and also between the Communist Party of China and other parties in the world.The Communist party of China led the revolution, liberated and modernized the country mobilizing large army of Chinese people from every corner of the country. This became possible only when the party won the trust of the people. The party knows well that support comes from the trust and lively and active relationship with the people, which the CPC has maintained right from its founding 90 years ago. Unlike tendency of parties in most of the countries that break relationship with the people once they go to power and take decision that may be detrimental to the interest of the people, the CPC took the people as its support base. As a result, the party has maintained its rule for 62 years in China despite reactionary conspiracies both from within and outside. The leaders like Mao, Chou Enlei, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao took this as a mantra and were able to transform China from poverty-stricken to industrialized country. With opening up and economic reforms going on in full swing but in cautious manner, China is determined to build socialist market economy and carry forward the mission of China's advancement in all spheres.The credit mainly goes to the founding fathers of the Chinese Revolution more particularly Mao Zedong, who not only laid a basis of China's self-dignity and development but also developed a new model of revolution. Chinese Revolution was a great victory of workers, peasants and proletariats in China and also a source of inspiration for the working class in the world. Mao showed the way how revolution in feudal and semi-feudal countries can be launched successfully, which is described as the new people's revolution. Karl Marx propounded the philosophical concept and theory of proletarian revolution in the capitalist countries for the emancipation of mankind from exploitation, discrimination and repression. But in countries where capitalism has still not been developed and which are in the state of feudalism and semi-feudalism, a new model of revolution was necessary based on Marxism, which Mao developed in Chinese Revolution. V. I. Lenin successfully implemented Marxism in the October Revolution of Russia, in which Marxism was developed into Marxism-Leninism. In Chinese Revolution, it was further developed into Marxism-Leninism and Mao Thoughts or Maoism.After Mao's demise in 1976, pragmatist leader like Deng Xiaoping came to the limelight of power in China and consolidated the achievements of the revolution and steered further China into modernization and prosperity. Mao completed political mission of emancipating Chinese people from feudal exploitation and repression and foreign domination, Deng initiated economic revolution and pushed its forward which made China economically power house of the modern day.The Communist Party of China has gone through many tests, trials and turbulences in its journey of 90 years. The CPC that survived and ruled for such a long period because of its vitality and perseverance can be important lessons for the communist parties and working class throughout the world. In many developing countries, Chinese Revolution is being taken as a model of new people's revolution. It is more in South Asia, Africa and Latin America as revolutions are being launched with more vitality and vigor strictly following the model of Chinese Revolution and on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and Maoism/Mao Thoughts.So far as Nepal is concerned, Chinese Revolution had a greater impact. Nepalese revolutions, too, have been inspired by Chinese Revolution and Mao Zedong's thoughts or Maoism. The Communist Party of Nepal was established in 1949 solely inspired by the triumph of Chinese people and Chinese Revolution. Whether it is Jhapa armed uprising of the CPN-ML or the ' People's War' of the CPN-Maoist, ideological foundation was Marxism-Leninism-Maoism/Mao's Thoughts and the singular inspiration was Chinese Revolution. This is more so because China prior to 1949 revolution and present Nepal have many similarities and conditions. The journey, success and setbacks of Chinese Communist party have direct bearing in Nepal as the CPN-Maoist is now in the process of institutionalizing the achievements of ' People's War. The 90th anniversary of Chinese Communist Party is, thus, an important event not only for China but also for the communist parties, proletarian and working class in Nepal and also the world. The objective analysis of the success and setbacks of Chinese Revolution would provide the revolutionaries a correct direction to advance the revolution in Nepal.